Friday, October 10, 2003


Technology in court  

Week in review: Security breach | CNET News.com:

"A federal judge permanently barred Minnesota from applying traditional telephone rules to Vonage, a pioneer in technology that lets consumers bypass the traditional phone network by making voice calls over a broadband connection.
The ruling for now frees Vonage to sell its Internet phone service in Minnesota without obtaining a telephone operator's license or paying fees to support 911 services. More importantly, the order is the first to address the authority of a state to oversee so-called voice over Internet Protocol providers and could thus affect efforts by other states to regulate the Net telephony providers. "

Sometimes we win one...

Three scenarios for trustable computing platforms - TechRepublic  

Three scenarios for trustable computing platforms - TechRepublic: "at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in May 2003, Bill Gates committed Microsoft to integrating its Palladium secure computing technology into Longhorn, Microsoft's next desktop operating system (expected for release in early 2005). Intel is scheduled to ship its LeGrande technology, which provides hardware support for Palladium, by year-end 2004.

When Microsoft made Palladium public in 2002, a storm of controversy arose regarding strong content control being built into PCs. Microsoft since has changed the name of this technology to the mellifluous Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB). However, the content control controversy remains."

As seems the usual thing with Microsoft, there are good points and bad, from the viewpoint of the average consumer/ SOHO user. This is just another piece in the puzzle that is Longhorn. We already know that Microsoft is going to build in some kind of groupware platform, most probably into whatever replaces Outlook Express at that time.

Antispam apps from McAfee and Norton - CNET reviews  

Antispam apps from McAfee and Norton - CNET reviews: "Two spam assassins hit their target
Norton and McAfee have both released new antispam apps, and both programs do a great job of quashing unwanted e-mail. But they're not both created equal; find out which should be on your computer. "

Worth noting the test results...

Cable firms bet on broadband speed, not price | CNET News.com  

Cable firms bet on broadband speed, not price | CNET News.com: "Cable companies are betting raw speed will help them win the broadband race, but they may be backing the wrong horse."

Maybe 5 years ago, they would have been right. Not today. My own ISP just announced the same thing, but it hasn't made my day much brighter and certainly wouldn't stop me from ditching them for greener pastures if I could get a cheaper deal on the old speed. Yes, it's nice when you're downloading a 439 meg file, but that doesn't happen EVERY day.

'Snoopware' troubles privacy advocates  

'Snoopware' troubles privacy advocates: "'Snoopware' troubles privacy advocates
Earlier this year, Rick Eaton did something unusual in the world of high technology: He made his product weaker.
Eaton is the founder of a company, TrueActive, that makes a computer program that buyers can install on a target computer and monitor everything that the machine's user does on the PC.
Spying with software has been around for several years, but Eaton decided that one new feature in his program crossed a line between monitoring and snooping. That feature is called 'silent deploy,' which allows the buyer to place the program on someone else's computer secretly via e-mail, without having physical access to the machine. To Eaton, that constituted an invitation to install unethical and even illegal wiretaps. He made the change, he said, 'so we could live with ourselves.'"

This part is a clear example of a software author with ethics. I wish that more such authors would follow his lead. However, there is one paragraph in the story that bears emphasis:

"Anybody who routinely uses a computer that isn't their own ought to be thinking, 'Who's looking over my shoulder?' " said Ross Stapleton-Gray, a computer consultant who has worked for the University of California system.

I suspect that this is one thing that doesn't leap to our minds when we travel.

The Luxury All-Terrain Boondoggle  

The Luxury All-Terrain Boondoggle: "The Luxury All-Terrain Boondoggle

Published: October 10, 2003

Tax-bill writers in the Senate are trying to curtail a notorious 'business' write-off of tens of thousands of dollars on the cost of an oversized sports utility vehicle, a gilded loophole the affluent have been driving behemoth Hummers and Cadillacs and Lincolns through at taxpayers' expense.
It would probably astonish humbler motorists to know that the gas-guzzling roadrunners of excess that just blew past them on the Interstate are eased along the way by a law that was intended to help working farmers and other small-business owners afford light trucks. Under the tax law, this category was defined as vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or more, and people who need such trucks for their work could write off all or part of the cost as a business expense"

What can I say? Just another case of taking home the Porkbarrel...

Russian Official Cautions U.S. on Use of Central Asian Bases  

Russian Official Cautions U.S. on Use of Central Asian Bases: "Russian Official Cautions U.S. on Use of Central Asian Bases

Published: October 10, 2003

Associated Press
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, bottom left, with two of his counterparts, Linas Linkevicius of Lithuania, top left, and Ioan Mircea Pascu of Romania, top right. At bottom right is Peter Ricketts, Britain's NATO envoy. They attended a NATO meeting in Colorado yesterday.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Oct. 9 — Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov of Russia said Thursday that his government expected the American military to withdraw from bases in two former Soviet republics in Central Asia once the mission in Afghanistan was completed.
On a day spent reassuring NATO defense ministers that Russia seeks broader cooperation with the Atlantic alliance and has no plans to announce a policy of nuclear pre-emption, Mr. Ivanov also said Russia reserved the right to intervene militarily in former Soviet states if the human rights of ethnic Russians were violated."

Interesting. No-one with half a brain thinks that there's anything that what's left of the USSR can threaten anyone or anything. Makes me wonder exactly what their real motives are for airing this stuff.

Crystal Slows and Speeds Light  

MIT Technology Review, Friday, Oct. 10, 2003

Who says the speed of light can't change? Researchers have shown that it is possible to both slow and speed light as it travels through a certain type of crystal--a result that could be useful for communications, computing, and data storage. [Topics: Computers and Electronics, Optics and Photonics]

This is more than a little interesting. Increasing the speed of light??? Maybe the world hasn't gotten hold of this, yet, but it should have crowds screaming in the streets. After all, if ONE of the "physical constants" can be changed, then it throws every other "constant" into quote marks. Chaos is loose in the world. Just like Waldo in the Heinlein story, who finds out that "Nothing is certain!".

On a little more practical note, this has major implications for anything that moves digital data over fiber optic lines. That's a mighty LONG list, these days. Anything that can make light go faster...

Windows security update planned  

Windows security update planned: "Windows security update planned

Microsoft promises to beef up protection against hacking

By Ted Bridis

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 — Stung by criticism over lax software security, Microsoft Corp. disclosed plans Thursday to update its flagship Windows operating systems early in 2004 to make consumers less vulnerable to hackers.

MICROSOFT SAID the changes, announced by chief executive Steve Ballmer during a trade conference in New Orleans, will be offered free in the next “service pack” update to users of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 software, the company’s latest versions for consumers and businesses."

The rest of the article goes into some real detail on the kinds of things we're going to see in the upcoming service packs. One of the most interesting things I noted was a section that seemed to claim that they were going to patch Windows, or rewrite an entire section, to diminish the problem of buffer overrun.

The next section deals with simplifying the way that Microsoft distributes patches. They will also revamp the Windows Update site to do a better job of picking out patches for individual systems. That's not earthshaking news, but it mentions that "all other Microsoft products". That's long overdue. Trying to figure out what extra features and patches are installed in, for instance, MS Word, can be a full-time job.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


The Register  

The Register: "SCO can ditch its Benelux distie
By Jan Libbenga
Posted: 06/10/2003 at 16:50 GMT

SCO has won a court case against its Dutch distributor Dupaco. And it's got nothing to do with Linux.

SCO, the company now best-known for its crusade against IBM and other companies over Linux copyright issues, recently terminated its 18-year relationship with Dupaco, preferring a European franchise model. "

SCO seems to be walking around in a mighty big pair of shoes. They're certainly intent on stepping on as many toes as they can. Makes me wonder just what kind of idiot is at their helm. Either that or they are so sure of the outcome of their infringement lawsuits that they're betting the house on it.

News: Apple to launch iTunes for Windows  

News: Apple to launch iTunes for Windows: "Apple to launch iTunes for Windows

By Ina Fried
CNET News.com
October 9, 2003, 10:08 AM PT

Apple Computer is expected next week to expand its online music service to Windows-based computers.
The Mac maker has scheduled an event for next Thursday at San Francisco's Moscone West convention hall. 'The year's biggest music story is about to get even bigger,' Apple said in an invitation to journalists. "

Well, it'll be interesting. The whole music-download scene is one of the biggest newsmakers this fall. Now it remains to be seen what happens when these big players start to compete head-to-head.

Maybe the price per song will actually get to the point where normal people can afford them, even in today's depressed economy.

FCC issues cell-swapping guidelines | CNET News.com  

FCC issues cell-swapping guidelines | CNET News.com: "FCC issues cell-swapping guidelines
Last modified: October 7, 2003, 1:01 PM PDT
By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Telephone regulators issued a series of guidelines Tuesday to help cell phone carriers meet an upcoming deadline to let customers switch to rival companies but keep their old phone numbers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said carriers should let defecting customers keep their old number even if their account has an unpaid balance. The FCC also found 'no technical reason' why switching subscribers should have to wait longer than two-and-a-half hours before their old number is 'ported' to their new dialing plan."

'Bout time :)


OnBusiness: "Microsoft steps up viruses fight

October 9, 2003

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has outlined new initiatives in the company's security battle against computer hackers, following criticism after a series of viruses designed to attack flaws in the company's software.

At a Microsoft conference in New Orleans, Ballmer announced a range of new programmes and technology investments to be introduced in the coming months."

About time. This layered approach is, perhaps, the only way to go at this point. I use it. Everyone who has been around a while uses it. I can only hope that Longhorn will cut down on the number of layers needed. Notice I didn't say 'eliminate'. I don't think that any OS written by man can be bug- or exploitable feature-free. Let's say that the best we can do is hope that the ways of protecting your system will become easier.

sunspot.net - plugged in  

sunspot.net - plugged in: "Taking the digital hub to the next level
Apple could build its own Media Center PC, but should it?
By David Zeiler: The Mac Experience

Originally published Oct 9, 2003

The Mac Experience

Much of the consumer technology world was abuzz last week as Microsoft unveiled its Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 software, a fancy name for a version of Windows that enables a computer to serve as both PC and digital entertainment center.Supposedly the Media Center PC represents the long-awaited 'convergence' of PC technology with such traditional home entertainment center components as the TV and stereo.

While not introducing new technologies, the Media Center PC's primary selling point is that it combines existing technologies in a more user-friendly -- and thus consumer-friendly -- way."

Wait a minute! I thought that was the whole selling point behind the Apple systems in the first place.

Headlines Powered by Business Wire  

Headlines Powered by Business Wire: "October 09, 2003 10:30 AM US Eastern Timezone

Symantec Teams with Microsoft to Promote New Secure Computing Initiative

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 9, 2003--Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq:SYMC), the world leader in Internet security, today announced it is working with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) to educate home and business users on the need for secure computing. Symantec and Microsoft have agreed to develop a variety of educational and promotional programs that will inform users of the simple measures they can take to safeguard their computing experience.
'Now, more than ever, computer users need to take proper steps to protect themselves from online threats. As the world leader in Internet security, Symantec enthusiastically endorses Microsoft's new security initiatives. We continue to support Microsoft in its efforts to raise user awareness of Internet security risks, hacking dangers and privacy threats,' said Janice Chaffin, Chief Marketing Officer at Symantec. "

Phew! When I read that headline, I got nervous for a moment. Microsoft is quite capable of swallowing anything it wants to. It's got a $49 Billion dollar mouth. "Partnership" with Microsoft is often the first step in being eaten alive.

VeriSign Takes "Innovation" Debate to Washington - Computer Business Review  

VeriSign Takes "Innovation" Debate to Washington - Computer Business Review: "VeriSign Takes 'Innovation' Debate to Washington

By Kevin Murphy

Should VeriSign Inc be allowed to 'innovate' with the internet's infrastructure? Is its Site Finder 'innovation'? Or does it prevent future innovation? These were the key issues raised at a meeting of VeriSign and its critics yesterday in Washington DC.

The gathering was arranged by the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers' [Ed: ICANN] security and stability advisory committee (SECSAC), following the massive outcry that followed VeriSign's introduction of Site Finder on September 15."

If it turns out that VeriSign wins this war (and make no mistake- this is a major conflict), then there will be no limits and any of the TLD masters can do whatever they want. That is not good. You could wake up some morning to find all of the links on your website broken because of the actions of a TLD. Or, even worse, you might find that your customers and audience can't get to your site at all.

I've said it before: the Internet is no longer a simplistic playground to be changed around at wim. There are way too many billions of dollars riding on the Internet working in a stable and predictable manner to let some outfit try to make money from it by screwing with that setup. If we're lucky, VeriSign will fold and the government won't get involved in taking over the net. If there isn't some body that can enforce sensible rules, then one needs to be created. Not tomorrow, yesterday! That's the base of arguments, here.

Get E-mail and News with Outlook Express  

Get E-mail and News with Outlook Express: "Get E-mail and News with Outlook Express

Posted: August 26, 2003

Maximize your online communications with Outlook Express 6.0. Learning how to customize your preview pane, organize your contacts and email messages, and access your web based e-mail while on the go, saves you time. You can even join a newsgroup to gather and share information with others on a variety of topics from sports, to music, to photography."

When you stop yawning, take an actual look at this page. It's got what amount to a large set of tips and tricks for getting more out of Outlook Express. In a world that seems addicted to Outlook in any of its many flavors, it's good to know that Microsoft hasn't totally ignored the 'free' sibling.

Silicon Valley Biz Ink :: The voice of the valley economy  

Silicon Valley Biz Ink :: The voice of the valley economy: "New End-to-End Solution Will Utilize Today's Broadband Networks to Deliver a
Better TV Experience

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp.'s
(Nasdaq: MSFT) Microsoft TV Division today announced plans for the development
of a new Internet Protocol television (IPTV) delivery solution designed to
enable cable and telecommunications operators to more easily and efficiently
offer improved and next-generation TV services over existing broadband
networks. This new initiative will bring together state-of-the-art
technologies from Microsoft and other industry leaders into an integrated,
end-to-end solution that will support the full range of pay-TV services while
scaling to millions of TV subscribers."

Will this new venture gain any better acceptance than WebTV and WindowsTV did? I guess we'll have to wait and see what features and equipment requirements are before we can even guess.

Intuit to TurboTax users: We're sorry | CNET News.com  

Intuit to TurboTax users: We're sorry | CNET News.com: "Intuit to TurboTax users: We're sorry
Last modified: October 8, 2003, 5:11 PM PDT
By David Becker
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Financial software and services company Intuit has apologized for its recent experiments with antipiracy technology and is vowing not to repeat the experience.

In an open letter to customers, set to run as an ad Thursday in several major publications, the software maker acknowledges that its decision to add product activation last year to its TurboTax tax preparation software went awry. "

Let's hope that other software publishers take note. Product activation may be effective in combatting piracy, but it costs customers in the short run and in the long run, the pirates will always find a way around it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Steam age tech takes heat off chips | CNET News.com  

Steam age tech takes heat off chips | CNET News.com: "Steam age tech takes heat off chips
Last modified: October 8, 2003, 12:34 PM PDT
By Rupert Goodwins
Special to CNET News.com

One of the key discoveries in steam engine technology was that multiple small pipes in the boiler extracted heat far more efficiently than a single pipe.
Now, Mountain View, Calif.-based Cooligy is applying a similar idea to cooling high-performance chips, and a quadrupling in heat-shifting performance is promised.
Cooligy is aiming its Active Micro-Channel Cooling system squarely at the next generation of high-speed processors. The company claims that the system, announced Tuesday, gives a maximum heat-removal capacity of 1,000 watts per square centimeter, compared with the existing limit of about 250 watts for passive systems. "

Here's a 'hot' story :). Any advance in chip cooling is BIG news! Read the whole story, it's worth the time.

Forbes.com: ScanSoft rises on a deal with Microsoft  

Forbes.com: ScanSoft rises on a deal with Microsoft: "ScanSoft rises on a deal with Microsoft
Reuters, 10.08.03, 10:44 AM ET

NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Shares of ScanSoft Inc. (nasdaq: SSFT - news - people) rose as much as 17 percent on Wednesday after it said it has teamed up with Microsoft Corp. (nasdaq: SSFT - news - people) to convert documents into a new Microsoft documents standard.

ScanSoft, whose OmniForm software helps convert paper documents into digital files, said the two companies are developing a simplified way to migrate existing Microsoft Word, paper and PDF forms to Microsoft InfoPath.

InfoPath is based on the so called XML standard that aims to make forms more easily searched

Boy! Microsoft is just picking all kinds of fights, hmm? Now they want to take on Adobe and the PDF.

Silicon Valley  

Silicon Valley: "VeriSign responds with arrogance to Site Finder critics
By Dan Gillmor
Mercury News Technology Columnist

News and views, culled and edited from my online eJournal (www.dangillmor.com/blog):
VeriSign's bad attitude: Domain-name giant VeriSign, which controls the ``.com'' and ``.net'' databases, has infuriated some of the Internet's most savvy technologists for a unilateral change to a key part of the Net. The Mountain View company's response, with one exception, has been as arrogant as its initial action."

This shouldn't take anyone who has ever had dealings with VeriSign by surprize. I've found that their attitude has been 'if you don't like it, then go somewhere else'.

ITworld.com - Microsoft wins patent for IM feature  

ITworld.com - Microsoft wins patent for IM feature: "Microsoft wins patent for IM feature
IDG News Service 10/8/03

Scarlet Pruitt, IDG News Service, London Bureau
Microsoft Corp. has been awarded a patent for a feature in IM (instant messaging) that alerts a user when the person they are communicating with is inputting a message. The feature is present in IM services from both Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc. (AOL)."

Well, well,well. Is Microsoft the next 'SCO'? Will we see them try to kick Yahoo and AOL, not to mention ICQ and others, out of the IM business? We;ll see. I know that they'd love to do it. But I doubt if we'd see mass carnage. It's more like they'd welcome the chance to one-up the others and gather even more cash for the big push to Longhorn. People who aren't all that computer literate may not understand what a huge effort Longhorn has to be for Microsoft. Especially if they can make it what is called 'virgin code'. That means code that doesn't have any contamination by code from any other product. I'll do a real wrap-up article on what we know and what we guess about Longhorn after the MS PD Conference at the end of the month. That's when they'll open the Longhorn center at MSDN and I'll get a look at the big picture then.

Court's call: Hands off VoIP | CNET News.com  

Court's call: Hands off VoIP | CNET News.com: "Court's call: Hands off VoIP
Last modified: October 8, 2003, 4:00 AM PDT
By Ben Charny and Evan Hansen
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Internet phone providers have won the first round in a clash with state regulators, providing needed momentum for the upstart industry.
In ruling from the bench late Tuesday, Minneapolis, Minn., federal Judge Michael J. Davis permanently barred Minnesota from applying traditional telephone rules to Vonage, a pioneer in technology that lets consumers bypass the traditional phone network by making voice calls over a broadband connection. A written order explaining the court's rationale is expected by Friday, according to the Minneapolis court clerk's office."

Well, it's encouraging, but that's all. There's a long road ahead for VoIP, as for any new technolgy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Rambus to continue royalty quest after ruling | CNET News.com  

Rambus to continue royalty quest after ruling | CNET News.com: "Rambus to continue royalty quest after ruling
Last modified: October 6, 2003, 2:52 PM PDT
By Dawn Kawamoto
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Infineon Technologies' appeal against memory chip maker Rambus, clearing the way for Rambus to prove that memory makers are violating its patents.
With the ruling, Rambus will now go back to trial court to try to demonstrate that its intellectual property is being infringed in memory chips made by Infineon. The industry is watching the case closely because it will have a large impact on similar suits Rambus has filed against other memory makers, such as Hynix and Micron Technology, and could lead to billions of dollars in royalty payments.
The Supreme Court's decision to opt out of hearing the case also effectively kills Infineon's fraud claims against Rambus.
'It's not over until the fat lady sings, and today, the fat lady sang,' Rambus general counsel John Danforth said. "

I almost ignored this story. Then I read it closely and decided that it was going to make me lose sleep and have nightmares. Of course the real nightmare would start if Rambus should win. In that case, memory prices around the globe would set new highs. It appears to be a massive money suit by Rambus and the other memory makers would have to pass that on to their customers. It mentions in a later part of the story that Rambus joined a standards coalition and influenced RAM designs that it knew it had patents on. That's real close to what they call entrapment, on the street. If that's true, then I hope the court kicks their behinds all the way back to California. AND fines them some big bucks.

CNN.com - VeriSign shuts down Web site finder - Oct. 3, 2003  

CNN.com - VeriSign shuts down Web site finder - Oct. 3, 2003: "VeriSign shuts down Web site finder
Friday, October 3, 2003 Posted: 5:08 PM EDT (2108 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- Web address provider VeriSign Inc. said on Friday it would suspend a controversial new service that steers mistaken Web searches to its own page after the organization that oversees Internet policies demanded it do so.
Earlier on Friday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers issued a statement insisting that VeriSign halt its SiteFinder service and restore the '.com' and '.net' Web domains to the way they were before Sept. 15, when VeriSign began the service.
ICANN gave VeriSign until 6 p.m. PDT to comply with the request or face sanctions for violating its contract with ICANN. "

Well, it's not like ICANN was going to let them keep playing the web their own way. I don't think I'd have waited this long, if I was ICANN, to slam the door on them.

Microsoft drops LookSmart search tool | CNET News.com  

Microsoft drops LookSmart search tool | CNET News.com: "Microsoft drops LookSmart search tool
Last modified: October 6, 2003, 4:40 PM PDT
By Jim Hu
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Microsoft will not renew a contract to use LookSmart's Web search results on its MSN site, the search technology provider announced Monday. "

"The dropping of LookSmart comes as Microsoft sets its sights on the Web search niche, both for its potential revenue and future tie-ins with the Windows operating system. In July, Microsoft quietly launched a software program called MSNBot, which scours the Web to collect links and organizes them into a search directory. Executives at the Redmond, Wash.-based company have indicated a desire to create their own search engine to compete with industry leader Google."


"AOL expands Google search pact
Last modified: October 7, 2003, 10:35 AM PDT
By Matt Hines
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

America Online extended its relationship with Google on Tuesday, reiterating its commitment to use the company for algorithmic and paid search results.

The companies extended their agreement, first signed in April 2002, for an unspecified number of years. In 2002, Google replaced Overture Services, currently in the process of being acquired by rival Yahoo, as the exclusive provider of paid links on AOL's search pages. Under the companies' current arrangement, Google pays AOL every time someone clicks on one of its sponsored links and lets advertisers bid for the AOL search result placements for specific keywords users enter."

Given this, it's pretty plain to see that a major war is about to take place in the online search field. It should be interesting, to say the least. Microsoft has a LOT of ground to make up. I don't think anyone above the level of total newbie will say that Microsoft has the best search facilities.

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Microsoft to make changes in Windows, Explorer over patent dispute  

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Microsoft to make changes in Windows, Explorer over patent dispute: "Microsoft to make changes in Windows, Explorer over patent dispute

Microsoft to make changes in Windows, Explorer
LOS ANGELES — Microsoft said it will make modest changes to its Windows operating system and Internet Explorer browser because of a patent violation.
The move, which had been expected, is a response to an August verdict that Microsoft violated a patent held by Eolas Technologies. Microsoft intends to appeal the ruling once it's been made final, spokesman Mark Murray said. "

Actually, there are a number of interesting items on this page, but I thought this one should get top billing, as they did.

Court Rules F.C.C. Erred in Decision on Net Access  

Court Rules F.C.C. Erred in Decision on Net Access: "Court Rules F.C.C. Erred in Decision on Net Access

Published: October 7, 2003

AN FRANCISCO, Oct. 6 — In a setback for the Federal Communications Commission, a federal court issued a ruling on Monday that may force cable companies to share their high-speed Internet, or broadband, networks with competing Internet service providers.
The decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, found that the F.C.C. erred in an earlier ruling that effectively absolved cable companies of any obligation to make their lines accessible to competitors."

Well, one in the W column for consumers, for a change. Don't know if it would make a lot of difference around here, as the local cable company gives as good a customer service as possible. And that's well above the level of any other Internet access outfit that I've ever come across. Any company trying to horn in on this market will face an uphill battle to do better than that.

Monday, October 06, 2003


Record close asteroid pass reported  

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Astronomers say a medium-sized asteroid passed just 55,000 miles from Earth on Saturday, Sept. 27 -- the closest approach of a natural object ever recorded. New Scientist magazine said the asteroid, about the size of a small house, came from inside the Earth's orbit and was only spotted after it had passed Earth. The first sighting, occurring Sunday, Sept. 28, was reported by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search program. Astronomers said the asteroid's 1.85-year orbit is quite eccentric, indicating it cannot be a man-made object. Scientists said the asteroid, measuring approximately 33 feet in diameter, would have been too small to pose a danger to Earth, although it would have created a spectacular fireball had it entered our atmosphere. The previous record for closest approach of an asteroid -- 67,000 miles -- was set in 1994. But New Scientist magazine said an asteroid measuring about 260 feet in diameter made the third-closest approach -- at 75,000 miles -- last year. If it had entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would have devastated more than a thousand square miles of land.

Exactly how many close shaves does it take before SOMEone realizes that we're in danger, each and every day? 'Only' 33 feet in diameter. Probably weighs a mere 20-30 tons. Hardly enough to make a dent in the mantle. Just don't be standing on the big red X when it hits...

Judge awards $10 million to Symantec - 2003-10-06 - Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal  

Judge awards $10 million to Symantec - 2003-10-06 - Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: "Judge awards $10 million to Symantec
A U.S. District Court in Oregon has awarded Cupertino-based security software maker Symantec Corp. $10 million to be paid by CD Micro Inc. and its chief executive officer, Vincent Webb, Symantec says.

The award follows a summary judgment handed down in July in a suit Symantec brought for infringement of its trademarks and copyrights. The Cupertino company accused CD Micro of pirating its software.
Symantec says it got wind of the problem when it was spammed by CD Micro offering Symantec products at grossly reduced prices. "

Know all that spam about System Works and Itnernet Security? You probably won't see quite as much for a while...

Silicon Valley Biz Ink :: The voice of the valley economy  

Silicon Valley Biz Ink :: The voice of the valley economy: "Online Yellow Pages of Northern Sky is Built on Microsoft Technology
< back

Microsoft Servers and .NET Technologies Provide Foundation for Major Online
Astronomical Data Library

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Professional and amateur
astronomers alike will soon be able to access one of the Web's largest
catalogs of astronomical images and information -- a landmark scientific
resource that was built with Microsoft(R) technology.

This month the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) SkyServer
( http://skyserver.sdss.org/ ) will release a new set of data, offering
public access and advanced tools for searching and manipulating images of more
than 80 million stars and galaxies -- four times as many objects as there are
books in the Library of Congress."

Well, I almost overlooked this item as 'just another brag by Microsoft', which, while true, is not the whole story, here. Put simply, it's just an item that makes you say Wow. Things like this are without the need to justify their existence. Just go take a look. Try not to spend too many hours digging through the nearly 1 Terabyte of data online. Advantages over trying to find a large telescope iin your neighborhood are the ability to ignore the weather and not )depending on the season) freezing your butt off.

Headlines Powered by Business Wire  

Headlines Powered by Business Wire: "Symantec Offers Webcast Highlighting Findings of Latest Internet Security Threat Report

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 6, 2003--Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq:SYMC), the world leader in Internet security, today announced that it will host a Webcast highlighting findings of its most recent Internet Security Threat Report. This report is one of the most comprehensive sources of Internet threat data in the world. The Webcast will be held Thursday, October 9 at 11 a.m. PT. Attendees can register at http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com/content/webcastinfo.cfm?webcastid=68 (Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser's URL address field.).
Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report, issued on October 1, includes analysis of data from Symantec Managed Security Services customers as well as more than 20,000 DeepSight Threat Management System registered sensors worldwide monitoring attack activity in more than 180 countries. The report covers network-based attacks, a review of vulnerabilities discovered and exploited, and highlights of malicious code trends. "

Hey, this might be a good thing to catch, if you can. Some of the excerpted conclusions and statistics were pretty eye-opening. Do you think the gentleman who got fired for publishing a security report critical of Microsoft might have a future at Symantec?

An argument for outsourcing | CNET News.com  

An argument for outsourcing | CNET News.com: "An argument for outsourcing
October 6, 2003, 4:00 AM PT
By Gordon Brooks

We've all heard about technology outsourcing, or 'offshoring,' as some have started to call it. It's been one of the biggest technology topics this summer.
The image the term immediately brings to some minds is of information technology workers being laid off. That's where most thoughts about outsourcing begin and end--with the idea of it being all about U.S. jobs versus foreign jobs. But there is much more to it than that. This becomes visible as you take a step back and look at the larger issues.
Of course, it's tough to tell people who have just lost their jobs to 'take a step back' and look at the situation from the macroeconomic level. Layoffs are never easy for anyone.
However, it is also a mistake for a government to place limits on outsourcing or ban it. Sure, by limiting outsourcing, you may protect some jobs in the short term, but that would end up doing more harm than good. "

I'm still having a hard time dealing with this item. It's that full of crap.

AND, it made me so angry with CNET.Com for running it in their 'Perpsective' section of the newsletter. Perspective is sometimes defined as "The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance". This is obviously NOT the definition pursued by CNET in presenting the above-mentioned article by Mr. Gordon Brooks of E5 Systems (of Waltham, MA).

I suppose that one could argue that it's more like "Subjective evaluation of relative significance", since Mr. Brooks seems bent on telling the thousands of American support personnel who have lost their jobs due to off-shoring that they'll all have better, higher-paying jobs "eventually". Isn't that sweet? Mr. Brooks thinks that the fact that these jobs have disappeared off-shore will make better jobs happen here. Huh? That's like saying to the victims of a brakin "Don't worry, the fact that your belongings have disappeared will make better ones show up, eventually.". I'm sure that such drivel is as much consolation to those suffering the immediate loss (in today's high-unemployment economy) as Mr. Brooks sugary assertions are to the unemployed workers.

The onlt thing that keeps the whole article in 'perspective' is the FACT that E5 Systems is NOT a company "application provider that has software manufacturing centers in the United States, China and India", as published by CNET. No, instead, it's a company devoted to, and making money from, off-shoring American jobs to sweat shops in India and China.

In my book, that makes Mr. Brooks a self-serving s.o.b. who has dedicated his life to making it possible for American firms to drop their relatively expensive American workers for cheap off-shore labor. I'm sure he would have felt right at home in the Reagan administration, explaining Trickle-Down Economics to the poor saps who lost jobs by the hundreds of thousands under Mr. Reagan's "leadership". Sorry, Mr. Reagan. I realize that you're no longer able to refute this argument personally, but, having lived throught it, I can tell a fact from a wish any day of the week and twice on what used to be my payday.

I might have let this whole opinion-disguised-as-an-article go with a few well-chosen words, if not for the totally clueless way that it was published by CNET in a "newsletter". Frankly, I doubt very much if anyone with an IQ over that of an icecube would call this article 'news'.

Diller wants Google real estate | CNET News.com  

Diller wants Google real estate | CNET News.com: "Diller wants Google real estate
Last modified: October 3, 2003, 4:45 PM PDT
By Stefanie Olsen
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

As InterActiveCorp's Barry Diller builds a digital empire of consumer services, he's looking for a little help from online search giant Google.
During this week's Goldman Sachs conference in New York, Diller said InterActiveCorp aims to partner with every major Internet operator for its various services, which include personals site Match.com; the CitySearch family of local guides; travel services Expedia, Hotwire and Hotels.com; and mortgage-referral service LendingTree. InterActiveCorp already works with Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo to drive traffic to some of these Web properties. But now, it wants help from Google, one of the most popular destinations on the Web for finding information.
'Google and our companies are in continuing conversation about different ways we could maybe join in participation in--local search, things like that,' Diller said during a speech at the conference Tuesday. "

Ah! Now I understand! I wrote a little comment to Google a weekago or so about how it was a shame that 'Location Search' in Froogle didn't interact with truly local info. Their return was that they were aware of the lack and were 'working on it'.

VoIP phone maker plans a cell hybrid | CNET News.com  

VoIP phone maker plans a cell hybrid | CNET News.com: "VoIP phone maker plans a cell hybrid
Last modified: October 3, 2003, 2:44 PM PDT
By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Mitel Networks is developing a voice-over-Internet Protocol phone console that works with cell phones, another sign of how these two communications devices are beginning to merge into one.
While inside a building, the phones use an office's voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) network. Once outside, though, they switch over to a cell phone network, Mitel Chief Operating Officer Paul Butcher said this week."

This is the first step. Next comes a phone that will connect for VoIP either inside a building or, using the cell-provider's data capability, to VoIP anywhere cell phone wireless web is available. Tie that in with some kind of cell phone/PDA hybrid and you have pretty near seamless data and voice access.

Sunday, October 05, 2003


GM vs Microsoft - The Economic Times  

GM vs Microsoft - The Economic Times: "GM vs Microsoft

[ SUNDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2003 09:41:16 AM ]
At a recent computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: 'If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.'
In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating (by Mr Welch himself): If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:"

This little article deserves a read, especially since it involves a little cat-fight amongst CEO's of some fairly well-known companies...

The Salt Lake Tribune -- From software to scrapbooks  

The Salt Lake Tribune -- From software to scrapbooks: "From software to scrapbooks

By Lisa Carricaburu

The $150 million acquisition of one of Utah's high-tech triumphs will have a decidedly low-tech beneficiary: the state's scrapbooking industry.
Some proceeds from the Sept. 23 sale of Orem-based PowerQuest Corp. to Symantec Corp. will help finance Utah County's QuicKuts.
As it turns out, the creative mind behind the hard-drive management software around which PowerQuest was built has shifted his attention to hardware.
Eric Ruff, who founded PowerQuest from home in 1993, now heads Orem-based QuicKuts, a maker of a handheld die-cutting tool used by scrapbookers to enhance page designs with images ranging from haunted houses to hamburgers. "

A little human-interest (you remember human, right?) sidelight on the recent 'demise' of PowerQuest...

Star Telegram | 10/05/2003 | Microsoft looks to turn over new leaf  

Star Telegram | 10/05/2003 | Microsoft looks to turn over new leaf: "Posted on Sun, Oct. 05, 2003

Microsoft looks to turn over new leaf
By Jonathan Krim
The Washington Post


For millions of consumers at home and at work, using a computer means using Microsoft.
Its Windows operating system powers more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers. Its programs for Internet surfing, word processing and spreadsheet calculations barely have competition. It is aggressively pushing into online gaming, entertainment and corporate systems.
So why is Chief Executive Steve Ballmer demanding that his troops rethink everything?"

This is an interesting op-ed piece on the 'new Microsoft attitude'. Whether or not Ballmer is successful is still up in the air, but I will admit to having seen a shift in their customer support attitudes. The 'usual' now is that they will tear away at your problems like a puppy with a new bone. It may take them a while, and all problems may not be solvable, but they seem willing to do whatever it takes to fix things. That, in itself, is close to a miracle.

Bison Burgers, for Humanity's Sake  

Bison Burgers, for Humanity's Sake: "Bison Burgers, for Humanity's Sake

Published: October 5, 2003

Frank Mullen
Ted Turner at Ted's Montana Grill in Peachtree City, Ga. He is trying to make bison burgers as popular as Big Macs.

THREE years ago, Ted Turner's effort to restore the country's bison herds was such a success that it created a problem: a glut of bison meat. So Mr. Turner has started a restaurant chain, Ted's Montana Grill, where he is turning bison into burgers and, in the process, hoping to build what he calls 'another great fortune.''
With little fanfare, Mr. Turner opened the first of the restaurants in 2002 and now has 11 of them in the South and West, five in this city alone."

Whatever else he might be, Ted Turner is very far from stupid. This move is not only good for his bankroll, but good for the public, as well. It's been known for a long time that bison meat (buffalo) is easier on the human body than the equivalent beef.

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