Hack Attack:
Anonymous Bring Down Government Servers

The hacking group Anonymous have used denial of service tools to bring down a number of UK government servers.

No data was leaked in the attack that was made in protest against increasing threats to civil liberties by impending legislation.

From ZDNet:

This appears to be a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack with multiple targets. This means Anonymous is simply overloading the servers with more connections than they can handle, bringing the websites down, rather than stealing data. Then again, as we saw with the DDoS attacks against the Vatican, the group is perfectly capable of putting in a backdoor to make life easier when it wants to take the site down a second time.

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Mr Chips:
Schools Embed Smart Tags Into Uniforms

A school in Brazil is embedding computer chips into uniforms that track the movements of pupils.

The smart tags are similar to the chips found in contactless cards such as the Oyster pass used on London's public transport system.

From Newser:

The "intelligent uniforms" tell parents when their children enter the school building by sending a text message to their cell phones. Parents are also alerted if kids don't show up 20 minutes after classes begin with the following message: "Your child has still not arrived at school."

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Don't DIY:
New iPad is Hard to Repair

Apple hardware such as the new iPad is notoriously difficult for users to maintain.

The latest tablet from the company is even harder to open up without causing permanent damage.

From Vice:

Wiens said that if machines in other industries — for example, tractors used by farmers — were to break down over a handful of years and couldn’t be easily repaired, consumers would openly revolt. “In industries where consumers really care about a quality, long-lasting product, there’s no way companies can get away with it,” he said.

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Red Apples:
Chinese Authors Claim Apple is Selling Pirated Books

chinaflag.jpgApple has been accused of selling pirated books in its App Store by a group of Chinese authors.

They are suing Apple in China and are demanding millions of dollars in compensation.

From Reuters:

The group, the Writers Rights Alliance, petitioned Apple last year to stop electronic distribution of the writers' books and had earlier persuaded Baidu, China's largest search engine, to stop publishing their material on its Baidu Library product.

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Hidden in Plain Sight:
'Anonymous Hackers' Operated in the Open

It seems that the so-called hackers of Anonymous and its affiliates are anything but obscure.

Two members of LulzSec accused of security breaches have been found to have substantial online presences that personally identify them.

From Threatpost:

An investigation by Threatpost found that two of the accused, Darren Martyn (aka "pwnsauce," “raepsauce,” and “networkkitten,”) and Donncha O’Cearbhail, formerly known as Donncha Carroll (aka “Palladium”) sported outsize online footprints and made little effort to hide their affinity for hacking.

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Bait & Switch:
Anonymous Supporters Tricked Into Installing Virus

Supporters of the Anonymous hacking group may have helped spread one of the most notorious 'botnets', a network of compromised computers used by fraudsters.

By installing a denial of service tool compromised by a hacker, they inadvertently installed the ZeuS trojan onto their computers.

From Symantec:

The deception of Anonymous supporters began on January 20, 2012, the day of the FBI Megaupload raid. An attacker took a popular PasteBin guide, used by Anonymous members for downloading and using the DoS tool Slowloris, and modified it.

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Wild Trojan Horses:
Botnet Becomes Autonomous

ZeuS, a notorious botnet of computers infected with a Trojan virus, has up until now relied on command and control servers to regulate its nefarious activities.

But a new variant of ZeuS no longer requires external servers and can survive autonomously.

From Network World:

Symantec researchers have seen this new ZeuS variant distributing malware like fake antivirus programs. However, they have yet to figure out how it sends the captured information back to the attackers in the absence of C&C servers.

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Caught in the Network:
Facebook Rant Leads to Threat of Imprisonment

facebooklogo.jpgWhen Mark Byron posted a rant about his pending divorce, he couldn't have foreseen that it would lead to the threat of a jail sentence.

But his wife believed the post to be a form of harassment and a court found him in contempt -- giving him the choice of posting an apology or going to jail.

From Cincinnati.com:

Elizabeth Byron, who couldn’t be reached, believed her husband’s Facebook rant violated the court order, said it and the comments about it made by Mark Byron’s Facebook friends embarrassed her. That, she said, violated the previous order from harassing her – even though the post wasn’t addressed to her and she was blocked from viewing it.

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Walk The Plank:
UK Courts Could Block The Pirate Bay

A ruling the UK High Court could lead to ISPs blocking access to The Pirate Bay, one of the oldest torrent search engines.

piratebaylogo.jpgAlthough The Pirate Bay does not host infringing files themselves, the judgement against them discounts that inconvenient fact.

From The Guardian:

"Despite their ability to do so and despite the judicial findings that have been made against them, the operators of [The Pirate Bay] take no steps to prevent infringement," the judge said. "On the contrary … they actively encourage it and treat any attempts to prevent it (judicial or otherwise) with contempt."

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Log Pile:
UK Government Proposed Logging of Phone & Email Records

blackberry.jpgThe UK government is proposing that ISPs & phone companies hold logs of phone calls, emails, and other communications for one year so that the security services can scrutinise them.

But opponents believe that such widespread retention of data will inevitably lead to hacker attacks on the logs by criminals and hostile governments.

From The Telegraph:

Gus Hosein, of Privacy International, said: “This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want access to this.

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Twitterpol:
Interpol Arrests Journalists Over Tweet

interpol_logo.jpgInterpol have arrested a Malaysian journalist at the behest of Saudi Arabian authorities.

The journalist was detained for writing a tweet that appeared to insult the Prophet Muhammad.

From The Guardian:

Kashgari, a newspaper columnist, fled Saudi Arabia after posting a tweet on the prophet's birthday that sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. The posting, which was later deleted, read: "I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you … I will not pray for you."

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Rotten Apples:
Apple's Sweat Shops Are Not The Worst

Apple has attracted controversy in recent weeks as revelations about working conditions in their Chinese factories have called their ethics into question.

But according to one Chinese activist, even Apple's sweat shops are not the worst factories to be found in the technology sector.

From Laptop:

“Although I know that the iPhone 4 is made at sweat shop factories in China, I still think that this is the only choice, because Apple is actually one of the best. Actually before I made a decision, I compared Apple with other cell phone companies, such as Nokia,” he said through a translator. “And the conditions in those factories are worse than the ones of Apple.”

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Eyeing The Net: Social Networks Under Close Watch

Mining open source data for marketing purposes horrified privacy groups for a long time but surveillance saga of internet took a new ominous twist with the recent declaration by FBI.

In a move that is seen widely as another attack on free speech the agency is also planning to target individuals to build up an interactive map enabling it to trace users daily routine.

From ZDNet:

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking to develop a Web app that can continuously monitor social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace, as well as various news feeds. The organization’s goal is to improve its real-time intelligence when it comes to current and emerging security threats.

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YouTube expands by one hour every second

The ubiquitous online video sharing website keeps growing at the astounding rate.

Its the third most popular destination on the net and it seems that there nothing more satisfying for millions of users than watching and uploading or vice versa...

From New Scientist:

People who complain about some of the racier content on YouTube are often told that the sheer rate at which that content is uploaded makes it impossible to moderate. That claim would seem to be more than borne out by the figures released by Google, YouTube's owner, today.

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RIM Job:
Blackberry Maker Prepares For Sale to Samsung

blackberry.jpgBlackberry maker RIM has been in financial trouble for some time, but salvation may be on the horizon.

Rumours indicate that Samsung may be interested in acquiring the Canadian smartphone manufacturer.

From The Globe and Mail:

The Boy Genius Report blog said on Tuesday, citing “a trusted source with knowledge of the situation,” that RIM's co-CEO Jim Balsillie was pushing for a sale to Samsung, but that talks had so far led nowhere, given the large difference between what RIM executives think their company is worth and what potential suitors are willing to pay.

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Spy Games:
Have Nokia, RIM, and Apple Given India Backdoor Access to Mobiles?

blackberry.jpgA set of documents liberated by hackers may indicate that the Indian government is seeking assistance with eavesdropping from mobile device manufacturers.

The documents seem to indicate that companies such as Nokia, RIM, and Apple have provided government agencies with backdoor access to their mobile devices.

From ZDNet:

Earlier today I came across scans of a set of documents that are internal communications between the Indian Military. The documents claim the existence of a system known as RINOA SUR. While I did not find what SUR stands for but RINOA is RIM, NOkia and Apple. And this is where things start to get very interesting, according to the set of documents, the RINOA SUR platform was used to spy on the USCC—the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

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Hard Luck Story:
Vendors Ramp Up Hard Drive Prices

Floods in Thailand late last year wiped out a huge chunk of the world's hard drive manufacturing capacity.

Now the shortage of drives has caught up with businesses as vendors ramp up their prices.

From Computerworld:

"Similar to other vendors we have seen a negative impact to our drive costs. While we initially absorbed the cost increases to protect our partners and customers, we are no longer able to do so," NetApp stated in its announcement.

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Un-Like:
Facebook Cited in One-Third of UK Divorce Petitions

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook has been cited in one-third of UK divorce petitions in 2011.

This is a increase from 2009 when the social network was only mention in one-fifth of divorce petitions.

From T3:

The top three reasons for listing Facebook in the petitions, according to the survey, were: Inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex; Separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other; and, Facebook friends reporting spouse’s behaviour.

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Bitcoin powers on despite setbacks


There is a new lease of life for this novel electronic currency popular with the net-savvy crowd.

Yet it remains to be seen as a major competition to conventional method of payments in the coming years.

From Wired

"We thought Bitcoin's value would continue to collapse, but so far that hasn't happened. Instead, after hitting a low of $2 (£1.28), it rose back above $3 (£1.91) in early December, and on Monday it rose above $4 (£2.55) for the first time in two months".

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Cyber Cold War:
Chinese Hacking Grows 'Exponentially'

chinaflag.jpgChina is conducting widespread intrusions into corporate networks around the world, according to recent US intelligence reports.

While the Chinese government denies involvement, the ever growing number of hacker attacks could amount to a new kind of cold war.

From Bloomberg:

“They are stealing everything that isn’t bolted down, and it’s getting exponentially worse,” said Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

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Is That All?
26% of IT Staff Peek at Confidential Information

When you work for a company, you could be forgiven for assuming that your personal information is kept confidential.

But a recent survey has revealed that 26% of IT staff have accessed confidential information that they have no right to look at.

From Help Net Security:

Philip Lieberman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lieberman Software said: “Our survey shows that senior management at some of the largest organisations are still not taking the management of privileged access to their most sensitive information seriously. When someone can admit that they have unsupervised, unaudited and unauthorised access to all their colleague’s and superior’s bonus details then the IT security of that organization is seriously flawed.”

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Robbing Hood:
Hackers Plan to Redistribute Wealth

robinhood.jpgAnonymous, the notorious hacking group, are behind a new initiative to take from the rich and give to the poor.

They are teaming up with fellow hackers TeaMp0isoN in an initiative described as Operation Robin Hood.

From InformationWeek:

"In regards to the recent demonstrations and protests across the globe, we are going to turn the tables on the banks," according to a YouTube video uploaded on Saturday, which formally announced #OpRobinHood.

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China Crisis:
China Wants Cyberwarfare Hotline to US

chinaflag.jpgChina Daily, a newspaper known for reporting Chinese government policy, has called for the establishment of a crisis hotline between Beijing and Washington.

Recent reports in the US indicate that hackers in China are regularly intruding into American networks, so the Chinese need to demonstrate that they are concerned with the issue.

From China Daily:

With both state actors and non-state actors joining the cyber game, the risks of miscalculation between states will increase, especially if a non-state hacker can infiltrate a country's military networks and launch an attack against another country.

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Hot Metal:
Printers Vulnerable to Hackers

Security researchers have identified printers as a hugely vulnerable element of computer networks.

Threats to printers have been overlooked until now, but compromised devices could in theory be forced to overheat and combust.

From MSNBC:

HP said Monday that it is still reviewing details of the vulnerability, and is unable to confirm or deny many of the researchers’ claims, but generally disputes the researchers’ characterization of the flaw as widespread. Keith Moore, chief technologist for HP's printer division, said the firm "takes this very seriously,” but his initial research suggests the likelihood that the vulnerability can be exploited in the real world is low in most cases.

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This is a Lie:
Lying More Common in Emails

blackberry.jpgA recent study indicates that people are more likely to lie when writing emails.

As well as the personal distance created by the medium, not communicating in real time seems to encourage mendacity.

From ScienceBlog:

“In exploring the practical implications of this research, the results indicate that the Internet allows people to feel more free, psychologically speaking, to use deception, at least when meeting new people,” Feldman and Zimbler say. “Given the public attention to incidents of Internet predation, this research suggests that the deindividualization created by communicating from behind a computer screen may facilitate the process of portraying a disingenuous self.”

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This is Not The Last Time You'll See These:
Cult US Sitcom Returns as Internet-Only Show

Cult US sitcom Arrested Development was cancelled by Fox after three seasons, a move derided by die-hard fans.

Now streaming service Netflix are bringing the show back as an internet-only download.

From CNET:

"Arrested Development" last aired five years ago, when it got nixed by Nielsen. Its three-season run earned it a spot on Time magazine's list of the 100 best TV shows ever and inspired the sort of cult devotion that led to props being auctioned on eBay.

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Facing Up:
Facebook Agrees to Make Privacy Changes 'Opt-In'

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook has been criticised in the past for playing fast and loose with user privacy.

Now the companty has come to an agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission to make future changes 'opt-in'.

From TechCrunch:

Facebook has come under fire from the FTC and privacy advocates for a pushing users through a transition tool in December 2009 that made public some previously private information such as a user’s Likes. More recently, Facebook was criticized for enabling a facial recognition feature by default for European users. It was made opt-out rather than allowing users to decide whether they wanted their photos scanned for faces to assist them with tagging, and whether their faces would be identified in the photos uploaded by friends.

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How Do You Like Them Apples?
Apple's Lower Price Strategy Suceeding

Apple products have traditionally seen as being expensive.

But the company uses its huge cash reserves to tie-up components and passes savings onto consumers, frustrating competitors in the process.

From The New York Times:

Apple’s new pricing strategy is a big change from the 1990s, when consumers regarded Apple as a producer of overpriced tech baubles, unable to compete effectively with its Macintosh family of computers against the far cheaper Windows PCs. But more recently, it began using its growing manufacturing scale and logistics prowess to deliver Apple products at far more aggressive prices, which in turn gave it more power to influence pricing industrywide.

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Vengeful Librarians:
CIA Unit Monitors Social Media

The CIA has a unit, known informally as 'vengeful librarians', dedicated to monitoring social networks to gauge global perceptions of America.

The unit's analysts often forward posts to the President of the United States.

From AP:

The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts — the actual number is classified — track a broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.

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Trojan Purse:
Mac OS Trojan Mines Bitcoins

onedollarbill.jpgFraudsters have found a new way to make money in the form of virtual currency using computer viruses.

Applications downloaded from torrent sites have been found to contain a trojan that uses the infected computer to make Bitcoins.

From TechWorld:

So far, the Trojan has been detected in a BitTorrent download for GraphicConverter version 7.4, an image editing application for Mac OS X. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't similarly Trojanized torrents out there.

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Indian Bummer:
RIM Help India Eavesdrop on BlackBerry Users

blackberry.jpgRIM, makers of the BlackBerry smartphone, have set up a surveillance facility in Mumbai for the Indian government.

BlackBerry phones use encryption to protect the security of messages, but this has frustrated governments around the world as they seek to monitor their citizens.

From eWeek:

The Indian government imposed a deadline of 31 January 2011 for RIM to give it access to BlackBerry emails. RIM initially pleaded for 18-24 months to find a solution to the deadlock, but then in mid-January it announced that it had provided the Indian government with access to the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service and then, presumably, also set up the facility in Mumbai.

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The Immunity Syndrome:
Facebook Uses AI to Tackle Spam

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook uses artificial intelligence to monitor user clicks and prevent spam.

The Facebook Immunity System monitors up to 25 billion user actions per day.

From New Scientist:

One notable attack took place in April, says Tao Stein, a Facebook engineer who works on the system. It began when several users were duped into copying computer code into their browser's address bar. The code commandeered the person's Facebook account, and started sending chat messages to their friends saying things like "I just got a free iPad", along with a link where the friends could go to get their own. Friends who clicked on the link went to a site that encouraged them to paste the same code into their browsers, further spreading the plague. "Attacks like these can generate millions of messages per minute," says Stein.

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Blackberry Squash:
Smartphone Outage Reduces UAE Car Crashes

blackberry.jpgA recent outage affecting Blackberry smartphones may have led to a reduction in car accidents in the United Arab Emirates.

Accidents in Abu Dhabi reportedly fell 40% in one week and there was an accompaying 20% reduction in Dubai.

From Sophos:

According to The National newspaper, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of Dubai Police, and Brig Gen Hussein Al Harethi, the director of the Abu Dhabi Police traffic department, both linked the drop to the service disruption experienced by BlackBerry users.
"Absolutely nothing has happened in the past week in terms of killings on the road and we're really glad about that," Brig Gen Al Harethi told the newspaper. "People are slowly starting to realise the dangers of using their phone while driving. The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working."

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'Seriously Creepy':
Australian Malls Want to Track Your Mobile

sms.jpgShopping malls in Australia are introducing a controversial technology that uses a shopper's own mobiles as a tracking device.

Receivers in the malls pick up signals from mobiles and create a map showing where shoppers are going and how long they stay in a given location.

From news.com.au:

Ms Baddeley said mobile phone monitoring, already operating in the UK and US, would help the struggling retail sector develop marketing campaigns and identify the best mix of shops in centres.

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Paranoid Android:
HTC Android Phones Leak User Data

android.jpgSecurity researchers have discovered a major flaw in HTC handsets running Android.

The manufacturer has installed a secret logging system that could be accessed by rogue apps.

From The Register:

The breach is a serious one, particularly given that free apps so often ask for internet privileges to collect embedded adverts. Such an app could now harvest data for spear phishing or similar, and given the publicly available demonstration code it would be naive to think someone isn't working on that right now.

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Google Shopping:
World's First Google Store Opens

The world's first ever Google store has opened in London.

The 'Chromezone' is a pop-up concession inside a branch of PC World on Tottenham Court Road.

From The Evening Standard:

A second pop-up store will open at Lakeside shopping centre in Essex on October 7 and more pilot shops are planned around the world in the coming months. A spokeswoman said: "We've put a lot of effort into making it feel welcoming, homely and, dare I say it, 'Googley'."

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Scroll Up:
Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online

Google have teamed up with The Israel Museum in Jerusalem to put the Dead Sea Scrolls online.

Five scrolls have been digitised so far and can be searched as well as viewed.

From The Israel Museum:

"We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. "They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum's encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public."

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Find My Car:
iPhone App Locates Your Lost Car

Customers of Westfield's Sydney mall can now use an iPhone app to locate a lost car.

Number plate recognition cameras are used to track your car when you enter the car park.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Although the app had not yet been used by police for that purpose, Mr Batistich said that if law enforcement provided a license plate number that they believed was in the Westfield Bondi Junction centre, then Westfield or police could asses whether that car was in the car park using the technology.

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Dog Eat Dog:
Anonymous Attacks WikiLeaks

The hacking group Anonymous have launched a denial of service attack against WikiLeaks.

The exploit took advantage of a well known flaw and could have been prevented by a more vigilant administrator.

From SC Magazine:

Users of a Twitter account linked to the RefRef attacks and an AnonOps blog described themselves as hacktivist with “a personal vendetta against WikiLeaks” adding that “we are sorry we took you down. We are even.”

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Pop-Up Phones:
The Low-Cost Low-Power Mobile Network

blackberry.jpgA US professor has developed a low-cost mobile cell that can be powered with solar energy.

The cells could be easily deployed in remote areas with no communications infrastructure.

From Shareable:

Potential uses are numerous: individuals in rural areas with limited Internet access would benefit from these pop-up cellular data connections, and it could serve as a game-changer for areas of the developing world with limited network access. Moreover, tech like this could play a role in the autonomous Next Net that Douglas Rushkoff envisions. While the Village Base Station uses existing cellular network infrastructure, what if devices like this were used to connect to an autonomous Internet through a collectively-owned satellite?

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Jobs Over:
Apple CEO Resigns

stevejobs.jpgSteve Jobs, the man who turned Apple into the iconic computer brand of our time, has resigned as CEO of Apple.

Jobs will stay on as Chairman of the Board, but the CEO role will now be taken on by his right-hand man Tim Cook.

From BBC News:

"At the end of the day, consumers don't buy products from Apple because they're from Steve Jobs, they buy them because they meet their needs and they're good products, and they'll continue to do that," Michael Gartenberg from Gartner told the BBC.

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Libya Logs On:
Rebels Restore Tripoli's Internet

As rebels fight to take control of the Libyan capital, an important milestone has been achieved by techies.

Internet access was cut off by Qadaffi loyalists back in February, but it has now been restored just as the rebellion reaches the final stage.

From TechWorld:

The rebels set up the networks after they were cut off from the centralized Libyana network in Tripoli, which required all international calls to be routed through an international gateway in Tripoli. "Everything will be reconnected and go back to normal," Abushagur said on Monday

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Criminal Charges:
Public Phone Charging Stations Are Hackable

Phone charging stations found in places like airports could make your smartphone vulnerable to hacking.

Security researchers used a conference to spoof hundreds of users with a mocked-up charging station.

From SC Magazine:

Three hundred and sixty four people fell for the trick. Each was served with a message that warned of the dangers of using public power charging stations.

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Hackberry:
Blackberry Server Security Flaw Fixed

blackberry.jpgRIM, makers of the Blackberry, have announced a fix to a security flaw that could have allowed attackers to take over corporate networks.

The flaw was that a specially-encoded image file sent to a user's Blackberry could be used to take over the server software and allow access to other computers on the network.

From Threatpost:

"Successful exploitation of any of these vulnerabilities might allow an attacker to gain access to and execute code on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Depending on the privileges available to the configured BlackBerry Enterprise Server service account, the attacker might also be able to extend access to other non-segmented parts of the network," RIM said in its advisory.

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Droning On:
NewsCorp in Airborne Drone Controversy

drone.jpgNewsCorp is seemingly courting controversy wherever in the world it operates.

It has emerged that The Daily, their quixotic attempt at an iPad-based newspaper, is using an airborne drone to gather footage.

But it is unclear whether these flights were carried out in accordance with regulations.

From Forbes:

Using drones for news-gathering seems like a pretty cool idea, though it’s easy to imagine the robot paparazzi future that Ryan Calo fears. While FAA regulations may currently prohibit such a use, the agency is planning to revisit — and possibly relax — those regulations this year, potentially making it easier for private companies to fly the friendly skies with drones.

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Phone Hacking:
Car Locks Vulnerable to Hacking

sms.jpgSecurity researchers have found a way to hack into car security systems using a laptop.

Eventually thieves could walk the streets with a smartphone that opens car doors remotely.

From Network World:

The iSec researchers believe that they are uncovering symptoms of a much more widespread problem. In recent years, mobile networking has been built into an astonishing range of devices -- everything from picture frames to cars to smart meters -- giving them a cheap and easy way to communicate. According to Bailey, however, security has often been an afterthought, and many of these products can be hacked and misused.

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Rough Music:
Music Pirates Are Best iTunes Customers

Former Google boss Douglas C Merrill has claimed that pirates using Limewire to share music illegally were the best customers for sites such as iTunes.

Merill joined EMI after his stint at Google and came to realise that file sharers were simply trying out music before buying it legally.

From TorrentFreak:

“The RIAA said it isn’t that we are making bad music, but the ‘dirty file sharing guys’ are the problem,” he said during his speech as quoted by ComputerWorld.
“Going to sue customers for file sharing is like trying to sell soap by throwing dirt on your customers.”

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Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo:
Anonymous 'Hacks NATO'

The Anonymous hacking group is claiming that it has breached servers used by NATO.

Two documents purporting to come from their hacking efforts have already been released.

Members of the group have also said that more material will be released soon.

But many of the documents retrieved from the NATO servers will not see the light of day.

From The Washington Post:

On a Twitter feed believed to be run by the group, a Thursday morning message said that the hackers had obtained a lot of material that would be “irresponsible” to publish.

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Cyberspace:
Maps Reveal Global Twitter & Flickr Usage

A programmer has created a set of stunning maps that visualise global Twitter and Flickr usage.

Eric Fischer has also made the images available for viewing on his Flickr photostream.

From PC Magazine:

The Flickr set, titled "See something or say something," uses data from Flickr's search API and Twitter's streaming API to map out activity on the social sites. Orange dots represent Flickr pictures, blue dots are tweets, and white dots are locations with Flickr and Twitter activity. Fischer said on his Twitter feed that he "used a program that I wrote specifically for the purpose."

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Military Meltdown:
Anonymous Release 90,000 US Military Emails

The Anonymous hacking group have released an archive of 90,000 US military emails.

They have been made available for public download on The Pirate Bay, the infamous BitTorrent tracker site.

From The Epoch Times:

The organization hacked into the networks of government contracting and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, where they claim to have discovered “a list of roughly 90,000 military e-mails and password hashes ... 4gb of source code,” and “maps and keys for various other treasure chests buried on the islands of government agencies, federal contractors and shady whitehat companies.”

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Core Blimey:
Supercomputer Made From Smartphone Chips

spinnaker.jpgA new supercomputer aims to simulate the brain using chips found in smartphones.

Low power processors designed by ARM will be arranged into ring-shaped nodes that connect up to one million CPUs.

From Thinq:

"The SpiNNaker project," Furber concludes, "aims to deliver cost-effective parallel computing resources at an unprecedented scale, with over a million embedded processors delivery around 200 teraIPS to support the simulation of a billion spiking neurons in biological real time. The scale of the system demands that power-efficiency and fault-tolerance feature prominently among the design criteria, and the result is a design that embodies concurrency at all levels, from circuit through system to application."

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Leak Soup:
Anonymous Launches WikiLeaks for Hackers

The Anonymous hacking collective have launched two sites to rival WikiLeaks.

As well as LocalLeaks.tk for exposing wrongdoing in local communities, they have also opened HackerLeaks.tk for data discovered during hacking expeditions.

From Forbes:

But while LocalLeaks aims to use WikiLeaks’ model of insider sources to expose corruption on the local scale, HackerLeaks openly invites data thieves to upload documents through its submission system, so that they can be analyzed and publicized. “You download it, we’ll disclose it for you,” the site’s homepage reads, listing potential booty such as “databases, exploits, security flaws, documents, and email spools.”

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Look Book:
Facebook Teams Up With Skype

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook is rumoured to have struck a deal with Skype.

The social networking giant is expected to launch a new feature next week that allows video chat inside a web browser.

From TechCrunch:

The product has been built on Skype and will include a desktop component. It’s not clear to me whether that means it will just work if a user has Skype already installed on the computer, or if additional software will need to be downloaded even if the user already uses Skype. But it’s clear that there’s very deep integration between the products, and from the user’s perspective, the product will be an in browser experience.

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Poacher Turned Gamekeeper:
PS3 Hacker Joins Facebook

facebooklogo.jpgGeorge Hotz, the hacker known for opening up Playstation hardware to hobbyists, has been employed by Facebook.

Hotz is believed to be developing mobile apps for the social networking giant.

From International Business Times:

It seems hackers love to be on the payrolls, really. It has been reported that one in for online hackers in the US are on the government payrolls. There have been cases of some hackers being hired by the tech companies they hacked into. And some are hired by firms to torment competition.

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Closed Book:
Users Shun Facebook

facebooklogo.jpgCould Facebook's reign be nearing its end?

Over 7 million US & Canadian users of the site deleted their accounts last month, according to the Inside Facebook blog.

From CNN:

"I figured out that I wouldn't look back as an old man and wish I had spent more time on Facebook," says David Cole, an IT manager from Boston. Cole said he believes the popular social-networking site is a useful tool, but not a replacement for what he calls "realbook" experiences.

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Virtual Burglary:
Trojan Steals Bitcoins

onedollarbill.jpgA new virus steals virtual currency from victim's computers.

The Trojan horse locates the Bitcoin wallet on an infected system and emails it to an unknown location.

From Wired:

Hacker types have been sniffing around Bitcoin since at least April, when a program called Stealthcoin debuted that’s tailor-made for turning a botnet of compromised computers into a covert parallel Bitcoin mining machine. The first theft of Bitcoins was reported this week by a user who claimed a hacker transferred 25,000 BTC from his machine, theoretically worth about $500,000 at current exchange rates.

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Like:
Iceland Uses Facebook to Forge Constitution

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook is being used by Icelanders to help form a new constitution.

Two thirds of the country uses the social network, but sites like Twitter and YouTube are also being utilised by the government to communicate with citizens.

From ZDNet:

Two thirds of Iceland’s population (approximately 320,000) is on Facebook, so the constitutional council’s weekly meetings are broadcast live not only on the council’s website, but on the social network as well. “It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook,” Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the constitutional review project, told the Associated Press. “The sort of argumentative and negative discussion that has been common on Icelandic blogs and news sites, especially since the economic collapse, has been almost entirely absent.”

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Goggle:
Google Launches Visual & Voice Search

Google has unveiled new ways to search using images and voice recognition.

Devices from desktops to mobiles will benefit from the new features.

From AFP:

"We at Google will not be happy until we make the Web as easy to flip through as a magazine," Google fellow Amit Singhal said at an "Inside Search" event in San Francisco.

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iUnion:
Apple Store Employee Forms Trade Union

appleworm.jpgAn Apple Store employee has formed a new trade union to benefit his co-workers.

Cory Moll hopes to improve conditions and eliminate what he sees as 'unfair' practices.

From The Globe & Mail:

“It’s kind of a feeling of David versus Goliath,” Mr. Moll said of trying to start a union movement in a $320-billion company run by its iconic co-founder, Steve Jobs.

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Non:
France Bans On-Air Mentions of Facebook & Twitter

may68.pngRadio and television news presenters in France have been banned from mentioning Facebook and Twitter on-air unless they relate to a news story.

From ZDNet:

The French TV regulatory agency Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) insists the French government is simply upholding its laws. “Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition?” a CSA spokesperson said in a statement. “This would be a distortion of competition. If we allow Facebook and Twitter to be cited on air, it’s opening a Pandora’s Box — other social networks will complain to us saying, ‘why not us?’”

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Hacked Off:
Anonymous Cracks Iranian Government Servers

The Anonymous hacking group has taken over Iranian government servers belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They have gained access to an archive containing 10,000 emails.

From The Next Web:

The Ministry’s website is still down as of this writing, and the servers are under Anonymous control. One of the Iranian members of Anonymous involved with the operation sent me a message from the compromised email servers as evidence that they were still under Anonymous control.

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Rotten Borough:
Council Spends Taxpayer's Money Suing Twitter

failwhale.pngA UK local authority has brought legal action in the US against Twitter in a quest to unmask a blogger.

Mr Monkey's blog ridiculed members of South Tyneside Council and they have used taxpayer's money to discover his true identity.

Mark Stephens, a leading media lawyer who has represented WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange after the US government sought to obtain his Twitter account details, said: “I think it is inappropriate for a local authority to spend money on this kind of exercise. Local authorities cannot sue for libel and, if individual councillors have been defamed, they should take proceedings at their own cost.”

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Bright Idea:
The Internet Lightbulb

NXP have announced a new chip that can be placed into a lightbulb to connect it to the Internet.

The new technology takes advantage of the massive address space created by IPv6.

From ZDNet:

The GreenChip smart lighting system contains electronics small enough to fit inside a standard light bulb and can operate on the same wireless sensor networks consumers may be using at home for energy metering, smart appliances and security systems, the company said.

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Danger Money:
P2P Currency is 'Most Dangerous Open-Source Project Ever Created'

onedollarbill.jpgBitcoin is a so-called peer-to-peer currency developed in 2009 and given a recent boost by a Google engineer's Java implementation.

Commentators investigating Bitcoin have concluded that it could be 'the most dangerous technological project since the internet itself.'

From Launch:

We are 100% certain that governments will start banning bitcoins in the next 12 to 18 months. Additionally, we’re certain bitcoins will soar in value and a crush of folks will flood the system and start using them.

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I'm Feeling Lucky:
Ford Adapts Google Prediction Technology for Cars

Ford has teamed up with Google to use the same prediction technology deployed on the search engine in their cars.

This could mean that your car predicts where you want to go based on past journeys.

From Ford:

“Anticipating the driver's destination is just one way that Ford is investigating predicting driver behavior,” said McGee. “This information can ultimately be used to optimize vehicle performance attributes such as fuel efficiency and driveability.”

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Twofacedbook:
Facebook's Secret Smear Scandal

Facebook's use of a PR company to smear Google has been exposed.

The social networking giant paid Burson-Marsteller to plant stories exploiting fears over user privacy.

From BBC News:

Burson told Mr Soghain, among others, that "the American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloguing and broadcasting every minute of every day - without their permission."

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Open Book:
Facebook Apps Expose User Data

facebooklogo.jpgMany Facebook applications have a flaw that exposes private user data to the application provider.

The flaw has existed for several years and potentially affects tens of thousands of users.

The flaw, which the researchers estimate has affected hundreds of thousands of applications, exposed user access tokens to advertisers and others. The tokens serve as a spare set of keys that Facebook apps use to perform certain actions on behalf of the user, such as posting messages to a Facebook wall or sending RSVP replies to invitations. For years, many apps that rely on an older form of user authentication turned over these keys to third parties, giving them the ability to access information users specifically designated as off limits.

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iOwnU:
iOS Hacking Tool Released

ipodtouch.jpgSecurity researchers have released software that exploits vulnerabilities in a variety of operating systems.

One module is designed to allow hacking of Apple's mobile OS running on devices like iPhones and iPads.

The Metasploit 3.7 release provides an enhanced session tracking backend that is intended to improve performance. Metasploit 3.7 also provides over 35 new exploit modules for security researchers to test, including new ones designed to test Apple's iOS mobile operating system security.

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Flop Phone:
The E-Paper Phone

Researchers have invented a new kind of mobile phone made with E-Ink, a thin flexible display.

The functioning prototype can make and receive calls as well as running apps.

From Gizmag:

"This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper," said its creator, Roel Vertegaal, who is also the director of the Human Media Lab. "You interact with it by bending it into a cell phone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen."

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Insecurity:
Password Managment Site Hacked

LastPass, a website that allows users to centrally manage their online passwords, has been hacked.

The site is advising users to change their passwords immediately to prevent all their online identities being exposed.

From Threat Post:

The data stolen could potentially allow attackers to launch brute force attacks on user accounts - using e-mail addresses associated with accounts and dictionary-style attacks to break LastPass Master Passwords, which would give attackers access to any online accounts and passwords managed in a given account.

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The Blame Game:
Sony Accuses Anonymous in PSN Hacking Scandal

Sony have blamed the Anonymous hacking group for the breaches of the Playstation Network.

A letter from the company's chairman to Congress details the allegation along with the fact that Sony waited two days before informing the FBI of the hack.

From Reuters:

"Sony has been the victim of a very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack," Kazuo Hirai, chairman of the board of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in a letter to the U.S. Congress.

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Speed Reading:
TomTom User Data Given to Police

tomtom.jpgApple is not the only company enmeshed in a privacy scandal.

TomTom have revealed that route and speed data from their SatNavs has been given to police and local authorities.

From CNET:

TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn revealed the information on the company's website. "We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit," he says.

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Backseat Hackers:
Drive-By Hackers Defrauded Businesses

Seattle businesses may have been targeted by a new kind of burglar -- one that crawls in through vulnerabilities in wireless networks rather than open windows.

Police are currently investigating one group of drive-by hackers that may have netted around $750,000.

From seattlepi.com:

"Once a suspect has gained unauthorized access to a wireless network, computers in the vehicle can be used to run programs such as port scanning software and password recovery software designed to breach security on machines within the network," the detective told the court.

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Connection Failed:
ISPs Lose Battle Against Digital Economy Act

BT and TalkTalk have failed in their legal challenge against the Digital Economy Act.

The law compels ISPs to send warning letters to illegal downloaders and restrict their internet connection if they fail to comply.

From BBC News:

Justice Parker rejected four of the five points put forward by the ISPs but ruled in their favour regarding a piece of associated legislation that makes service providers liable for 25% of the cost of policing their users.

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iSpy:
iPhone Covertly Logs Your Location

ipodtouch.jpgSecurity researchers have discovered that the iPhone covertly logs your location.

They have released a program that allows users to uncover the location data secretly stored on their iPhones.

From The Guardian:

If someone were to steal an iPhone and "jailbreak" it, giving them direct access to the files it contains, they could extract the location database directly. Alternatively, anyone with direct access to a user's computer could run the application and see a visualisation of their movements. Encrypting data on the computer is one way to protect against it, though that still leaves the file on the phone.

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Foaming at the Mouth:
Web's Inventor Slates Social Networks

failwhale.pngSir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, but he's not fond of social networking sites such as Twitter.

He has characterised the level of discourse on social networks as 'foaming at the mouth'.

From PC Pro:

Berners-Lee said there were sane tweets — “hmm, there seem to be two sides to the net neutrality arguement” — but those comments weren’t being retweeted. ”One possibility is that Twitter, in that case, is a medium which was only amplifying the emotionally charged,” he suggested.

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Bubble Burst:
Will Social Networking Boom Lead to Nothing?

Previous tech bubbles have changed the world by driving innovations such as PCs and the internet.

But will the current bubble, fuelled by social networks and gaming, leave us empty-handed?

From BusinessWeek:

After a couple years at Facebook, Hammerbacher grew restless. He figured that much of the groundbreaking computer science had been done. Something else gnawed at him. Hammerbacher looked around Silicon Valley at companies like his own, Google (GOOG2), and Twitter, and saw his peers wasting their talents. "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads," he says. "That sucks."

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Six of One:
China Brands US 'Hypocrites' Over Human Rights

chinaflag.jpgThe US have been vocal in their criticisms of China over human rights -- Secretary of State Clinton recently expressed support for jailed dissident Ai Weiwei.

But China has now turned the tables and released a report criticising the US for 'hypocrisy' by supporting free use of the internet in other countries while taking action against WikiLeaks at home.

From The Guardian:

Much of the document focuses on social and economic issues such as poverty, crime and racism. It attacks the US for the large number of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and the prisoner abuse scandals that have dogged counterterrorism initiatives. It adds: "The violation of [US] citizens' civil and political rights by the government is severe … the United States applies double standards … by requesting unrestricted 'internet freedom' in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory.

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iWoz:
Apple's Co-Founder Available for Return

ipodtouch.jpgSteve Wozniak founded Apple with Steve Jobs in the late 1970s.

But a plane crash in the early 1980s led to Wozniak's departure from the company.

Now he says that he would consider returning to Apple if asked.

From Reuters:

"There's just an awful lot I know about Apple products and competing products that has some relevance, some meaning. They're my own feelings, though," said Wozniak, who is currently chief scientist of storage start-up Fusion-io.

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Battle Royale:
Anonymous Hackers Target Sony

The Anonymous hacking group has launched a cyberattack against Sony.

The corporation attracted the ire of hackers after it pursued legal action against George Hotz, developer of a tool that allows users to install their operating system of choice on Playstation 3 consoles.

From The International Business Times:

Sony has hired an online security firm, Prolexic, to defend against the attacks. Prolexic's chief technology officer, Paul Sop, noted that most people think a DDoS is a simple flood of data. But they can often be much more sophisticated than that, sometimes involving only a few kilobits rather than megabytes worth of requests to a targeted machine.

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iSatan:
Catholics Say Net's Fuelling Satanism Boom

coop_devil_head_lrg.jpgA conference of Catholic clergy has convened to study a boom in the need for exorcists.

It seems that the Internet has revived the fortunes of Satanism and thus more exorcisms are required.

From The Daily Telegraph:

"In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism. The conference is not about how to become an exorcist. It's to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. It's to give help to families and priests. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile," said Mr Climati.

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Tweet Elite:
The 20,000 Users Dominating Twitter

failwhale.pngA new study shows that just 20,000 Twitter accounts are responsible for almost half of the tweets consumed by users.

This means that a mere 0.05% of the social network’s user base gets noticed.

From Social Trust Agents:

Of the 260 million tweets with URLs that the study’s authors analyzed, nearly 50% of the tweets consumed were created by what they called “elite” users who fall into four categories: media, celebrities, organizations and bloggers. “Ordinary” users encompass everyone else.

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Boned:
Moblie Phones Decalcify Bones

sms.jpgAre you one of those men that wears a mobile phone on your hip?

You might want to reconsider as new research indicates that this may result in your bones becoming demineralised.

From Thinq:

Study leader Dr Fernando D Sravi writes: "The different patterns of right-left asymmetry in femoral bone mineral found in mobile cell phone users and non users are consistent with a non-thermal effect of electromagnetic radio-frequency waves not previously described."

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OMG:
OED LOL

The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary features a host of modern terms including 'cream crackered', 'wag' and 'tinfoil hat', along with internet initialisms such as LOL and OMG.

Yet LOL and OMG are far from being neologisms.

The studious lexicographers behind the latest tome have discovered that LOL and OMG predate the internet.

From Wired:

While you might consider LOL and OMG to be etymological artefacts from the mobile era or the internet age, the Oxford English Dictionary's typically meticulous word-sleuthing found examples of both acronyms from 1960 and 1917, respectively.

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Age Rage:
Facebook Bans 20,000 Underage Users Per Day

facebooklogo.jpgFacebook is only for use by those over 13 years of age.

But that doesn't prevent millions of underage users trying to sign up.

This results in Facebook banning 20,000 accounts belonging to under-13s every day.

From The Huffington Post:

Those 20,000 suspect profiles are just the tip of the iceberg. In the United States, 3.6 million underage users access Facebook each month, ComScore reports, according to the New York Times. ComScore also notes that not all these visitors have Facebook accounts and that some may be viewing Facebook pages that are open to the public. Nevertheless, experts fear that brief, unsupervised contact with the massive social network may expose children to bullies, predators and inappropriate content.

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Bitter Over Twitter:
UK Banks Using Social Networks Bound by 1924 Law

failwhale.pngUK banks are conspicuously absent for the most part from social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Their activities online are restricted by a 1924 law that prevents them from identifying an individual as one of their customers.

From Silicon.com:

Banking regulations mean apparently simple customer care queries submitted via the likes of Twitter have to be routed through traditional secure channels of communications to avoid falling foul of compliance law. Engaging in social-media discussions about complex investment products such as pensions involves navigating an equally complex compliance minefield.

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Votes for Notes:
India's Ruling Party Bribed MPs

wikileaks.pngA diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks seems to show that India's ruling Congress party bribed MPs to vote in a controversial nuclear deal.

The deal between India and the US enabled India to greatly expand its capability to generate nuclear power.

From BBC News:

The leaked cable, reported in The Hindu newspaper, has caused uproar in the Indian parliament with the main opposition parties saying that Congress had "brought shame to the nation" and calling on the prime minister to resign.

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Military Blockade:
US Military Network Blocks Access to Popular Site

The US military have blocked access to popular sites on their network to free up bandwidth.

This move is a response to the earthquakes in Japan and their aftermath.

From CNN:

The sites -- including YouTube, ESPN, Amazon, eBay and MTV -- were chosen not because of the content but because their popularity among users of military computers account for significant bandwidth, according to Strategic Command spokesman Rodney Ellison.

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Bankers:
Anonymous Leaks Bank of America Emails

The notorious hacking group Anonymous has released a massive cache of internal Bank of America emails.

The emails contain damaging revelations such as Bank of America improperly foreclosing on several homes in recent years.

From The New York Times:

Anonymous’ host site for the internal emails has received enough traffic to bring it to its knees. VentureBeat reporters were unable to access the site shortly after the documents were posted. Errors indicated that the site had crashed due to a traffic overload — which kind of ironic after Anonymous coordinated massive direct denial of service (DDoS) attacks on other sites that are designed to send inordinate amounts of traffic and overload servers.

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Tweeter Twatted:
Libellous Tweet Costs Councillor £3,000

failwhale.pngA councillor has made history by being the first person to admit making a libellous comment on Twitter.

Colin Elsbury agreed to pay electoral rival Eddie Talbot £3,000 in compensation after falsely claiming that Talbot had been removed by police from a polling station.

From BBC News:

Mr Talbot's solicitor Nigel Jones told the court that the implication of the Twitter statement was that his client had been forcibly removed for criminal or disreputable conduct, adding that the allegation was completely untrue and defamatory.

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Twits:
Judge Orders Twitter to Hand Over WikiLeaks Data

wikileaks.pngA US federal judge has ruled that Twitter must hand over account information from three of Julian Assange's supporters.

The ruling stated that such a move would not pose a threat to free speech.

From BBC News:

In a statement, ACLU lawyer Aden Fine said: "This ruling gives the government the ability to secretly amass private information related to individuals' internet communications.
"Except in extraordinary circumstances, the government should not be able to obtain this information in secret. That's not how our system works."

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Off The Record:
Ex-Spy Chief Says WikiLeaks Sparked Revolutions

wikileaks.pngRichard Dearlove, former head of MI6, has credited WikiLeaks with triggering the revolutions breaking out in the Middle East.

Dearlove made the remarks in a speech last month to the Cambrdge Union that was supposed to be off the record.

From The Register:

“I would definitely draw parallels at the moment between the wave of political unrest which is sweeping through the Middle East in a very exciting and rather extraordinary fashion and also the WikiLeaks phenomenon,” Dearlove said. “Really, what ties these two events together, and of course a number of other events, is the diffusion of power, away from the states and the empowerment of individuals, and small groups of individuals, by technology.”

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The Dog Ate My iPad:
Uni Eyes iPads for Students

The University of Melbourne is planning to give iPads to all staff and students.

A recent trial showed that iPads were considered 'superior' to similar devices such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

From Delimiter:

In a report on the trial published on Saturday and available online, the college found that both staff (72.2 percent) and students (80 percent) overwhelmingly recommended the iPad for use by others. “iPads are effective, durable, reliable and achieve their educational aims of going further, faster and with more fun,” the college wrote.

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Crime Doesn't Pay:
Fraud Website Teenagers Jailed

Three teenagers responsible for a website described as the 'Facebook of crime' have been jailed.

The forums at Gh0stMarket.net are estimated to have cost credit card companies over £16 million in losses.

From The Guardian:

Southwark crown court was told how public-school-educated Webber, the son of a former Guernsey politician, was using an offshore bank account in Costa Rica to process funds from the frauds. After his initial arrest, Webber threatened on a forum to blow up the head of the police e-crimes unit in retaliation, and used his hacking skills to trace officers' addresses.

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Connection Lost:
One in Five US Divorces Linked to Facebook

facebooklogo.jpgSocial networking sites like Facebook are renowned for helping old friends to reconnect.

But this is leading to relationship problems for some users.

A recent survey indicates that one in five divorces in the US are linked to Facebook.

From Science Blog:

“We’re coming across it more and more,” said licensed clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons, Ph.D., of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. “One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.”

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Alias The Jester:
'Patriot' Hacker Takes Down Westboro Baptist Church Website

signs.jpgWestboro Baptist Church has become a focal point for hatred after their pickets of funerals in the US.

Now a 'patriotic' hacker called The Jester has levelled a cyber-attack at the church's website -- using a tool originally developed against Jihadist sites.

From The Register:

The Jester is known to have helped develop an application layer attack tool for assaulting jihadist sites, called XerXeS, a utility he has taken to applying to a range of targets, including WikiLeaks, and also, it is suspected, the controversial church, led by fire-and-brimstone minister Fred Phelps. The tool attacks sites at the application level and is therefore more sophisticated than the packet-flooding LOIC that's become the main artillery piece in assaults by Anons against those who have earned the loosely knit group's collective displeasure over recent months.

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Behind The Mask:
How Anonymous Goverrns Itself

The hacking group Anonymous have become notorious for their attacks on a string of high-profile targets.

As a loosely-organised collective, Anonymous makes decisions in a seemingly chaotic fashion.

This can be seen in the group's reactions to provocation by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church -- known for their pickets of funerals in the US.

From Ars Technica:

Reading the blizzard of Anonymous notes on the topic of Westboro, one can see the hivemind in action. It's chaotic, often at odds with itself, and open to simple infiltration (several pieces suggested that Westboro may have written the initial "Anonymous" press release just to ignite a war). Leadership is exerted through numbers more than through hierarchy.

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Financial Crash:
Stock Exchange Software Malfunctions

onedollarbill.jpgThe London Stock Exchange upgraded its core software last Monday.

But within minutes it was catastrophically malfunctioning.

The new system began displaying incorrect prices, blank prices and erroneous trading volumes.

From Computerworld:

“Within 20 seconds of Millennium Exchange going live on Monday, our systems flagged up significant discrepancies in vendors’ data on share volumes sold on the exchange,” said one source, at the continental office of a tracking firm. “It was a much bigger discrepancy than I have ever seen before, and much bigger than those same vendors were experiencing on different exchanges. It alarmed me.”

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Nano, Nano:
Apple May Launch Smaller iPhone

ipodtouch.jpgWhile Apple has come to dominate the smartphone market, sales of the iPhone are dwarfed by sales of featurephone handsets.

But it is now rumoured that Apple is preparing a cut-down iPhone that would sell for a fraction of the price.

From IGN:

Rumors of a stripped down iPhone have been circulating for years, with some of the earliest reports stretching all the way back to 2008, however, little ever resulted from the reports. According to Cult of Mac, the iPhone nano has been in development since that time, but Apple has had trouble balancing features and low production costs in order to make the device affordable.

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Have You Tried Turning It Off & On Again?
How to Crash The Internet

Researchers have developed a way to crash the entire Internet in principle.

By exploiting a fundamental protocol used by routers, the technique could make previous cyberattacks look insignificant.

From New Scientist:

Schuchard's new attack pits the structure of the internet against itself. Hundreds of connection points in the net fall offline every minute, but we don't notice because the net routes around them. It can do this because the smaller networks that make up the internet, known as autonomous systems, communicate with each other through routers. When a communication path changes, nearby routers inform their neighbours through a system known as the border gateway protocol (BGP). These routers inform other neighbours in turn, eventually spreading knowledge of the new path throughout the internet.

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The Worm That Turned:
Anonymous Take Possession of Stuxnet

Anonymous have made themselves a reputation for causing mischief online.

Now the group claims to be in possession of the Stuxnet worm used to attack Iran's nuclear programme.

From Forbes:

Houston, we have a problem. Or should I say, “Iran, we have your problem?” Last night, a member of hacker group Anonymous – a devious 4chan-spawned Internet coalition known for increasingly serious web-based attacks – announced on Twitter that the group was in possession of the Stuxnet virus.
Stuxnet is one of the more powerful viruses to ever spread across the internet. As Bruce Schneier detailed for Forbes, the worm crippled Iran’s nuclear facility by infiltrating a Siemen’s control system for industrial centrifuges. As I wrote late last year, the Stuxnet virus is a stark example of how cyber attacks can affect brick and mortar institutions.

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The War on WikiLeaks:
Bank of America's Pre-emptive Strike

wikileaks.pngJulian Assange made waves with his threat to expose alleged 'corruption' within the Bank of America.

The financial giant has not taken the threat lightly -- a leaked document reveals that three private intelligence firms have been tasked with attacking WikiLeaks.

From Computerworld:

"The WikiLeaks Threat" outlines a plan by three private data intelligence firms, Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies, which were hired to effectively combat and attack WikiLeaks. The intel firms were "acting upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for Bank of America." According to The Tech Herald, "Hunton and Williams were recommended to Bank of America's general council by the Department of Justice. Hunton and Williams would act as outside counsel on retainer, while Palantir would take care of network and insider threat investigations. For their part, Berico Technologies and HBGary Federal would analyze WikiLeaks."

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Thumbs Up:
A Cunning Way to Read Text Messages

There are times when it's not advisable to let people know that you're in possession of a mobile phone.

Blackberry makers RIM have developed an ingenious way to allow you to read texts without pulling your phone out.

From IntoMobile:

A project sponsored by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion in the UK proposes a bold new use for your battery door. By using piezoelectric technology (which stiffens materials based on electrical current), SkinDisplay is a concept which lets you press your finger into raised text messages on the back of your phone, and read the impression. The idea here is that you could see what’s going on in a discreet way, without pulling out your phone. The actual implementation sounds mostly crazy, but the concept was introduced alongside some software, SmartCall, that actually sounds pretty good; using their app, you would be able to set your current status as busy or otherwise unavailable, as well as request calls back from others within varying time frames and levels of urgency.

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Mr Mussel:
Synthetic Glue Inspired by Mussels

Researchers have developed a synthetic glue inspired by a substance used by mussels to adhere to rocks.

The new adhesive could find uses in underwater machinery as well as myriad surgical applications.

From Science Daily:

Inspiring the invention were the hair-thin holdfast fibers that mussels secrete to stick against rocks in lakes, rivers and oceans. "Everything amazingly just self-assembles underwater in a matter of minutes, which is a process that's still not understood that well," said Niels Holten-Andersen, a postdoctoral scholar with chemistry professor Ka Yee Lee at the University of Chicago.

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A Lo Blow:
Netgear CEO Attacks 'Closed' Apple Products

ipodtouch.jpgPatrick Lo, CEO of Netgear, has used a speech in Sydney to launch a wide-ranging attack on Apple's products.

Lo criticises the proprietary nature of Apple products and believes that the departure of Steve Jobs would force the company to re-evaluate their strategy.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

"Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform," said Lo.
"Ultimately a closed system just can't go that far ... If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it's pretty difficult as I see it."

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Open Warfare:
WikiLeaks Defectors Launch Rival Site

Defectors from WikiLeaks have launched a new site for whistleblowers.

OpenLeaks will not publish material itself but will instead act as a broker to connect leakers to interested third parties.

From Ars Technica:

"OpenLeaks will not accept or publish documents on its own platform, but rather create many 'digital dropboxes' for its community members, each adapted to the specific needs of our members so that they can provide a safe and trusted leaking option for whistleblowers," reads the site. There's also an informational video on Vimeo that spells out the OpenLeaks process visually.

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The Julian Calendar:
How The New York Times Dealt With Assange

wikileaks.pngBill Keller of The New York Times has provided a fascinating insight into the the efforts to publish the WikiLeaks War Logs.

As well as revealing more about the difficulties of working with Julian Assange, he reveals that the Obama Whitehouse was involved in redacting cables before publication.

From The New York Times:

On the fourth day of the London meeting, Assange slouched into The Guardian office, a day late. Schmitt took his first measure of the man who would be a large presence in our lives. “He’s tall — probably 6-foot-2 or 6-3 — and lanky, with pale skin, gray eyes and a shock of white hair that seizes your attention,” Schmitt wrote to me later. “He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days.”

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Free to Those Who Can Afford It:
O2 Offers Free Wi-Fi to Mobile Users

sms.jpgO2 have announced plans to offer free wi-fi in thousands of public places.

Any mobile user will be able to sign up for free access in return for receiving targeted adverts via text message.

From The Register:

Newly-appointed MD of O2 Wi-Fi Gavin Franks expects to see venues such as supermarkets and department stores offering free 02-branded Wi-Fi.
Users wanting to take advantage will need to provide a mobile phone number, from any network, which will be confirmed with a text message. O2 then links the number to the MAC code (unique identity) of the kit connected, enabling it to automatically authorise future connections as well as spotting when the customer enters an area covered - enabling the delivery of the aforementioned advertising by text message or MMS.

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Copyrights & Wrongs:
Lawyer Withdraws From Pursuing File Sharers

A law firm tasked with chasing internet file sharers has dramatically withdrawn from a case involving 27 defendants.

The lawyer at the centre of the case claims that he can no longer work on these types of cases due to harassment.

From BBC News:

The law firm had sent thousands of letters to alleged file-sharers.
But in a statement read to the court, solicitor Andrew Crossley, said he had now ceased all such work.
He cited criminal attacks and bomb threats as reasons.
"I have ceased my work...I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats," he said in the statement, read to the court by MediaCAT's barrister Tim Ludbrook.
"It has caused immense hassle to me and my family," he added.

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Tier For Two:
ISPs Want Two-Speed Internet

The internet has grown by providing a level playing field for the smallest and the largest organisations.

But ISPs want to offer websites the chance to run faster on the network if they pay for the privilege.

This is leading to fears that sites that don't pay will run slowly or even get blocked completely.

From PC Pro:

The free, unrestricted internet as we know it is under threat. Britain’s leading ISPs are attempting to construct a two-tier internet, where websites and services that are willing to pay are thrust into the “fast lane”, while those that don’t are left fighting for scraps of bandwidth or even blocked outright. They’re not so much ripping up the cherished notion of net neutrality as pouring petrol over the pieces and lighting the match. The only question is: can they get away with it?

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Txt 2 Lrn:
Txtng Hlpz Kidz Lrn Wrdz

sms.jpgDo txt msgz make kidz bad @ splng?

Turnz out txtng iz gud 4 literacy OMG111 PONIES!!!

From the Daily Telegraph:

The research, to be published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning next month, found evidence of a “significant contribution of textism use to the children’s spelling development during the study”.
This study, which took account of individual differences in IQ, found higher results in test scores recorded by children using mobile phones after 10 weeks compared with the start of the study.

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Screw You:
Apple Annoys Users With Tamper-Resistant Screws

ipodtouch.jpgApple products such as the iPhone are notorious for being difficult to repair or upgrade. The non-removable battery is designed to ensure you pay Apple to upgrade.

Now Apple are making it even harder to fix your own kit. If you take your iPhone 4 in for service, they will replace the standard Phillips screws with new tamper-resistant screws.

From Network World:

"Apple's latest policy will make your blood boil," says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. "If you take your iPhone 4 into Apple for any kind of service, they will sabotage it by replacing your Phillips screws with the new, tamper-resistant screws. We've spoken with the Apple Store geniuses tasked with carrying out this policy, and they are ashamed of the practice."

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Twits:
Does US Government Twitter Snooping Break EU Law?

wikileaks.pngThe US government has been busy preparing a case against Julian Assange of Wikileaks. They have already made a formal request to Twitter for details of tweets by Assange and his supporters.

But a group of MEPs are questioning whether the US has breached EU privacy laws by snooping on the messages of European citizens.

From THINQ:

"The lack of an identified illegal act and of a judicial enquiry in the US casts a shadow on the whole process of lifting the protection of citizens' privacy for the sake of national security through such subpoena orders," Romanian MEP and ALDE member, Renate Weber, said in a statement.
"The EU should raise with the US authorities the fundamental issue of putting into question those persons who have not committed any crime," she added.

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The Joy of Six:
Major Websites Announce IPv6 Trial

The Internet Protocol or IP is the glue that holds the internet together. But the current version, IPv4, was created at a time when the internet's massive expansion could not have been predicted.

A newer version, IPv6, was created to overcome the problems inherent with the older protocol such as limited IP addresses. But adoption of IPv6 has been slow.

So major sites such as Facebook and Google have announced a trial of IPv6 on June 8th to see if users and providers are ready to leave IPv4 behind.

From Network World:

IPv6 is a necessary upgrade because the Internet is running out of IP addresses using the 30-year-old IPv4 standard.
Less than 5% of IPv4 addresses are left unallocated to the regional Internet registries, which in turn dole them out to network operators. Experts say the free pool of IPv4 addresses will be depleted in a matter of weeks.

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Tweet This Subpoena:
US Justice Dept. Demands Access to WikiLeaks Twitter Accounts

wikileaks.pngThe US Justice Department have served a subpoena on Twitter demanding access to accounts belonging to WikiLeaks staff and supporters.

The social media site has refused to comply with the order until due process has compelled them to do so.

From Boing Boing:

The U.S. Justice Department has ordered Twitter to hand over data associated with multiple user accounts, in preparation for legal action related to Wikileaks.
"There are many WikiLeaks supporters listed in the US Twitter subpoena," Wikileaks stated over Twitter tonight.

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WikiLeaked:
Conflict Between The Guardian & WikiLeaks Revealed

wikileaks.pngVanity Fair have revealed the conflicts between Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and The Guardian.

The enmity came to head when a disgruntled ex-WikiLeaks staffer leaked a cache of documents to Heather Brooke, a prominent freedom of information campaigner.

Assange realised that The Guardian were intended to publish the cache without his prior consent. He stormed into their offices accompanied by lawyers and asserted that the leaked documents were his private property.

From Vanity Fair:

On the afternoon of November 1, 2010, Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks.org, marched with his lawyer into the London office of Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian. Assange was pallid and sweaty, his thin frame racked by a cough that had been plaguing him for weeks. He was also angry, and his message was simple: he would sue the newspaper if it went ahead and published stories based on the quarter of a million documents that he had handed over to The Guardian just three months earlier. The encounter was one among many twists and turns in the collaboration between WikiLeaks—a four-year-old nonprofit that accepts anonymous submissions of previously secret material and publishes them on its Web site—and some of the world’s most respected newspapers. The collaboration was unprecedented, and brought global attention to a cache of confidential documents—embarrassing when not disturbing—about American military and diplomatic activity around the world. But the partnership was also troubled from the start.

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Core:
Researchere Create 1000-core Processor

It's now common for computer processors to have more than one core. A typical computer today may have a processor that has between two and four cores.

But a newly developed chip could outclass these processors by a factor of 20.

From the University of Glasgow:

By creating more than 1,000 mini-circuits within the FPGA chip, the researchers effectively turned the chip into a 1,000-core processor – each core working on its own instructions.
The researchers then used the chip to process an algorithm which is central to the MPEG movie format – used in YouTube videos – at a speed of five gigabytes per second: around 20 times faster than current top-end desktop computers.

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So Cold:
Hotmail Users' Emails Vanish

hotmail.jpgA number of Hotmail users claim that all their emails have been mysteriously deleted.

Microsoft have acknowledged the problem on online support forums. But no explanation or remedy has been forthcoming.

From PC Magazine:

"I have a Hotmail account since I remember myself on the web (1990's)," writes user Yair Gil. "I logged into it on 31th December 2010 at around 06:30hrs. Got an error message and a 'new' hotmail account with a first system welcome message. All previous mails in the inbox are gone and all the folders created are also not there."
There's been no indication as to how many Hotmail users are affected by whatever it is that's going on over on Microsoft's end. Reports of the email outage, for lack of a better term, have been surfacing on Microsoft's help boards since early this past week. According to moderators' responses, Microsoft's product team is allegedly aware of the issue and is actively looking into whatever it might be.

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WTF?:
CIA Launches Wikileaks Task Force

wikileaks.pngThe CIA has launched a task force to assess the damage from release of thousands of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks.

But the WikiLeaks Task Force is unofficially known inside the CIA as WTF -- a common internet acronym that some may find offensive.

From The Washington Times:

"The director asked the task force to examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency's foreign relationships or operations," CIA spokesman George Little said. The panel is being led by the CIA's Counterintelligence Center but has more than two dozen members from departments across the agency.
To some agency veterans, WikiLeaks has vindicated the CIA's long-standing aversion to sharing secrets with other government agencies, a posture that came under sharp criticism after it was identified as a factor that contributed to the nation's failure to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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Wikifeuds:
Assange Falls Out With The Guardian

wikileaks.pngJulian Assange has fallen out with two senior journalists on The Guardian and it is alleged he has severed all connections with the newspaper. More remarkably, it is claimed that he will now deal instead with The Times -- a newspaper not renowned for sympathetic coverage of the Wikileaks affair.

The feud came about when The Guardian published leaked details of the allegations against Assange supplied to his legal team. Assange has characterised this action as an attempt to derail his bail application.

But is Assange guilty of a double standard?

From The Register:

The Times denies any exclusive deal, and has been one of WikiLeaks' and Assange's most vociferous UK critics since the Afghanistan war logs were published. He apparently overlooked that in his interview with the paper however, in which he instead rounded on his former partners at the Guardian.
"The leak of the police report to the Guardian was clearly designed to undermine my bail application," he claimed.
Assange's intolerance of any questioning of his decisions is well documented, so the Guardian can hardly be surprised at its former friend's reaction. Several WikiLeakers, including German spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, left the organisation earlier this year to set up a new transparency project with a flatter power structure, after comparing Assange's behaviour to that of "some kind of emperor".

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Iran Out of Time:
Stuxnet Virus 'Delays Iranian Nuclear Programme by Two Years'

According to a computer expert, the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities has set back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program by two years.

It is believed that Israel’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200 was the creator of the software, possibly in league with the US.

From The Jerusalem Post:

Eric Byres, a computer security expert who runs a website called Tofino Security, which provides solutions for industrial companies with Stuxnet-related problems, told the Post on Tuesday that the number of Iranians visiting his site had jumped tremendously in recent weeks – a likely indication that the virus is still causing great disarray at Iranian nuclear facilities.
“What caught our attention was that last year we maybe had one or two people from Iran trying to access the secure areas on our site,” Byres said. “Iran was never on the map for us, and all of a sudden we are now getting massive numbers of people going to our website, and people who we can identify as being from Iran.”

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Drop Me a Line on Facebook:
Visualising Social Networks

A Facebook engineer has taken data on users and used it to construct a fascinating map showing how friends are connected globally.

Although the social network site has global reach, notable dark spots include Brazil and Russia. The former prefers Orkut while the latter favours LiveJournal.

From Facebook:

When the data is the social graph of 500 million people, there are a lot of lenses through which you can view it. One that piqued my curiosity was the locality of friendship. I was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them.
I began by taking a sample of about ten million pairs of friends from Apache Hive, our data warehouse. I combined that data with each user's current city and summed the number of friends between each pair of cities. Then I merged the data with the longitude and latitude of each city.

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Retail Fail:
Rogue Online Retailer Arrested

Vitaly Borker allegedly had a simple business plan. Advertise luxury goods such as sunglasses online at low prices. Send out counterfeit and defective merchandise to customers. Dismiss complaints by saying that negative publicity boosts his Google ranking. Harass customers who persist in attempts to get their money back.

Borker got away with his dubious business practices for years. His hubris was such that he even gave a candid interview to the New York Times recently. But after horrified Google staffers read his article, they changed their algorithms to bury his listings.

Now the long arm of the law has caught up with him. Borker has been arrested in New York on charges including fraud, cyberstalking and harassment.

From Network World:

In one case, Borker allegedly botched an order, overbilled the customer and then, saying he knew where she lived, threatened her with sexual violence. The calls came again and again, continuing "well into the night," according to an affidavit signed by U.S. Postal Inspector Douglas Veatch. .
Borker told a second customer that he was "instructing his assistant to 'crush' the glasses and then 'take the pieces of what is left of his glasses and use the label he sent to ship the powder back to him," Veatch wrote.

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Bear Baiting:
Kremlin Preparing to Take Action Against Wikileaks?

wikileaks.pngThere is mounting evidence pointing towards a major release by Wikileaks of secrets from The Kremlin that could embarrass Russian leaders.

If the release goes ahead, the consequences for Wikileaks could be far more serious than the cyberattacks previously launched against the site.

From The Daily Beast:

National-security officials say that the National Security Agency, the U.S. government’s eavesdropping agency, has already picked up tell-tale electronic evidence that WikiLeaks is under close surveillance by the Russian FSB, that country’s domestic spy network, out of fear in Moscow that WikiLeaks is prepared to release damaging personal information about Kremlin leaders.
“We may not have been able to stop WikiLeaks so far, and it’s been frustrating,” a U.S. law-enforcement official tells The Daily Beast. “The Russians play by different rules.” He said that if WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, follow through on threats to post highly embarrassing information about the Russian government and what is assumed to be massive corruption among its leaders, “the Russians will be ruthless in stopping WikiLeaks.”

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The Book of Revelation:
Wikileaks Releases 'Damaging' US Embassy Cables

wikileaks.pngWikileaks have released 250,000 US diplomatic cables that contain revelations bound to embarrass the American administration.

As well as indiscreet comments about the conduct of global figures such as Silvio Berlusconi, the cables also contain evidence that diplomats may have been asked to engage in espionage.

From The Guardian:

At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership.
These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches, which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.
These include a shift in relations between China and North Korea, high-level concerns over Pakistan's growing instability, and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

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Changing Change:
Paying With Your Mobile Phone

qrcode.pngPayPal have demonstrated an innovative way to pay for small items such as gumballs from a vending machine. Instead of carrying cards around, all you need is a smartphone.

Their demonstration machine has a two-dimensonal QR barcode. By simply pointing the camera of your phone at the barcode, money is debited from your PayPal account and the vending machine dispenses gumballs accordingly.

From Allvoices:

The machine, otherwise an ordinary gumball vending machine as might be seen in any local mall or grocery store, uses an Ardriuno processor along with a WiShield to enable the process.
The client simply loads a QR code scanner such as QuickMark and scans the code on the machine. Their PayPal account is debited, a Tweet is sent to their phone via Twitter, and the machine delivers a gumball, all in seconds and without any physical interaction with the machine.

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Face the Facts:
Facebook Trademarks 'Face'

facebooklogo.jpgThe runaway success of Facebook has inspired a plethora of sites with 'face' or 'book' in their name. The social networking site has had little success in stemming the tide so far.

That could all change now that the US Patent & Trademark Office have agreed in principle to grant Facebook a trademark on the word 'Face'.

From TechCrunch:

Facebook is just a payment away from trademarking the word “Face.” As of today the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office has sent the social networking site a Notice of Allowance, which means they have agreed to grant the “Face” trademark to Facebook.
All Facebook needs to do is pay the issue fee within three months of today and the “Face” trademark will be issued and be published in the official USPTO gazette and everything.

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The Knight's Tale:
Inventor of the Web Defends Openness

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has used an editorial in Scientific American to defend the principles of openness that have allowed his invention to proliferate rapidly.

In a lengthy jeremiad, Sir Tim warns that a combination of closed social networking sites, 'two-speed' internet provision, and state surveillance, threatens to eliminate the free flow of communication on the Web.

From Scientific American:

The Web as we know it... is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.
If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want. The ill effects could extend to smartphones and pads, which are also portals to the extensive information that the Web provides.

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Leak Soup:
Wikileaks Latest Release '7x the Size of the Iraq War Logs'

wikileaks.pngWikileaks have announced the impending release of classified material -- a cache of documents seven times the size of the Iraq War Logs.

The announcement comes at a time of intense controversy for the group. Wikileaks' Julian Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over allegations of sexual assault.

From Computerworld:

In a note on Twitter, Wikileaks said, "Next release is 7x the size of the Iraq War Logs. Intense pressure over it for months," and asked supporters to continue donating to the cause.
Wikileaks made global headlines this year by releasing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. war documents about actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, called the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary. Since then, the group has alleged harassment by government organizations from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Swedish police. Wikileaks' main servers are located in Sweden.

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Caught in the Net:
Anti-Piracy Law Firm 'Knowingly Targeted the Innocent'

Record labels and movie studios use a variety of tactics to combat illegal filesharing. One strategy is to employ lawyers to track down filesharers and demand financial compensation for loss of revenue.

Now a major UK law firm stands accused of demanding hundreds of pounds in damages from internet users in spite of question marks over the reliability of the evidence.

From The Register:

London-based Davenport Lyons threatened thousands of people with legal action for alleged copyright infringement between 2006 and 2009. They were told that by quickly paying around £500 damages, plus costs, they could avoid court.
Following complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Davenport Lyons now stands accused of deliberately ignoring concerns over the standard of its evidence. It matched IP addresses captured from movie and videogame BitTorrent swarms with customer records obtained from ISPs by court order.

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No Laughing Matter:
Chinese Woman Jailed For Retweeting Joke

wangyi09.jpgA Chinese woman has been jailed for one year in a labour camp after retweeting a joke.

She was sentenced to 're-education through labour' for retweeting a suggestion that Chinese youth attack the Japanese Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

From The Washington Post:

Her fiance Hua Chunhui made a satirical comment mocking youth demonstrators who smashed Japanese products in protest over a dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
"Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago by Guo Quan [an activist and expert on the Nanjing Massacre]. It's no new trick. If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you'd immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese Expo pavilion," Hua wrote.
Cheng retweeted the message and added "Charge, angry youth!" in a message, which has since disappeared from the micro-blogging site.

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Blooming Great:
The Upgradable, Recyclable Bloom Laptop

Laptops are a modern miracle but they're more difficult to upgrade than desktop computers. They're also harder to recycle.

A new concept laptop has been developed by students at Stanford University that addresses these problems. The Bloom laptop makes it easy for users to upgrade and makes recycling a snap.

From Gizmag:

As part of Stanford’s ME310 industrial design course, design software maker Autodesk asked the students to create an easily-recyclable consumer electronics product, using the company's software. What they came up with was the Bloom laptop, which can be completely disassembled by hand, in under 30 seconds, and in ten steps. By contrast, a traditional laptop requires three tools, up to 120 steps, and takes about 45 minutes.

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Holy Porn Lawsuit, Batman:
Adult Studio Sues File Sharers

Hollywood studios have attracted controversy by pursuing file sharers who pirate their movies.

Now a well-known US adult studio has got in on the act and filed a federal copyright suit against 7,098 individuals.

From CNET:

Axel Braun Productions filed the complaint Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, alleging that the defendants illegally shared the adult film "Batman XXX: A Porn Parody." The film was written and directed by Axel Braun and distributed by Vivid Entertainment, one of the country's best known porn studios.

Image Credit: Axel Braun

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So Lame:
Lamebook Sues Facebook in Trademark Dispute

Lamebook is a humourous site that lets Facebook users submit amusing status updates and pictures originating from the social networking site.

Facebook is notorious for suing soundalike sites -- but Lamebook have bitten back with their own lawsuit.

From TechCrunch:

According to the complaint, Facebook counsel first contacted Lamebook back in March 2010, asking them to cease and desist using the Lamebook mark and change the name and look of its website. They repeated this request several times over the next few months and are now threatening to take the small company to court to get their way.
Basically, Lamebook’s counterargument is that its site is a clear parody to Facebook and as such does not infringe or dilute the Facebook mark, and enjoys protection under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

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Bad News Travels Fast:
How the Internet is Outpacing Old Media
by Spike Spiegel

The old adage states that bad news travels fast. Recent tragedies illustrate this point all too easily.

I am an avid consumer of news and check myriad sites all day for the latest headlines. My media consumption also includes around one to three hours of news and current affairs TV programmes every day.

Yet I first heard the news of Alexander MacQueen's death on Facebook. The first rumours of a massacre in Cumbria came to my attention initially on Twitter.

It seems that in the quest to deliver news quicker, social networks are outpacing traditional media outlets.

Now you could say that there's an element of sampling bias here. After all, I check social networking sites more often that news sites in the course of a day.

Even if it's true that I am biased slightly, the ability of social networks to propagate information quickly represents one of the greatest threats to the viability of the mainstream media as it stands.

The power of social networks to trump the news media was amply illustrated by the recent Trafigura case. As little as two decades ago, The Sunday Times' Insight team were legendary for exposes such as the secret Israeli nuclear programme.

But this was a time when newspapers could throw huge amounts of money at investigative journalism. Such largesse was necessary to sustain investigations that could last months or even years.

Those days are long gone and the importance of investigate journalism has diminshed. So when The Guardian's reporting of Trafigura's activities was suppressed by a superinjunction, their editorship chose not to publish and be damned.

The nature of this move meant that they couldn't even report the existence of any legal action against them. This contrasts sharply with the Spycatcher case.

The Thatcher Government blew £3 million over two and a half years in an effort to stop publication of that infamous tome. But their efforts were undone by newspapers such as The Sunday Times publishing extracts of the book. The fact that the book was freely available outside the UK didn't help either.

In the present day, newspapers such as The Guardian are far more wary of breaching the law and bringing the ire of establishment down upon them. The financial health of the news media is precarious enough as it is without inviting punitive sanctions such as fines and libel awards.

But when news of the superinjunction spilled onto Twitter, Trafigura rapidly became the number one trending topic. The oxygen of publicity rapidly made their legal action moot and Trafigura caved in to pressure.

Whilst The Guardian were vulnerable to litigation, the masses on Twitter were never in such danger. The company behind Twitter could evade the issue of liability by saying that their service is unmoderated and therefore more akin to a common carrier like a postal service than a news outlet.

Never mind the logistics of pursuing thousands of Twitter users through the courts. It is this fundamental difference between social networks and traditional media that is slowly undermining the status quo.

Social networks may be fast and pervasive but news outlets have the upper hand for now in terms of their breadth and depth of reporting. Bloggers howl loudly when their ability to report the news is impugned.

The fact is that the blogosphere has a long way to go before it can match traditional media in terms of depth and accuracy. However it is only matter of time before this starts to change.

Traditional media is constrained by financial reality. Newspapers are closing all over the world and not enough new publications are springing up to replace them.

The blogosphere is not subject to these limitations. In time, bloggers will become more professional and this will sound the death knell for news media as we know it.

In many ways, news outlets are in the same position as the music industry was a few years ago. The ability to share music online with ease has been categorised as a 'disruptive' technology.

Even though the music industry was well aware of this new technology, they hemmed and hawwed while Apple outmanoeuvred them to become the world's largest distributor of digital music.

Traditional media is now being similarly disrupted. Complacency by the industry will only lead to further decline.

This is one piece of bad news that doesn't travel fast as far as the news media is concerned.

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Are You Experienced?:
Materialistic People Less Likable Than 'Experiential' Types
by Simon Magus

A new study shows that materialistic people are liked less by their peers than people who pursue happiness through life experiences.

The researchers are focused on the social costs and benefits of pursuing happiness through the acquisition of life experiences such as travelling and going to concerts against the purchase of material possessions such as luxury goods.

"We have found that material possessions don't provide as much enduring happiness as the pursuit of life experiences," said Professor Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado.

"The mistake we can sometimes make is believing that pursuing material possessions will gain us status and admiration while also improving our social relationships."

"In fact, it seems to have exactly the opposite effect."

"This is really problematic because we know that having quality social relationships is one of the best predictors of happiness, health and well-being."

"So for many of us we should rethink these decisions that we might make in terms of pursuing material possessions versus life experiences."

"Trying to have a happier life by the acquisition of material possessions is probably not a very wise decision."

In one experiment, undergraduates discussed a material possession or a life experience they had purchased and were happy with.

After talking for 15 or 20 minutes, they were then asked about their conversation partners by the researchers.

"What we found was that people who had discussed their material possessions liked their conversation partner less than those who had discussed an experience they had purchased," Professor Van Boven said.

"They also were less interested in forming a friendship with them, so there's a real social cost to being associated with material possessions rather than life experiences."

In another experiment using a national survey, the researchers told people about someone who had purchased a material item such as a new shirt or a life experience like a concert ticket.

They then asked them a number of questions about that person and found that simply learning that someone made a material purchase caused them to like him or her less.

"We have pretty negative stereotypes of people who are materialistic," said Professor Van Boven said.

"When we asked people to think of someone who is materialistic and describe their personality traits, selfish and self-centred come up pretty frequently."

"However, when we asked people to describe someone who is more experiential in nature, things like altruistic, friendly and outgoing come up much more frequently."

So what do you do if you really likes to buy lots of material possessions?

"The short answer is you should try to change," Professor Van Boven said.

"Not just our research, but a lot of other research has found that people who are materialistic incur many mental health costs and social costs -- they're less happy and more prone to depression."

One thing you can do is choose to be around people who are less interested in material goods.

"It's not a quick fix, but it can be done," said Professor Van Boven.

"I think what makes it particularly challenging is that it requires some extra effort and mindfulness about the way we make decisions about how to be happy in life."

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iWar:
Apple Declares War on Google With New Mobile Ads
by Simon Magus

ipodtouch.jpgSteve Jobs of Apple has unveiled iAd -- a new platform that integrates ads into iPhone and iPad apps.

As Google seeks to dominate ad sales in all markets, the move has been interpreted as the latest salvo in the rivalry between the two companies.

"On the desktop, search is where it's at, that's where the money is," said Jobs in a keynote speech announcing a new version of the iPhone OS.

"But on a mobile device search hasn't happened, search is not where it's at."

"People aren't searching on a mobile device like they do on a desktop."

"What's happening is they're spending all of their time on apps."

"They're using apps to get the data on the Internet rather than a generalised search."

"This is where the opportunity to deliver advertising is."

"Not as part of search but as part of apps."

The new iAd platform allows software developers to embed ads directly into applications being offered for the iPhone, the iPod Touch and now the iPad.

Ads are built in HTML5 -- allowing for interactive content and rich media including video.

Apple will sell and host the ads -- giving developers 60 per cent of the revenue while keeping the remaining 40 per cent.

The company originally planned to buy mobile ad broker AdMob but Jobs stated that Google 'snatched them from us because they didn't want us to have them.'

Instead Apple paid $270 million for Quattro Wireless, a smaller rival -- it is believed that their existing infrastructure will be the basis for the new iAd platform.

Developers and ad agencies have welcomed the new initiative.

"From a developer point of view it's fantastic," said Magnus Jern, chief executive of Golden Gekko, a mobile applications developer.

"It has lots of advantages because users don't need to leave the app and there would be higher CPM [ad rates]."

"It's a major leap forward from the majority of 'in-app' iPhone advertising formats that have existed to date, which were just simple slabs of text with a logo and a call to action," said Nigel Morris, chief executive of Aegis Media North America.

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iPredict a Riot:
Five Possible Uses for the iPad
by Simon Magus

Never before has a new product polarised opinion in the blogosphere. The iPad has attracted derision and fanaticism warring factions debate the merits of the new device.

Detractors claim it is an expensive notebook with closed hardware that locks users into Apple's ecosystem. But fans of the iPad believe that it represents a new kind of device.

Is the iPad going to usher in a new age of innovation? Let's speculate upon the possibilities.

1. Mapping

This could be the first real killer app -- the iPad has GPS and a large touchscreen. Slap TomTom on there and you could have the best SatNav ever. If future versions incorporate a camera, then there's the tantalising possibility of 'augmented reality'. Imagine pointing the iPad's camera at a street and getting road names placed over each junction.

2. Jukebox

The iPad could sound the death-knell for traditional hi-fis. Hook up a Mac to your speaker system and use the Apple Remote app to easily browse your music collection. It's perfect for shops and bars where you don't want staff fiddling under the counter as they change CDs.

3. Menu

Lots of restaurants now use handheld computers to take orders and beam them to the kitchen. Why not cut out the middleman and put an iPad menu on the table? You can view pictures of the dishes, read detailed wine tasting notes, get recommendations on which drinks match dishes, and then beam your order.

4. Medical Records

The clipboard at the end of the hospital bed could be a thing of the past. Tablet computers have been used in hospitals for many years but they are very expensive. The cheapo iPad could allow doctors to view historical and live data on patients, view X-rays, browse MRI scans, and so on.

5. Musical Instrument

Touch pads have been a part of electronic music ever since the invention of the drum machine. More recently, innovative musicians have been replacing guitar strings with touch screens to create the ultimate MIDI controller. But the iPad offers a blank canvas to creative musicians. The only limit is the imagination.

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It is Too Early to Say:
Criticism of Novel Products is Nothing New For Apple
by Simon Magus

The launch of Apple's iPad tablet computer has drawn widespread criticism from all and sundry.

But the employees of the company have seen worse reactions to previous launches -- those products went on to make billions of dollars in profit.

A Brief History of Apple

Some historical context would be useful before we plunge into the various product launches of Christmas Past.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in the late 1970's from an infamous garage in California.

Jobs' mercurial personality drove the company to revolutionise the computer industry with products such as the Apple II and Macintosh.

But by the late-1980's, Jobs had been ousted by the very man that he himself had brought in to drive the company further -- John Sculley, formerly an executive for PepsiCo.

During his wilderness years, Jobs occupied himself with the NeXT computer -- essentially a more powerful version of the Macintosh in all but name.

NeXT ultimately failed as a hardware company but did have some success with their software -- WebObjects was one of the earliest e-commerce offerings taken up by large corporations.

The NeXT computer also has a place in history as the machine used by Tim Bermers-Lee to create WorldWideWeb -- the world's first web browser.

But NeXT may have failed to thrive because Jobs was more focused with his other company -- a computer animation studio bought from George Lucas called Pixar.

With the roaring success of movies such as Toy Story, it seemed as if Jobs was destined never to return to the scene of his first glory.

But as Jobs' studio was picking up Oscars, Apple was in serious danger of going out of business.

Sculley may have ousted Jobs but he and his successors ultimately failed to drive the company forward.

By the mid-1990s, the Mac OS was looking long in the tooth and frustrating users with frequent crashes.

The product line had stagnated with a confusing range of models that had bizarre features such as built-in TV tuners.

Apple's board took the bold decision to shore up the flagging morale of the company by purchasing NeXT and re-appointing Jobs as CEO.

Although it was initially an interim appointment -- Jobs joked that he was the iCEO -- his old management style kicked back in.

He was soon cutting a swathe through the decaying company by abandoning the Newton handheld and rationalising the confused range of desktops and laptops.

The ageing Mac OS was dropped in favour of the NeXT OS which was given a shiny new look to make it more Mac-like.

Jobs signalled a new era with the launch of the iMac -- the iBook, iPod, iPhone, and a host of other devices followed that assured the future of a company that once faced oblivion.

The point of all this historical meandering is to demonstrate two points.

Firstly, that Jobs rescued the company from itself and all his decisions are driven by the knowledge that Apple has to prosper at all costs.

Secondly, Jobs is not afraid of iconoclasm -- such as the first iMac having no floppy drive or launching a mobile phone without a keypad.

Past launches have inspired violent reactions but Apple has usually been vindicated -- most of the time.

Let's take a look back at past product launches to see what the reaction was -- and how they actually fared in the market.

1998: iMac

The iMac was the breakthrough product that revived Apple -- but it faced criticisms for lacking a floppy drive.

It also used USB ports -- a departure from the ADB and SCSI ports used previously -- drawing complaints from users that their old peripherals would be obsolete.

But the iMac went on to become the top-selling computer in its first year on sale.

800,000 iMacs were sold in that year -- with Apple's total retail sales jumping 176%.

After several revisions, the iMac is still a key part of the Apple product range.

2000: Power Mac G4 Cube

A rare failure for the company, the Cube was praised for its good looks but failed to make enough profits.

It was essentially the guts of a laptop in an transparent plastic cube measuring 8" x 8' x 8"-- reminiscent of the legendary cuboid computers made by NeXT.

But there was little love for the silent beauty and the device was put 'on ice' in 2001.

However, the Cube lives on in some shape or form as the Mac Mini launched in 2005 -- the dimintive Mini is the same basic idea in a smaller housing.

As the cheapest Mac in the range, the Mini has proved to be a strong seller for first-time buyers looking to switch from PCs as well as those looking for a 'media centre' they can hook up to a TV.

At the time of writing, Mac Mini models hold the number 2 and 3 spots in Amazon's list of top-selling desktops.

2001: iPod

Although MP3 players were nothing new, Apple entered the market with an innovative interface and a hard drive that allowed for far greater capacity.

But sceptics heaped criticism on the fact that it was expensive and only featured a FireWire connector -- ubiquitous on Macs but rarely found on PCs.

Consumers felt differently and snapped up the iPod as it succeeded where others had failed by integrating closely with the iTunes client software.

Within three years, Apple had taken 70% of the market share for MP3 players.

The iTunes Store then went on to popularise paid music downloads and Apple is now the largest distributor of digital music in the world.

2007: iPhone

The iPhone was the clearest demonstration of Jobs' iconoclasm -- a touchscreen phone with no keypad.

Worst still, the first model was 2G only and featured a risible 2 megapixel camera without a flash.

But the real kicker was the eye-watering price -- as well as paying for the phone, users had to sign an 18-month contract with AT&T for mobile service.

Apple did listen to critics and quickly dropped the price -- the iPhone now retails for one-sixth of the price of the original 8GB iPhone.

By the end of 2009, 33.75 million iPhones had been sold.

They also repeated history by creating the App Store to sell software to users in the same way they had popularised music downloads.

The billionth application sold on the App store was downloaded on April 23rd 2009.

At the time of writing, that figure has jumped to three billion applications downloaded.

And the moral of the story is...

Futurology is perhaps a job best left to prophets and augurs.

The knee-jerk criticism of the iPad puts me in mind of Zhou Enlai, first Premier of the People's Republic of China.

When asked for his assessment of the 1789 French Revolution, he replied:

"It is too early to say."

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I Feel Lucky:
Google Launches Nexus One Smartphone
by Simon Magus

Google has caused ructions in the mobile phone industry with the launch of a new smartphone dubbed the Nexus One.

The touchscreen device has already been nicknamed the 'iPhone killer'.

"The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call ‘superphones,’ with the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset making it as powerful as your laptop computer of three to four years ago," said Andy Rubin, Google's vice president of engineering for mobile.

"It's our way to raise the bar on what's possible when it comes to creating the best mobile experience for consumers."

The Nexus One is an improvement on the iPhone in many respects -- as well as having a faster processor, it also has a large bright 800x480 pixel screen, memory expandable by the user up to 32gb as well as a removable battery.

The software on the Nexus One also puts the iPhone to shame in some areas -- voice recognition features allow users to dictate and send emails and instant messages.

“The evolution we’ve seen around voice recognition in the past year or two has just been phenomenal,” said Erick Tseng, senior product manager at Google.

“We wanted to take it to the next level.”

Google have seen the success of the iPhone's App Store and have launched a retail site to offer apps as well as sell the phone hardware itself.

The Nexus One will be sold by Google in an unlocked version for $529 -- it will be available from $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile USA.

A deal with Vodafone means that the Nexus One will be available in Europe later in the year.

Although some see the Nexus One as a direct competitor to the iPhone, Google hopes to sell much more advertising served via the phone.

"This is the next front of our core business," said Rubin.

When Rubin was asked if a free ad-supported phone was a possibility in the future, he was reticent to disclose future strategy.

“The first baby step here is: Let’s get an online story going and let’s figure out what they best way to enhance it in the future."

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Get Firefoxed:
Microsoft Recommends Rivals To Mac Users
by The Mullah

firefoxeatsie.jpgMicrosoft may be rivals with the makers of the Firefox web browser -- but that hasn't stopped them recommending their competitors to Mac users.

When a journalist decided to view the MSN Video page using a browser set to tell the server that it was IE 5.0 for Mac, he saw the following message:

"We recommend the following browsers: Internet Explorer 6 or 7 and FireFox 2.x on Windows XP SP2, Internet Explorer 7 and FireFox 2.x on Windows Vista, FireFox 2.x on Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger."

"What really caught our attention was the recommended browsers: IE 6 or 7 -- predictably -- but Firefox 2.0 as the second option, both on Windows and on Mac OS X," said Fernando Cassia of The Inquirer, an irreverent and much-loved website that reports on IT matters.

"So, we guess that Microsoft is still not aware of the Firefox 3.0 release, yet."

The move to endorse Firefox is notable as Microsoft originally recommended Mac users migrate to Apple's Safari browser when IE for the Mac was discontinued in 2006.

It also contradicts some of the remarks made by Microsoft's leader Steve Ballmer -- he has been scathing in the past about the value of free software packages like Firefox.

"Our goal is to try to educate people on what it means to protect intellectual property and pay for it properly," he said.

It could be said that recommending free software on your website is one way to educate people about paying for it properly -- or maybe not.

What is closer to the truth is that Microsoft have conceded defeat in the browser war -- at least on the ascendant Mac platform.

"We feel like it's smarter for us to do new things rather than bringing another browser to the Mac," said Ballmer.

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Bitter Coffee:
The Storm In A Coffee Cup
by Simon Magus

coffeebeans.jpgInternet users around the world have been amused and appalled by one blogger's account of a 'coffee rage' incident at a snooty outlet in Arlington County, Virginia.

Jeff Simmermon, 32, hails from Brooklyn and considers his right to drink coffee anyway he wants to be a fundamental right.

But he couldn't have anticipated the furore that a simple request for an iced espresso would cause when he walked into the door of Murky Coffee, which has a stringent list of rules about what customers can and cannot ask for.

Viewers of Seinfeld will probably be having visions of the 'Soup Nazi' when they read the following:

"We have some policies at Murky Coffee," said Nicholas Cho, owner of the coffeeshop.

"No modifications to the Classic Cappuccino."

"No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate (during the months we offer it)."

"No espresso in a to-go cup."

"No espresso over ice."

"These are our policies."

"We have our reasons, and we’re happy to share them."

Out-of-towner Simmermon thus had no idea of what was waiting for him when he walked into Murky Coffee and asked for his usual summertime tipple of iced espresso.

"I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here," said the barista.

"It’s against our policy."

"Okay,” replied Simmermon, "I’ll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please."

That didn't violate their rules, so he was served the drink and as he prepared to mix it with ice, the barista took the opportunity to admonish him.

"Hey man, what you’re about to do...that’s really, really not okay," said David Flynn, the barista working on the counter.

"This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee."

"It’s about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us."

"So I mean, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and I can’t stop you, but-"

"You’re goddamned right you can’t stop me,” Simmermon interrupted.

"I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this -- and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for."

He then proceeded to mix the two and set off something of a storm in a coffee cup.

His parting shot was to leave a $1 bill as a tip, inscribed with the legend: 'Fuck you and your precious coffee policy.'

Simmermon went on to blog about the incident at his site andiamnotlying.com -- which eventually got a reaction from Murky Coffee's owner.

But far from vindicating him, Cho's pretentious language only seems to confirm Simmermon's opinion that Murky Coffee are too 'precious' about coffee.

"The fact is, there's a lot more to coffee than people think, and there was a time that a career position like a 'sommelier' was completely absurd (before wine became 'fancy') too," Cho said.

"There's a craft to coffee, that most people haven't been exposed to."

"When we first opened our shop, nobody had ever seen 'latte art' before, or was thinking about coffee bean varietals."

"Just as the average person understands at least that a 'merlot' is different from a 'chardonnay', maybe someday people will understand that a coffee brewed from bourbon varietal from a particular coffee farm in El Salvador is different from a particular lot of Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia."

"Right now, to most people, coffee is coffee, just like a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke."

Cho clearly believes that keeping the integrity of his coffee is better than keeping his customers.

"To others reading this I will say that if you don't like the policies, I respectfully recommend that you find some other place that will give you what you want, or select something that we can offer you," he said.

For his part, Simmeron is ambiguous about his reaction to the incident.

"I have mixed feelings about it, and I'm not really proud of the behaviour that triggered this," he said.

"These things take on a life of their own, and I don't want to be a part of it."

"He had a bad day, the owner had a bad day, and I had a bad day."

"That's all."

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Rant In G Minor:
Microsoft Founder Is As Frustrated As Users
by Simon Magus

billgates.jpgAn investigative journalist has analysed hundreds of internal Microsoft e-mails submitted as evidence in anti-monopoly lawsuits -- he discovered an angry rant from Bill Gates that reveals a frustration with their products that users should find familiar.

Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer found the five-year-old e-mail while preparing a major series of articles about Gates' departure from day-to-day life at Microsoft.

"It shows that even the Microsoft co-founder -- who champions the 'magic of software' -- isn't immune to the frustrations of everyday computer users," said Bishop.

The e-mail details Gates' difficulties in downloading a copy of Windows Movie Maker, a simple video editing program aimed at consumers.

Things started to go wrong when Gates had difficulty connecting to the download site.

"This site is so slow it is unusable," he wrote in the e-mail.

His problems multiplied when the complex nature of the Windows operating system turned what should be a simple operation into something more arcane.

"In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve," Gates wrote.

"It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations."

"This struck me as completely odd."

Gates attempted to continue installation of the software, but the process ended up damaging the 'Add/Remove Programs' control panel that should make installing software easy.

"Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable?" he wrote.

"What an absolute mess."

It is clear from the e-mail that Gates was intensely displeased by his failure to complete what should be a simple task.

"So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package," wrote Gates.

"The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind."

When asked about the e-mail by Bishop, Gates was blase about the e-mail and the tone of its content.

"There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail...like that piece of e-mail," he said with a smile.

"That's my job."

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iPhone 2.0:
Apple Rolls Out 3G Model And Slashes Price
by Simon Magus

iphone3g.jpgApple have launched the 3G version of their iPhone -- as well as improved hardware, the company plans to sell the phone for a mere US$299.

CEO Steve Jobs indicated that the price cut is a deliberate move to make the iPhone as much of a mass-market item as the iPod.

"It changes the game for all smartphone makers," said Tim Bajarin, head of Creative Strategies, a technology consultancy.

The new iPhone also signals a new relationship between Apple and the mobile networks.

Previously Apple demanded a slice of the monthly revenue from each iPhone -- but that money will now be used by the networks to subsidise the price of the new iPhone.

"The vast majority of agreements we have reached do not have those follow-on payments, so you can conclude that the vast majority of carriers do provide subsidies for the phone," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer,

The change in business model will hurt AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the US -- the company expects a significant drop in revenue.

But analysts believe that in spite of the lower price and loss of call revenues, Apple will come out on top.

"It is still a very profitable business," said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research.

"Now the negative is they announced the elimination of some of the monthly fees."

"But I can't really imagine the economics really being too much different."

"These lower price points seem somewhat designed to cope with the economy, the softer environment."

"They definitely make this product more resilient."

As well as support for faster mobile broadband over 3G networks, the new iPhone also boasts GPS and tools to allow easy access to corporate networks -- making iPhone a serious competitor to devices such as the Blackberry, manufactured by RIM.

"This positions Apple well vis a vis other smartphone competitors such as Nokia and RIM," said Shannon Cross of Cross Research.

"iPhone is no longer an expensive device."

"It's now priced at the mass market."

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Spam Is Bad For The Constitution:
Court Rules That Bulk E-Mail For Profit Is Not Free Speech
by Simon Magus

spam.jpgVirginia's Supreme Court has upheld the first ever felony conviction of a spammer under the state's anti-spam law -- spam cannot be considered protected speech under the constitution.

"This is a historic victory in the fight against online crime," said Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Attorney General.

"Spam not only clogs e-mail inboxes and destroys productivity -- it also defrauds citizens and threatens the online revolution that is so critical to Virginia's economic prosperity."

Jeremy Jaynes was one of the world's most prolific spammers -- he is thought to have made millions of dollars in revenue from sending unsolicited bulk e-mail.

His lucrative trade came to an end when Virginia prosecutors took advantage of the fact that his e-mails transited via a server located in the state, operated by AOL.

Jaynes was sentenced in 2004 to nine years in jail for violating the Virginia Anti-Spam Act.

He has been under house arrest during the appeal process -- Jaynes hoped that his e-mails would be protected as free speech under the US constitution.

But the state's Supreme Court took the opposite view in a 4-3 decision, ruling that commercial material was not covered by the constitution.

The dissenters on the Supreme Court's panel took a different position, stating that the decision sets a difficult precedent.

Justice Elizabeth Lacy claimed that the Virginia Anti-Spam Act was 'unconstitutionally overbroad on its face, because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mail including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States constitution.'

Jaynes' defence took consolation from the dissenting opinion.

"Unfortunately, the state that gave birth to the First Amendment has, with this ruling, diminished that freedom for all of us," said Thomas Wolf, the lawyer representing Jaynes in court.

"As three justices pointed out in dissent, the majority's decision will have far reaching consequences."

"The statute criminalises sending bulk anonymous e-mail, even for the purpose of petitioning the government or promoting religion."

Jon Praed, a lawyer with Internet Law Group, described the ruling as 'groundbreaking.'

"Before this case, the only spammers who had been convicted were convicted of things that were crimes without reference to their spamming activity," he said.

"It was important to establish that spam is illegal because it's unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail -- without regard to the quality of the content that you're advertising."

Jaynes' case may now go up for appeal before the US Supreme Court, according to his lawyer.

"We are going to study these lengthy opinions, but I don't see us giving up on these important constitutional issues," said Wolf.

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RIP HD DVD:
Toshiba Wave The White Flag In HD Format War
by Mullah-San

hddvddisc.jpgThe heavyweight battle for dominance in the HD disc market is over -- Sony's Blu Ray format has won out over Toshiba's HD DVD.

Although format wars in the past have been costly for all involved, Toshiba thought that it could take on the might of Sony -- originator of the CD along with Royal Dutch Phillips -- but they had underestimated the power of Sony's gaming division.

By installing Blu Ray into the third version of Sony's Playstation console, Sony has already bought themselves a tremendous advantage over Toshiba.

But it was last month's decision by Warner Brothers to drop HD DVD in favour of Blu Ray that signed the death warrant for the nascent format.

"That had tremendous impact," said Atsutoshi Nishida, president of Toshiba.

"If we had continued, that would have created problems for consumers, and we simply had no chance to win."

In some parts of Toshiba's global empire, senior executives are manfully spinning the defeat into a victory of sorts.

"The projected lifespan of HD DVD has shortened significantly due to the acceleration of digital content distribution via the internet," said Mark Whittard, general manager of Toshiba Australia.

"We believe that technology developments will leapfrog high definition, whether it be HD DVD or Blu Ray discs."

Sony refuted Mr Whittard's argument in no uncertain terms.

"I think if he'd seen the digital download numbers he wouldn't say that," said Michele Garra, managing director of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

"The perception versus the reality is that it's happening a lot more slowly then anyone figured."

"It may still be eight to 10 years away -- at the earliest five if we're wrong."

Consumers with a collection of HD DVD discs may now be feeling disappointed, but Korean manufacturer LG have offered them some comfort.

The company have pledged to retain support for HD DVD for now.

"LG believes that at this present moment in time, it is necessary to provide a player which supports both formats and therefore create simplicity and convenience for the existing HD DVD consumer," read a statement from the manufacturer.

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Texting The Great White Telephone:
Find The Nearest Public Toilet By Mobile
by The Mullah

sms.jpgWestminster council have launched SatLav, a service that allows you to find the nearest public toilet by sending a text that tracks your location.

"From today onwards nobody should ever get caught short again, and we understand how important that is, be it for a young mum with children in tow, older people or friends on a shopping trip or night out," said Councillor Alan Bradley, cabinet member for street environment.

Westminster council aims to make a 'substantial impact on reducing street urination.'

"45,460 litres of urine is at risk of ending up in the city's streets and alleyways through irresponsible and anti-social behaviour," they say.

The service came about as a result of an innovation competition run by the council.

"When I'm out with friends we're always ducking into McDonalds or department stores to use their loos but we feel a bit bad about it," said Gail Knight, a 26-year-old student and the brains behind the idea..

"I thought a text service would be really useful for people on the move."

SatLav has received a warm welcome from the British Toilet Association, the campaign for better public toilets.

"It's the first fully managed service that we're aware of," said Richard Chisnell, British Toilet Association director.

"Thank heavens for Westminster's public toilets."

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borgPhone:
Google Software Will Power 'Thousands' Of New Smartphones
by The Mullah

borg.jpgThe search engine giant Google is not content with taking over your PC -- now they want your mobile. A free Google OS for mobiles has just been announced -- one that the company hopes will run on 'thousands' of phone models.

"This is going to bring the Internet into cell phones in a very cool way," said Andy Rubin of Google's director of mobile platforms and originator of the Android OS that underpins their mobile strategy.

The company is basically giving away for free that which Microsoft wants you to pay for.

Windows Mobile runs on millions of phones, PDAs, SatNavs, and the like -- but they demand a license fee from the manufacturer, which the consumer ends up paying.

Google's Android however will be free of license fees -- and unlike Windows Mobile, it will be 'open source.'

This means that anyone will be able to access the source code that makes up the software -- meaning that it can be endlessly improved by anyone that chooses to do so.

Android's open nature will also make it easier for developers and manufacturers to create new applications -- in stark contrast to the relatively closed iPhone made by Apple.

"This is a shot that is going to be heard around the world, but it's just the first shot in what is going to be a very protracted battle in the next frontier of the mobile Web," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president. of industry analysts Jupiter Research.

The company also announced an alliance with over 30 manufacturers -- as well as stalwarts such as Motorola and Samsung, new kids on the block such as China Mobile have also signed up.

"Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models," said Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive and Apple board member.

No mention was made of Apple's iPhone -- Schmidt appeared onstage with Steve Jobs when the device was first presented to the public, demonstrating a Google Maps application.

How Google's move to enter the mobile marketplace will affect their relationship with Apple remains unclear -- but they definitely sees mobile devices as vital to their future.

"This partnership will help unleash the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the world," said Schmidt.

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Deadly Error:
Computerised Gun Kills 9 And Seriously Injures 14
by Simon Magus

cannon.jpgThe first skirmishes in the war between humans and machines have begun. A computerised cannon used in a live fire exercise by South African soldiers has malfunctioned with tragic consequences -- nine soldiers dead and 14 seriously wounded.

National Defence Force (NDF) spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope said that it "is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have."

"It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers."

The NDF are now investigating if the cause of the failure was due to errors in the software.

But a pessimistic note was sounded by defence expert Helmoed-Römer Heitman, who believes that if "the cause lay in computer error, the reason for the tragedy might never be found."

According to defence engineer and entrepreneur Richard Young, this is not the first time that a computerised or so-called 'smart' weapon has malfunctioned on South African soil.

Young's company C2I2 were commissioned by the SA government to deliver two air defence artillery upgrade programmes during the '90s.

“I personally saw a gun go out of control several times,” said Young, referring to shooting trials at the state-run Alkantpan shooting range.

“They made a temporary rig consisting of two steel poles on each side of the weapon, with a rope in between to keep the weapon from swinging. The weapon eventually knocked the poles down.”

Young attributes the problems with smart weapons to the SA defence force's acquisitions agency, Armscor.

In the '90s, Armscor would allocate money on a yearly basis, resulting in programmes that were often rushed.

“It would not surprise me if major shortcuts were taken in the qualification of the upgrades," Young said.

"A system like that should never fail to the dangerous mode, except if it was a shoddy design or a shoddy modification."

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In Russia, You Listen To Phone Call -- In Soviet America, Phone Call Listens To You!:
Internet Phone Eavesdrops On Your Calls And Targets Ads
by Simon Magus

smirnoff.jpgA new service is offering free phone calls over the internet -- all paid for with revenue generated by targeted ads based on what you're talking about.

“We saw that when people are speaking on the phone, typically they were doing something else,” said Ariel Maislos, head of the system's developer Pudding Media.

“They had a lot of other action, either doodling or surfing or something else like that.

"So we said, ‘Let’s use that’ and actually present them with things that are relevant to the conversation while it’s happening.”

The system is similar to the Adwords service that has generated millions of dollars in revenue for Google.

Whilst Google targets ads based on web searches and text in web pages, Pudding Media are using voice-recognition algorithms to pick out keywords in conversation and serve up ads accordingly.

The software is still in beta and is not always accurate.

"Sometimes crazy things pop up. It actually enriches the conversation, which is very cool," said Maislos.

Potential advertisers have given the development a cautious reception, as concerns over privacy refuse to go away.

“We can never obtain too much information from the targets, and I would love to get my hands on that information,” said Jonathan Sackett of Arnold Worldwide, part of the global marketing and advertising network Havas.

“Still, it makes me caution myself and caution all of us as marketers.

"We really have to look at the situation, because we’re getting more intrusive with each passing technology.”

Pudding Media claim that they do not store phone calls themselves or keep records of keywords used by individual callers.

"Have you talked about mountain biking? We wouldn't know," Maislos confirmed.

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Poacher Turned Gamekeeper?:
Controversial P2P Exec Hired By The BBC
by The Mullah

kazaa.gifThe BBC have hired Anthony Rose, the former Chief Technology Officer of Kazaa -- a controversial P2P outfit accused of installing spyware on computers using their software.

"I am delighted to welcome Anthony to the BBC," said Erik Huggers, controller of BBC Future Media and Technology Group, and a former employee of Microsoft.

"His knowledge and expertise in the digital media field is world class. I look forward to working closely with him to take our on demand services to the next stage."

The BBC has already courted controversy over the shape of the corporation's digital strategy.

A project to create a broadband TV player known as the iPlayer opted to use proprietary technology from Microsoft -- shutting out users of Macs and Unix boxes amongst others.

At the same time, the BBC hired the above quoted Erik Huggers to head up the coming programme of digital services -- a man who worked at Microsoft for over a decade, ending his career as senior director of Windows Digital Media, responsible for the business strategy at their entertainment division

This latest hiring shows that Ashley Highfield, the corporation's head honcho in the field of New Media, is unafraid of making controversial decisions.

As well as Rose's experience of P2P file-sharing, he also has expertise in the field of Digital Right Management (DRM) -- the anti-piracy technology advocated by Microsoft that restricts the rights of users to playback and store the media they own.

It is Microsoft's use of DRM that prevents the BBC iPlayer from working on other platforms such as the Mac -- the Redmond-based software company refuses to support computers that don't use their Windows operating system.

Although the BBC press office released the news through their own site, at the time of writing it is conspicously absent from their main news site.

Perhaps Highfield is afraid of controversy after all?

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Touch Me, I'm Steve Jobs:
New iPod Is iPhone Without The Phone
by The Mullah

ipodtouch.jpgApple's newest iPod bears a striking resemblance to the iPhone -- in essence, it's an iPhone without the phone.

“The iPod touch is a landmark iPod, ushering in a whole new generation of features based on its revolutionary multi-touch interface and built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

“People are going to be amazed at how thin it is and how much it does.”

The newest iPod has less memory that the iPhone, but is much thinner -- the new device is a mere 8mm thick.

Apart from playing songs and videos, the iPod touch comes with wireless networking and the Safari web browser.

"Others have done this and have failed," Jobs said, possibly alluding to the botched implementation of wireless networking on Microsoft's Zune music player.

"We think we know why it's failed. What's the problem with adding Wi-Fi? Part of it is getting on Wi-Fi itself.

"When you're at home, you might need a password. When you're in the office, you might have a password.

"But everywhere in between can be challenging. You go to any hotel, and to log in, they throw up a web page. Portable devices don't know how to deal with web pages.

"You go to an airport, you'll see a web page. Even walking through Stanford University, to use their Wi-Fi, you have to log into a web page.

"So you can view all those web pages, zoom in, log into any Wi-Fi network pretty much. But beside that, you get an incredible web browser -- the best web browser on any mobile platform."

Jobs also announced a version of the iTunes music store that runs on the iPod itself -- as long as there's a Wi-Fi connection available.

starbucks.jpgApple have formed an alliance with Starbucks -- the coffee chain has become a significant record company in its own right, boasting artists such as Ray Charles and Bob Dylan on its roster.

The new iPod touch will allow users sitting in Starbucks to purchase the track that they are listening to at the moment, as well as reviewing the previous ten tracks played.

Early coverage of the new iPod has been generally positive, ranging from the guardedly cautious to something approaching gushing hyperbole.

"Apple you’ve done it again. It’s time the competition just packed up and went home," wrote one correspondent on the website of T3, a glossy magazine for gadget aficionados.

In the opinion of this correspondent, the device is clearly a shot across the bows of the mobile networks.

Many of the problems with the iPhone's launch related to AT&T's infrastructure -- which was out of the control of Apple and no doubt caused immense frustration to Steve Jobs, a notable control freak.

The iPhone was also notable for eschewing mobile-only standards such as WAP browsers and MMS messaging in favour of the more universal HTML browser and e-mail.

Apple and AT&T fundamentally have different agendas -- Apple is in the commodity business of shifting units, be they Macs, iPods, or iTunes tracks.

AT&T are in the business of constantly selling services eg net access priced by the kilobyte, ringtones, and other forms of content bought over their network rather than downloaded onto a computer and then sideloaded onto a phone.

Jobs has seen which way the wind is blowing -- the next generation of Wi-Fi is WiMax, which has the potential to be available over long distances.

Expensive proprietary solutions from the mobile networks may be rendered obsolete by WiMax and associated technologies.

The iPod touch is Steve Jobs' subtle way of telling the mobile operators that their days are numbered -- the day will come when he doesn't need them anymore.

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Tracked And Sacked:
Man Fired Was Caught Out By GPS Phone
by Simon Magus

halpin.jpgA man has been fired after his absences from work were tracked using a GPS phone given to him by his employers -- who neglected to tell him that they could monitor his movements.

"This individual was getting paid for not working," said Margie Feinberg, spokersperson for New York's Department of Education and former employers of John Halpin.

Halpin had worked in New York schools for over 20 years, latterly as a supervisor overseeing carpenters.

His employers became suspicious about the timesheets that he was submitting and spent five months monitoring his movements using the GPS capability of his phone.

The data revealed that Halpin was frequently turning up to work two hours early -- but then leaving work two hours early as well.

A court hearing resulted in a recommendation that Halpin be dismissed for his misconduct.

He was damned by the fact that he falsified his timesheets, operating under the assumption that his chances of being found out were minimal.

Halpin's attempt to mount a defence on the basis that the GPS data was inaccurate as well as being an unethical approach failed to sway Judge Tynia Richard.

Judge Richard's decision called for his dismissal, stating that the Department of Eductation was under no obligation 'to notify its employees of all the methods it may possibly use to uncover their misconduct.'

New York has no legislation obliging employers to tell workers that they are being tracked -- Connecticut and Delaware are the only states in the US to have such a law.

Unions have stepped into the legislative void, negotiating with individual companies to prevent covert tracking.

One such deal has been formed between the Teamsters, a union of professional drivers, and the UPS delivery company.

UPS have agreed that GPS devices cannot be used to gather information that can then be used to dismiss employees.

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Child's Play:
Teenager Cracks Aussie Government's Anti-Porn Filter
by The Mullah

tomwood.jpgA 16-year-old has made a mockery of an AUS$84 million initiative by the Australian government to distribute anti-porn filtering software -- by managing to circumvent the software after half an hour.

"It's a horrible waste of money," said Tom, a student at a private school in Melbourne.

"They could get a much better filter for a few million dollars made here rather than paying overseas companies for an ineffective one."

The filtering software was distributed as part of the NetAlert programme launched by John Howard's right-wing goverment as part of their campaign against what they see as obscene content.

"Sadly, just as a seatbelt will never prevent every fatal car crash, as the government has always maintained, no filter is foolproof," responded Helen Coonan, Australia's Communications Minister.

Wood found that circumventing the software was a relatively trivial process.

"I downloaded it on Tuesday to see how good it was, because for AUS$84 million, I would have expected a pretty unbreakable filter," he said.

"Tried a few things, it took about half an hour and it was completely useless."

After Wood's exploits became public, a different filter was released for download -- it took him around half an hour to bypass it and render it useless.

He believes that even when anti-porn filters work, they don't offer a solution to the problems that net users face.

"Filters aren't addressing the bigger issues anyway," Wood said.

"Cyber bullying, educating children on how to protect themselves and their privacy are the first problems I'd fix.

"They really need to develop a youth-involved forum to discuss some of these problems and ideas for fixing them."

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iPhone Clone:
Chinese Pirates Rip-Off Apple
by The Mullah

meizu.jpgAt least two clones of Apple's iPhone have been sighted, the first of a wave of rip-offs coming from China.

Fakers have been getting sophisticated when creating knocked off versions of sought after phones.

When LG launched their iconic Chocolate phone in Korea, they found that Chinese cloners managed to create their own version that was 'exactly like the real one in design,' according to a company spokesperson.

"Chinese people think it's LG electronics that manufactures the fakes."

Now Apple are discovering that their sought after iPhone has become the latest target -- fuelled by the company's decision to only launch the product in America.

LG have changed their launch strategy and now bring new phones to market in China as quicky as possible, eliminating as much opportunity for cloners as possible.

In Apple's case, the iPhone will only be available in the US for at least a year before other countries will see it in use -- meaning large profits for those companies that produce cheaper knock offs.

The first fake iPhone, known as the P168, first emerged a few days before the official launch of the real thing -- it has also been seen on sale in China, although the manufacturer is keeping a low profile due to the the threat of legal action.

Another company producing a fake iPhone has allegedly been threatened with lawsuit by Apple in a Hong Kong court.

Meizu have announced their miniOne, which looks similar to the iPhone but has extra features not found in the original.

Some commentators have pointed out that some of these fakes are superior to the iPhone -- unlike the original, they come with removable batteries and are not locked to one specific mobile network.

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I'm In Ur Passport, Crashing Ur Scanner:
Hacked Passports Can Bring Down Airport Scanners
by Simon Magus

lukasgrunwald.jpgA German security researcher has hacked the microchip embedded in a passport and caused the scanning computer to crash -- paving the way for more serious exploits.

"If you're able to crash something you are most likely able to exploit it," said Lukas Grunwald, an adviser to the German parliament on e-passports.

Grunwald first cloned the embedded chip in the e-passport last year, making it trivial to create a duplicate of an existing document.

Now he has delved further into the actual data stored on the chip, finding flaws in the way that the e-passports have been implemented.

He found that the passport photo was stored digitally in the industry-standard JPEG2000 format -- used in digital cameras and on websites -- making it easier to recycle old methods of attack.

By employing a technique known as 'buffer overrun', he injected rogue data into the passport photo file.

At a security conference, he scanned the e-passport through two different makes of scanner and crashed them both.

It also emerged that the fingerprints of the passport holder are stored as a standard image file.

This would be enough to allow someone to theoretically create fake fingerprints from gelatine that could be placed on the fingers and fool the scanner.

Such a technique has already been demonstrated by Japanese security researchers.

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Worm Infested Apple:
Macs No Longer Invulnerable To Viruses
by Simon Magus

appleworm.jpgHackers have created viable computer viruses that can attack Macs -- despite claims that Apple's computers are far more secure than those running Windows.

At least three proof-of-concept viruses have been created by hackers as they stumble upon undocumented vulnerabilities in Mac OS X, Apple's rival to the Windows operating system.

The discoverer of the latest exploit harbours deep antipathy towards Apple's feelgood attitude around security.

“I do believe in being responsible and working with vendors, but I also feel that some vendors need to be treated like children and learn lessons the hard way," said Infosec Sellout.

“Apple has a very long way to go when dealing with security issues in their products.”

Although Apple has been diligent in patching holes in Mac OS X as they are found, the recent success of the company has brought so much attention that some of it has been of the unwelcome kind.

A series of bugs have been discovered by independent researchers affecting such key components as QuickTime, the video technology created by Apple.

Another factor causing this interest in Mac security may be the decision by the company's leader Steve Jobs to switch from using PowerPC chips to those made by Intel -- the same silicon used in rival Windows machines.

When Macs used PowerPC chips, the number of hackers able to manipulate the silcon at the most basic level would have been comfortably small.

But the switch to Intel means that a global army of budding virus writers familiar with their chips due to experience writing Windows viruses have a new hobby.

The key insight for the successful virus author is realising a strategy to fool a computer processor so that anti-virus software can't detect the malicious software they wish to deploy.

As it stands, these virii only exist 'in the lab' -- but a truly sophisticated piece of malware may already be out there in the wild.

In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, the first true Mac OS X virus could very well be one of those 'unknown unknowns.'

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Social Divide:
Facebook Users Are A Class Apart
by Simon Magus

facebook.jpgA study of Facebook and Myspace users in the US has revealed that your social status defines which site you end up using.

The six-month study show that Facebook users are more likely to come from wealthier homes than Myspace users.

Facebook users are also more likely to go to college that their Myspace counterparts.

"Social networks are strongly connected to geography, race, and religion; these are also huge factors in lifestyle divisions and thus 'class'," said Danah Boyd, the researcher behind the study.

Her research found that Facebook students were predominantly white and came from families keen for them to succeed.

"They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities."

Myspace users tend to come from families that weren't so keen on pushing their children to succeed.

She also found that Myspace users come more from non-white ethnic groups such as Latinos and Hispanics.

As opposed to Facebook, Myspace is a home to the marginalised.

"MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers."

Whilst Boyd was wary of drawing conclusions from her research, she did think that society was being represented online.

"This division is just another way in which technology is mirroring societal values.

"Teens are using social network sites to build community and connect with their peers.

"And through it, they are showcasing all of the good, bad, and ugly of today's teen life."

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The Italian Job:
Italian Web Sites Infected By Hack Attacks
by Simon Magus

caine.jpgThousands of Italian websites have been infected with viruses that seek out confidential financial information on user's computers.

Although sites from around the world were affected, the vast majority of infected computers were sited in Italy.

"We were referring to it as 'Italian Job 3,' in-house," said David Perry of security firm Trend Micro.

The compromised sites were mainly tourism sites with Italian domains ending in .it such as http://www.adriahotel.it, http://wwww.bestoftuscany.it and http://www.mothertheesacause.info.

"Do not go to these sites," said Perry.

Most of the infected Web sites are legal, Perry emphasised.

"These aren't porn sites, they aren't gambling sites; they are hotels, fish-and-tackle sites, tourist information," he said.

Surfers are only vulnerable if they are using older versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The spyware takes the information from your computer and sends it to a server located in Chicago, USA.

Even if the server is located and shut down, the spyware can be reprogrammed remotely to send it elsewhere.

"Your system belongs to them," Perry said.

"If Chicago is shut down, they could move anywhere in the world."

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Chinese Wall:
Popular Photo Sharing Site Blocked By Beijing
by Simon Magus

logo_home.pngPopular photo sharing site Flickr is being blocked by China's web censors -- allegedly due to photos from an environmental protest in the country being published on the site.

"It is our understanding that Flickr users in China are not able to see images on Flickr, and we have confirmed that this is not a technical issue on our end," a spokeswoman for parent company Yahoo Hong Kong said.

"It appears that the Chinese Government is restricting access to Flickr, although we have not received confirmation from them."

The Chinese Government have yet to make any comment about the matter.

Problems with the site begin after photographs of an environmental protest in Xiamen were uploaded to the site for public viewing.

Thousands of local residents were demanding the relocation of a toxic chemical plant, and had clashed with police at points.

Coverage of the protest movement was subject to the usual newspaper censorship.

It was China’s growing army of bloggers that ended up covering the event, complete with videos and pictures.

The protest evidently rattled the authorites as a suspension of work on the chemical project was ordered until an environmental impact assessment could be carried out.

Until the situation can be resolved, Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterworth has few words of comfort for frustrated users:

"We definitely haven't forgotten about you, but there is not much for us to announce publicly at this point.

"As soon as anything changes, will let you know.

"And we're all rooting for you!"

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No Fucking Way:
US Government Says No To 'Offensive' Trademarks
by Simon Magus

fuckyou.jpgThe US Government has turned down a trademark application for the website fuckingmachines.com, on the grounds that it is 'obscene' and 'scandalous'.

"Registration is refused because the proposed mark consists of or comprises immoral or scandalous matter," wrote Michael Engel, the lawyer reviewing the case for the US Government.

"The term ‘fucking’ is an offensive and vulgar reference to the act of sex. A mark that is deemed scandalous is not registrable.”

There have been 39 trademark attempts that included the word 'fuck', five that have 'fucking', and at least 50 with 'shit'.

None have been successful.

However 'bitch' is permissable and around 140 trademarks feature the word 'ass'.

Marc Randazza, the lawyer representing the parent company of fuckingmachines.com, has persuaded his client to appeal the decision on the grounds of free speech.

“This much maligned four-letter word has no intrinsic meaning,” Randazza wrote in a submission to the appeal court.

"Fuck can play a role as a figurative term, for example, ‘to fuck’ can also mean ‘to deceive.’ It is a word of force that can assist us in our expressions of joy when used as an infix, as in ‘abso-fucking-lutely’.

"‘Fuck’ helps us express rage when we scream ‘fuck you’ at a football referee, or at a motorist who has just cut us off in traffic.

"'Fuck' can help us express pain, as it is quite frequently the first thing out of most men’s mouths when they strike their thumb (accidentally) with a hammer.

"'Fuck' is a vehicle for our disappointment, when we see that our report card is not as good as we had hoped, or when our significant other is late for dinner, or leaves us altogether.

"'Fuck' is an old friend, who can always make us laugh."

Much of Randazza's argument rests on the fact that the law forbidding 'obscene' trademarks was formulated in 1905 and is thus outdated.

Also he points out that standards have changed over time as society's values shift.

He uses the example of how it is no longer possible to trademark the names of Native American tribes.

But for all his legal arguments, Randazza is not under any illusions about the prospects for success.

"I’m jousting at a windmill," he admits.

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Wherever I Lay My Hat:
Japanese Homeless Sheltering In Net Cafes & McDonald's
by Simon Magus

Poor workers in Japan are turning to all night net cafes and MacDonald's outlets as a source of inexpensive accomodation.

"Net cafes? Only the rich can afford them," said Koba, one of the new breed of 'McRefugees'.

"Even with a special night time deal, they still cost about 1,000 yen (£4) a night.

"So I sleep at McDonald's three or four nights a week.

"More McDonald's restaurants have started operating 24 hours since the spring and there are plenty of others like me who are sleeping there."

The infamous burger chain has helped spawn the nickname 'McRefugee' due to their popularity amongst thrifty homeless people.

"I sometimes stay overnight at family restaurants, but they have a late night surcharge," said Toba, a fan of McD's low prices.

"They do have the lure of an all-you-can-drink bar, but even that still costs more than 500 yen (£2).

"I only need to spend 100 yen (40p) at McDonald's and I can stay the whole night."

Economist Takuro Morinaga sees the McRefugees as trapped between the two worlds of being housed and being homeless.

"They're people who probably have a tad more money than those living on the streets, but not enough money to allow them to change their lives," he said.

"It costs about 400,000 yen (£1600) to 500,000 yen (£2000) to rent out an apartment, so people who can't afford to do that become net cafe refugees, sauna refugees and, now McRefugees.

"The vast majority of them are not full time staff and are probably only making about 1 million yen (£4000) a year at most.

"For these people, 500,000 yen is an enormous sum of money."

Morinaga is pessimistic about the prospects for the homeless in Japan.

"I think we'll see more of these types of people," he said.

"With society polarising the way it is now, I guess they'll be like Europe and the United States where all the same types of people gather together to form hamlets that eventually end up turning into slums."

Posted in: Net by bubblejam at 12:03 AM | Comments (1) | Email This Entry

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Good pickup on the trend. Picked up on your post through Google Blogsearch. It's the first time I've heard the term. Shows how much information bloggers bring to the front that wouldn't have gotten noticed. Kudos!

Posted by: JohnC at April 30, 2007 02:39 AM

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AI AI AI, Oh:
Computer Busted For Practicing Law Without A Licence
by Simon Magus

A court has found that the AI software behind a legal website was no mere clerical tool and was in essence practicing law without a licence.

The software ran on two websites maintained by Henry Ihejirika -- Ziinet.com and 700law.com -- which offered automated assistance for people going through bankruptcy proceedings.

Users would enter their personal information and other relevant details onto the website, and the AI would generate a complete set of bankruptcy forms -- including a fraudulent affidavit for users to sign claiming that they had done all the legal research on their own.

When a bankruptcy trustee noticed errors in forms submitted by Jayson Reynoso, he blamed the AI website and Ihejirika joined him in a federal court hearing.

The judge ruled that Ihejirika had committed fraudulent, unfair, or deceptive conduct through his computer program, and had effectively engaged in the unauthorised practice of law.

Ihejirika was fined, banned from offering the same service in the future, and ordered to give up the fees he'd collected from nine customers. He appealed but the appeal court upheld the ruling.

This represents a milestone in the history of computing -- the first, admittedly unlicensed, cyberlawyer. As AIs proliferate throughout the legal profession, regulators will have to find some way of dealing with a development that isn't going to just go away.

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Brand New Threat:
Virtual Terrorism Comes To Second Life
by Simon Magus

Second Life, the popular virtual world, has suffered its first terrorist action by the 'Second Life Liberation Army' (SLLA) who are calling for democratic decision-making in the online community.

Terrorists 'bombed' retail stores from famous brands such American Apparel and Reebok as part of a campaign to wrest control from Second Life's creators Linden Labs.

"The movement contends that univeral suffrage is a right that should be established within Second Life immediately," according to a manifesto published by SLLA. "As Linden Labs is functioning as an authoritarian government the only appropriate response is to fight."

Although the SLLA uses similar language to left-wing guerrillas, the remedy to their grievances is all too capitalistic.

"The SLLA's demands are simple: The establishment of basic 'rights' for Second Life Players. Having consulted widely we now believe the best vehicle for this is for Linden Labs to offer public shares in the company. We propose that each player is able to buy one share for a set-price."

Creative dissent is generally welcomed in Second Life as long as it doesn't interfere with the ability of other residents to enjoy the virtual world, according to Linden Labs.

Linden Labs stopped charging a tax on items created by residents after the Boston Tea Party was recreated in the virtual world about three years ago.

"We do the utmost to ensure the protection of creative expression, within certain bounds," said Catherine Smith, marketing director for Linden Labs.

"Ultimately, instances in which residents engage in simulated violence will have to be taken on a case-by-case basis."

According to Smith, Linden will temporarily ban users who are found to have harassed other users as a result of SLLA actions.

"We believe recent events involving SLLA protest lack malicious intent," Smith concluded. "Resident reaction to such attacks has been decidedly tongue-in-cheek."

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New World, Old Conflicts:
The First Anti-Racism Demo In Cyberspace?
by The Mullah

The French right-wing party Front National's recently opened office in the virtual world Second LIfe has been shut down by a concerted protest.

"We have acquired land next to the FN office," a spokesperson for the protestors announced, "and will be manning a protest there until FN go or are ejected. Wherever fascists are we will ensure they get no peace to corrupt and lie to decent people."

The announcement went on: "The whole idea of a 'race hate' group is in direct violation of Linden Lab's own Terms of Service, and if the rules are being read to say they aren’t in violation, then Lindens need to look at the rules again."

The protest began peacefully with protesters picketing the office with placards. But by the second day, protestors had begun deploying virtual weapons.

Members of the Front National responded in kind, leading to several days of colourful conflict between the two sides.

By the end of the protest, several sections of the office had been lost to sabotage or overload on the servers that host the game.

The Front National, possibly seeing the writing on the wall, disappeared without fanfare from that part of Second Life -- to be replaced by a casino that is reportedly doing a brisk trade.

But the Front National vow to return. "They're a bunch of losers," FN Officer Wolfram Hayek said about the protestors. "We're gonna tighten security and come back."

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Do No Evil:
Google Maps Used To Target Allied Forces In Iraq
by Simon Magus

Iraqi insurgents are using maps provided by Google to target their attacks on British forces in Iraq, according to the British Army.

Raids on homes of insurgents last week revealed printouts of Google satellite photographs of British bases. Written on the back of one set of photographs officers found one camp's precise longitude and latitude.

"This is evidence, as far as we are concerned, for planning terrorist attacks," an intelligence officer with the Royal Green Jackets battle group said. "Who would otherwise have Google Earth imagery of one of our bases?"

"We are concerned that they use them to plan attacks. We have never had proof that they have deliberately targeted any area of the camp using these images but presumably they are of great use to them.

"We believe they use Google Earth to identify the most vulnerable areas such as tents."

Google is one of many websites that buy aerial imagery, usually taken by aircraft but sometimes by satellite, from governments or mapping companies.

A spokesperson for Google said the information could be used for 'good and bad' and was available to the public in many forms. "Of course we are always ready to listen to governments' requests," he said.

"We have opened channels with the military in Iraq but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them. But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests."

Ironically, one of the company's guiding principles is 'You can make money without doing evil.'

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The Most Gullible Town in the UK?:
Oldham Residents Lose £13 Million To Scams
by Simon Magus

Residents of Oldham near Manchester lost £13m to marketing scams last year -- making it the most gullible town in the UK.

More than 1 in 10 people in the town of 11,000 were fooled into handing over money to premium rate phone lines, foreign lotteries and pyramid selling.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) claim that 6.5% of adults in the UK fall victim to marketing scams each year, meaning Oldham is nearly double the national average.

Oldham Council's Trading Standards Team released the figures in advance of new anti-fraud laws, which come into force on Monday 15th January.

Trading Standards Officers have taken action to tackle dozens of mass marketing scams operating in Oldham in the last year. One scam -- a bogus delivery and premium rate scam -- earned the perpetrators a £10,000 fine and an order to compensate all affected consumers.

Oldham's Head of Trading Standards Tony Allen said: "Developments of technology, such as the internet and cheap international calls mean that organised criminals and vulnerable consumers are in ever closer contact."

Research by the OFT reveals that over 30% of victims of scams will be scammed again within the following year. This is frequently the result of victims having their details sold on to other fraudsters.

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Frontier Law:
'Virtual' Property Tycoon Threatens Freedom of the Press
by The Mullah

The largest landowner in the online world Second Life has used legal action to force YouTube to remove video footage of her virtual avatar being attacked or 'griefed' by a horde of flying penises.

Anshe Chung -- or Ailin Graef as she is known in real life -- made headlines around the world when she became the first person to make US$1 million from a property portfolio consisting entirely of online land in the popular Second Life 3D world.

During an interview with online news source Cnet that took place inside the virtual world, unknown saboteurs introduced a rain of digital models of human penises. The attack forced her to move to another location and ultimately crashed the server used to host the interview.

Now Chung has turned to the DMCA law in the US to force websites such as YouTube to take down videos of the incident, citing infringement of copyright of her online avatar. She has also demanded that the video not be shown in countries where the DMCA is not valid.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story with a screenshot of the attack. Chung's husband emailed the newpaper to demand that it should take down the photograph because the newspaper was hosting an infringing image.

"I have to point out to you that you, most likely by accident, posted an image that contains artwork copyrighted by my wife Ailin Graef and by Anshe Chung Studios, Ltd. and without obtaining our permission to do so," Guntram Graef wrote to Sydney Morning Herald reporter Stephen Hutcheon email.

"The source of the image, a video posted on YouTube, has already been removed. We can not authorize the use of this image and the replication of the artwork and textures of the Anshe Chung avatar in this context."

The legal action has drawn ire from several quarters as it threatens the freedom of the press to report on incidents of public interest.

Jason Schultz of internet rights group EFF said "The analogy I would draw is if there was a car accident in downtown New York, and the driver happened to be wearing an Armani suit, and there was a photographer who took photos and published them. That photographer couldn't be sued by Armani. News is news. And fair use gives news reporters and others the right to report what they see and hear, even if it includes your copyrighted work."

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Taking The Vista:
New Version of Windows Riddled With Flaws
by The Mullah

Less than a month from launch, Windows Vista has several serious flaws that could compromise the security of your computer.

Security firm Determina have isolated a bug in the new Internet Explorer 7 (bundled with Vista) that allows viruses to be secretly installed on a user's computer if they visit a "booby-trapped site" while browsing the web.

Determina have also discovered a way to disable an office network's Exchange mail server by sending an infected email.

Meanwhile, an unknown Russian programmer has perfected a way to hack his user permissions on all Windows systems on a corporate network using a Vista exploit. This could give a hacker carte blanche to wreak devastation.

Finally, Trend Micro have located a hacker on a Japanese message board offering to sell information about a Vista security flaw for $50,000.

Last Friday, an executive from Microsoft stated that the company was 'closely monitoring' the vulnerability described by the Russian web site.

“Currently we have not observed any public exploitation or attack activity regarding this issue,” wrote Mike Reavey, operations manager of the Microsoft Security Response Center. “While I know this is a vulnerability that impacts Windows Vista, I still have every confidence that Windows Vista is our most secure platform to date.”

On Saturday, a spokesperson for Microsoft said the company was also investigating the reported browser flaw and that it was not aware of any attacks attempting to use the vulnerability.

Although Vista has been extensively tested, it is only now being exposed to the realistic challenge of the uncensored Internet in all it's gory glory.

“I don’t think people should become complacent,” said Nand Mulchandani, a vice president at Determina. “When vendors say a program has been completely rewritten, it doesn’t mean that it’s more secure from the get-go. My expectation is we will see a whole rash of Vista bugs show up in six months or a year.”

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Mal-Ware:
Cancelled TV Series Lives On As Online Game
by The Mullah

Joss Whedon's sci-fi series Firefly was cancelled by Fox after just 11 episodes. But the fans clamoured for more of the adventures of Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew of the spaceship Firefly. Fox are now swallowing their pride and have authorised a game studio called Multiverse to make a massively multiplayer online game (MMO).

"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."

Whedon made his reputation with series such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Fox no doubt saw him as a cash cow. But when Whedon delivered his concept for a futuristic space western where people swear in Mandarin, Fox executives failed to get it and canned the series before it had a chance to flourish.

Firefly refused to lie down and die however. The DVD set of the series sold like hot cakes -- spurring Universal to produce a movie based on the series called Serenity. Dark Horse have published a series of comics filling in the narrative gap between the end of the series and the start of the movie.

Fox have belatedly realised that there is gold in them thar hills after all. Which is why Multiverse have gained the rights to turn the Firefly universe into an online game, similar to Everquest or World of Warcraft.

"This all springs from the genius that is Joss Whedon," said Corey Bridges of Multiverse. "It's rewarding beyond words to be able to hopefully be a footnote in the history of Firefly."

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Using The Users:
BBC News Programme Created Entirely By The Public
by Simon Magus

BBCNews24.pngThe BBC's rolling news channel News 24 has recently launched a news programme based entirely on user-generated content, in the spirit of websites such as YouTube. Your News features stories, features and video that are proving to be popular with TV and internet audiences.

Kevin Bakhurst, controller of BBC News 24, said: "Your News will make use of the huge range of material being sent to the BBC by the public, some of which has already provided real newsgathering value.Your News will reflect the stories catching our audience's eye and talk to them directly about the issues they feel really matter."

The BBC News website already receives approximately 10,000 emails a day with story ideas, comments and pictures from the public. Following on from this, the show will contain weekly features that will look at news reports covering issues raised by members of the public and a section where reporters try to find answers to questions sent in to the BBC by the public. The programme will also have a weekly feature focusing on images sent into the BBC by the public.

CNN has already launched a user-generated content portal on its homepage, featuring video, audio and written reports of what is known in the US as 'citizen journalism'. Newpaper publisher Gannett have also recently reorganised their newsrooms across America to involve readers in the newsgathering process.

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Eyes Wide Shut:
School Bans Phones And Cameras After Compromising Video Released
by The Mullah

A Canadian teacher is on sick leave and his school has banned mobile phones and digital cameras. Why? Because cameraphone footage of him shouting at a student was posted on the YouTube website.

The original incident took place a month ago at École Secondaire Mont-Bleu in Quebec when one student provoked the teacher into yelling at her, while a classmate secretly videoed the confrontation. Both girls have now been suspended. After the video was posted on YouTube, the teacher was so embarrassed that he stayed home from work -- where he remains.

Even though students have been told that they will not be searched, " if they even see an earbud coming out of your shirt, they're going to take it away," said one student at the school.

In the wake of this incident, the teachers' union is trying to get mobile phones and digital cameras banned from all schools in western Quebec. Parents such as Mike Geisterfer do not agree with such measures: "What's going to happen when doors [are] closed?" he asked. "Are students going to be taken seriously when they have complaints?"

As it turns out, incidents similar to the one that just took place are common, as a quick search using the words "angry teacher" reveals on YouTube. One such event took place earlier this month at another school in Quebec. School officials called police after learning that students had posted a video of the enraged teacher on YouTube.

This incident comes in the same week that a high-profile scandal erupted over another YouTube video — Michael Richards, who played Kramer on the Seinfeld television show, was exposed in the midst of a racist tirade in a comedy club. It seems that nothing can be hidden from public gaze in the 21st century.

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Illegal Immigrant:
How a Morroccan computer virus brought down Homeland Security
by The Mullah

A computer virus originating in Morocco infected computers connecting the Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT border screening system last year, according to documents obtained by Wired, following a year long legal fight. The vector of tranmission? The infection first passed through the backbone network of the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau.

To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) response to the attack was totally ineffective. Instaead of protecting 1,300 US-VISIT workstations as a priority, it concentrated on patching desktop computers. To avoid public embarrassment, the DHS resisted efforts to release documents on the crash -- not out of concerns that sensitive information on its systems might be disclosed.

Moroccan Farid Essebar (aka Diabl0) was jailed for releasing the Zotob virus in September 2006. As well as the DHS, other victims of Zotob included CNN, ABC, the Financial Times and the New York Times. The Zotob worm used using a vulnerability in Windows 2000's Plug and Play service to attack vulnerable machines.

Microsoft released a patch for the bug on 9 August, but many organisations such as DHS failed to apply a patch before the worm was released on 13th August. The DHS delayed patching US-VISIT workstations over concerns that more testing was needed because of the amount of peripherals they supported. Instead they concentrated its efforts on patching desktop machines, despite reports about widespread infection of US-VISIT workstations.

The infection led to long queues at airports, as border controls processed entrants manually or, in some cases, using backup computers. It took more than a day to bring the problem under a semblance of control. One day after the outbreak flared up, 72 per cent of the workstations were patched. But if the update had been applied on workstations at the same time it was applied to desktop PCs - 17 August - widespread problems could have been avoided.

A spokeswoman for DHS refused to comment on the incident this week. ICE declined to speak on the virus' infiltration of its network, referring inquiries back to DHS.

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Gone phishing?

phishing.jpg
For anyone using internet regularly, “phishing” attacks are simply a nuissance, an annoying plague.
No one really believes any more in urgent missiles from his bank demanding confirmation of personal details but removal of these electronic pieces of human deception becomes a tiring routine.

Business or private users may receive daily up to five emails written to appear as if they have been sent by banks or other reputable organisations, with the intent of luring the recipient into revealing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details etc.

Typically, phishing attacks will direct the recipient to a web page designed to mimic a target organisation's own visual identity and to harvest the user's personal information, often leaving the victim unaware of the attack.
But the increase in sophistication of cyber attacks was underlined recently in ominous sign of days to come when three Florida banks have had identity-theft attacks, another name for phishing, launched from their own websites

"Attackers were able to hack servers run by the ISP that hosted three small banks' websites, reported Techworld. They then redirected traffic from the legitimate Web sites to a bogus server, designed to resemble the banking sites, according to Bob Breeden, special agent supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's computer crime centre.indentity crime.org.jpg
Users were then asked to enter credit card numbers, PINs and other types of sensitive information, he said.

"The bad guys have created a way to take away the safety of typing the address of your bank," said Breeden. "We have to address it now and say to people, 'Even if you do go to your online bank's website, you need to be very careful.'"...

"Instead of clicking on a bogus web link in an e-mail, the attack hit users who had entered the correct URL for the banks in question. According to Breeden, the affected banks are Premier Bank, Wakulla Bank, and Capital City Bank, all small regional banks based in Florida."

For advice on how to fight e-robbers back go here but it is rather lamentable; or if you want to report the "spoofing" try security news, but bearing in mind that these attacks never last very long it would only be beneficial to public at large. Afraid, we all will learn from your misfortunes.

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