|Friday, 27 February 2004, 3:17 pm
Apple discontinued the Newton on this day in 1998.
- Microsoft is planning an update to XP before Longhorn – the next version of Windows – ships sometime later in this century. The company wouldn’t say when Windows XP – Reloaded (no kidding, that’s what they’re calling it) will ship or even if it will be a Service Pack or full update. Service Pack 2 is in beta now and should ship soon. No word whether Microsoft plans a Windows XP – Revolutions.
- Bill Gates is once again the world’s richest man worth $46 billion, according to Forbes’ 18th annual Billionaires List. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have joined the list this year, along with Harry Potter author, JK Rowling. Paul Allen, our fearless leader, has dropped one position to #5 with a scant $21 billion.
- IBM has won in a lawsuit filed by two former employees who claimed that poor conditions at IBM’s Almaden, California disk drive plant caused their cancers.
- Verisign, the primary US domain server, is suing ICANN, the official domain oversight body, over delaying SiteFinder, Verisign’s crass attempt to offer a commercial search page in response to failed lookups. Verisign’s lawyer called ICANNs attempts to regulate Verisign “brazen,” giving a whole new meaning to the word.
- Sendmail has announced it will support both Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s email authentication schemes, paving the way for universal email authentication, one of the most important steps toward eliminating spam.
- According to Sophos, the US generates nearly 60% of all spam worldwide. Second-place Canada generates a mere 7%. The spam doesn’t necessarily originate from the US, in fact much of it comes from Russia, but it’s being sent from US computers, often without the knowledge of the computers’ owners thanks to widespread trojan infections.
- According to Wall St. Journal, the US Department of Justice is preparing a price fixing case against the major memory manufacturers. Samsung, Hynix, Micron, Infineon and others will be accused of artificially pumping up RAM prices in late 2001 and 2002.
- The Register says a hi-def DVD recordable spec has been approved by the DVD Forum, paving the way for recordable HDTV discs using blue lasers. The DVD Forum isn’t talking. The blue laser discs hold 20 GB per side.
|Thursday, 26 February 2004, 4:07 pm
Clear Channel has dropped Infinity’s Howard Stern Show.
Hitler introduces Ferdinand Porsche’s Volkswagen on this day in 1936. The first Beatles CDs were released in 1987. Happy 50th birthday Michael Bolton.
- According to Microsoft, hackers wait for the patches before they try to exploit holes in Windows. According to David Aucsmith, from Microsoft’s security business and technology unit, hackers reverse engineer Microsoft’s patches to figure out how to hack the system. Um yeah. That’s much easier than using the sample exploit code provided by security experts. Aucsmith said he could only think of one instance when a vulnerability was exploited before a patch was available. Bottom line: if you patch as soon as Microsoft offers the update you’ll be safe. Does this seem a little self-serving to you?
- We’re learning more and more about XP Service Pack 2 and it sounds like Microsoft is making a serious upgrade to its security model. SP-2 will work with the hardware anti-virus protection built into AMD’s 64-bit procs. The chip prevents code from being executed from certain parts of memory – reducing the risk of buffer overflow attacks. 64-bit Linux will support it too. Looks like another reason to go 64-bit.
- Slashdot says that the Japanese government has raided Microsoft’s offices in Tokyo investigating monopolistic practices.
- China is cracking down on Internet discussion groups. A new rule says the Chines government must approve all postings. Before posting, users are warned “you have not registered. If you want to say anything, you must use your real name, your real ID and your real telephone number.” Ongoing threads have been deleted and many other pages have just disappeared from the net.
- Wireless Intenet Service Providers (WISPs) SkyPipeline and NextWeb have merged, forming one of the biggest WISPs in the nation. The combined companies cover much of LA, among other areas.
- Sony’s portable Playstation, the PSP, won’t ship to North America until early 2005 – missing the critical holiday shopping season and leaving an opening for rival Nintendo’s dual-screen Gameboy. Sony wants to wait for content.
- Meanwhile there’s speculation that the next Xbox won’t have a hard drive. M-Systems says it has signed a deal with Microsoft to make solid-state flash memory for Xbox. Dropping the hard drive saves money for Microsoft and makes the machine harder to hack.
- Apple and The Beatles are in court in Britain again over the use of the Apple name. After reaching agreement in 1991, the peace was breached by Apple’s foray into selling music with the iTunes Music Store. Apple Computer wants to take the case back to California.
- The EFF has proposed a $5/month fee tacked on to all Internet service to pay for music. The music industry is skeptical. Mitch Glazer of the RIAA says it amounts to a compulsory license, which would require the Federal government to implement. He says that the private music stores are working and that government should stay out. EFF says it’s no different than existing ASCAP/BMI licensing.
- “Professor iPod” Michael Bull, a lecturer at the University of Sussex England, says that personal stereos are “a great urban strategy for controlling interaction.” Not to mention adding a soundtrack to your life. Interesting interview in Wired Magazine. Who’s scoring your life? Bobby McFerrin, Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock?
|Wednesday, 25 February 2004, 3:32 pm
Here’s your tech news, served piping hot.
The 16th amendment was ratified on this day in 1913, paving the way for the Federal income tax. To add insult to injury, Oregon instituted the first gas tax on this day six years later. The first TV license was granted in 1928.
- Bill Gates, speaking at the RSA conference yesterday, said Microsoft is implementing a new system to block spam with a proprietary “caller ID” type system. The company is already using it in Hotmail.
- SecurID creator RSA Security has announced an RFID blocker just in the nick of time. Many companies are planning to include tiny RFID chips in their products to track consumer usage.
- Other news from the RSA conference: security experts say patching doesn’t work. More RSA news tonight on The Screen Savers.
- A new variant of MyDoom attacks Microsoft and the RIAA, but more importantly, it deletes random files. It’s been a while since we’ve seen overtly destructive viruses. Update your anti-virus and don’t open unexpected attachments.
- Meanwhile, there’s a new ICQ worm that targets financial information. The Bizex worm collects financial transactions and information about accounts then transfers them to the hacker’s computer. Beware of clicking on links in any Instant Messenger product unless you know they’re safe.
- The FCC is preaching hands off, but now Sen. Lamar Alexander is pushing to pass a bill to legalize state taxation of Internet telephony. “(VOIP) is a wonderful innovation coming down the track like a speeding freight train,” Alexander said. “I am here today to help make sure that our state and local governments aren’t tied to the tracks ahead of this train.” Woo woo.
- The National Academy of Engineering’s Draper Prize (worth half a million bucks) has been awarded to the four Xerox PARC scientists who created the Alto: Robert Taylor, Alan Kay, Butler Lampson and Charles Thacker. These four pioneers invented computer networking, the mouse, the GUI, cut and paste, and object oriented programming. Nice work.
|Tuesday, 24 February 2004, 3:08 pm
Bill Gates kicks off the RSA security conference today in San Francisco.
The Ents destroyed Isengard on this day – Saruman has been flung down! Honus Wagner was born in 1874.
- 321 Studios has pledged to continue selling DVDXCopy – they’ll just take out the offending DVD decryption portion and let you download it from the net yourself. Company president, Robert Moore, said the court order is “a hollow victory” for the movie studios. Russell Frackman, attorney for the MPAA, opined that the judge would frown on such a strategy: “You can’t sell the product with a wink and a nod and then tell your users, ‘What you need to do is get the ripper component … from another source.’ The law generally does not permit one to do indirectly what they can’t do directly.”
- Interesting article on News.com about using the power grid for Internet access. The FCC is bullish on the technology because it can bring broadband to underserved rural areas. The agency has proposed rules for ISPs who want to use power lines. Earthlink will run trials in the Carolinas and Central Florida. No details on how fast, although early tests of powerline networking produced speeds barely better than dial-up. Newer modems should do much better, though.
- The DOD has announced it’s scrapping the Commanche helicopter after two decades under development.
- We’re not dead yet. Putting the lie to last week’s San Jose Mercury-News article, Napster has announced that it’s sold 5 million tunes. It’s still solidly behind Apple’s iTunes Music Store but that’s probably my daughter’s doing.
- According to Slashdot, two UNIX-based spam filters are claiming accuracy rates higher than humans at detecting junk email. The programs, CRM114 and DSPAM, claim accuracy rates upwards of 99.9%.
- Motorola has announced a 1.42 GHz PowerPC chip for laptops. ZDNet UK is speculating that Apple might want to speed bump their Powerbooks based on the new chip. Apple has preferred the IBM PowerPCs of late.
|Monday, 23 February 2004, 2:35 pm
It’s back to work for me, back to news for you.
On this day in history:
- Historians think that the Gutenberg Bible was printed on this day in 1455, launching the previous information revolution.
- Calvin Coolidge created the FCC in 1927.
- Chicago gives the Cubs permission to install lights on Wrigley Field for the 1988 season.
- NBC runs the first network movie without commercial interruption in 1997. 65 million tune in for Schindler’s List.
Today’s top stories:
- Last week’s big story is still the top story of the week: a Federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that 321-Studios must stop selling all products that allow copying of commercial DVDs by the end of the week. In the ruling released last Friday, Judge Susan Illston sided with the movie companies saying “Legal downstream use of the copyrighted material by customers is not a defense to the software manufacturer’s violation of the provisions” of the DMCA. In other words, the fact that most people used DVDXCopy for legitimate purposes doesn’t outweigh the fact that it could be used for illegal purposes. In fact, under the DMCA, the program is illegal, period. 321-Studios will appeal but I’d buy a copy of the program before it’s pulled from the shelves. And it’s time to write Congress to get them to amend the DMCA.
- Just to be fair, Hollywood is also going after actual pirates by suing two Chinese factories that are cranking out bootlegged movies. I wonder if the pirates are using DVDXCopy? Not.
- In a related case, Sharman Networks, publishers of Kazaa, argued its case in Australian court Friday. The company is trying to get back computers seized in a raid two weeks ago by the Australian Recording Industry Association. There will be further testimony this week with a decision expected next week. There’s no DMCA in Australia but the climate is definitely turning chill down under.
- The FBI has released a new, more dramatic, warning to be attached to movies. The agency will also launch a letter writing campaign to discourage young’uns from swapping music.
- The Pentagon just bought a 2132 processor Linux cluster using 3.6 GHz Xeons for the Army Research Laboratory Major Shared Resource Center. The cluster will be used for flow dynamics and computational chemistry projects.
- Got Centrino? Intel is launching a major TV and billboard advertising campaign to make you believe you need the Wi-Fi bundle.
- More news from the Intel Developers Forum last week. The company demoed a 65 inch LCOS display good enough for HDTV. Intel says the technology could produce inexpensive screens as big as 90 inches. Philips is also manufacturing the chips.
- SCO is selling the licenses it claims you need to run Linux. They take Visa, too.
- Cable modem growth is slowing, DSL is rising. Cable has 16 million customers, 64% of the market, but analysts say that share will shrink as cable reaches the saturation point and the telcos start offering comparable speeds.
- NASA says more people visited its web sites this year than live on the planet Earth – 6.53 billion hits since Rover touched down. Must be some interested Martians.
- Einstein was right and The End of the Universe is not nigh, it turns out. Scientists using the doomed Hubble Space Telescope have determined that dark energy will keep the universe from imploding any time soon. Looks like we’ve got 30 billion years left, give or take a few.
|Thursday, 19 February 2004, 4:59 pm
Tags: News, Technology
I‘m on vacation and I’ve ignored the tech news up to now, but here’s a summary of the week’s top stories so far.
- Tuesday there were 531 more lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America, bringing the 2004 totals to over 1000. The EFF says the RIAA is cutting corners in this latest round. Meanwhile one of the victims is suing back claiming racketeering and extortion.
- They’ve been talking about it for months, now finally Yahoo has dropped Google as its primary search tool in favor of a homegrown product. Yahoo has been buying up search technologies from Inktomi, Overture, AltaVista and FAST. The Yahoo Slurp crawler started spidering the web on Monday, Google was gone by Tuesday. Big differentiator: Yahoo search will include paid placement, Google does not.
- Cingular became the largest cell phone company in the country with the acquisition of AT&T Wireless on Tuesday. 30% of all cell phones will be on the new joined network.
- According to pundit Paul Thurrott the Microsoft Windows source code leak came from an Israeli developer, Mainsoft, who was given the code several years ago to investigate porting parts of Windows to Linux.
- Our Worm of the Week: Netsky.B spreads via email then infects the entire network via shared folders. Symantec rates it a 4 out of 5 on the threat-o-meter.
- According to SlashDot, Apple is now debt free with $4.8 billion cash in the bank.
- Will the biggest threat to Microsoft’s monopoly come from China? Chinese developer Evermore Software released the English language version of its EIOffice suite at Demo this week. The company will start leasing the Java-based software for $99/year this May.
- At the Intel Developers Forum this week, Intel announced that several notebook manufacturers will begin to incorporate Internet telephony in their computers this year using Intel’s Extended Mobile Access (EMA) technology.
- Earthlink is going after the Alabama Gang, a group the company calls “the most professional and technologically sophisticated group of e-mail spammers” it has ever encountered. Earthlink is naming names and says the US DOJ has contacted it about criminal complaints, too.
- Slashdot has a story about a new automatic guitar tuner for musicians who are too stoned to tune their own. Jimmy Page and Graham Nash are endorsing it.
- Can you believe there’s no Morse code for the @-sign? Now there is. The first change to Morse since WWII. da-dit-da-dit-dah-dit
- My buddy Rick Yaeger at MacMerc says he’s found a way to get free iTunes from Pepsi bottles every time.
|Sunday, 15 February 2004, 6:10 pm
For the next three Sundays I’ll be doing an extra hour on my KFI radio show from 3-4p. We’re taping calls for later airing, so if you’ve had trouble getting in before, try between 3 and 4p for the next three Sundays!
|Thursday, 12 February 2004, 3:03 pm
The Unreal Tournament 2004 demo is out. Looks like it’ll be another wasted weekend for me.
Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on this day in 1809.
- For the first time ever scientists have cloned human embryos and grown them to the stage where their stem cells can be harvested.
- It’s the end of Doom today. The MyDoom virus is scheduled to stop attacking SCO today ending the most virulent computer attack to date. Of course the backdoor trojan and keylogger it installs are still alive and could be used for additional attacks any time.
- The FCC is preparing to issue a landmark ruling on Internet telephony. The California Public Utilities Commission joined several other states in voting yesterday to regulate Voice over IP (VoIP) providers like Vonage just as they do the old-line telecoms. The FCC is expected to block such moves in a ruling this week.
- A US District Court Judge in Seattle has issued a ruling that the jury in the upcoming Microsoft vs. Lindows case must consider whether the term “windows” was generic before Microsoft Windows 1.0 was published in 1985. That’s widely viewed as favorable to the Lindows cause. (Recent judgments in the Netherlands and Sweden have gone against the Linux distributor.) Lindows counsel said, “The court’s ruling confirms that a company, no matter how much money it spends, cannot buy a word out of the English language.” Microsoft will appeal.
- Former web search giant Lycos is restructuring. The Spanish based company laid off 20% of its US work force yesterday as it transitions “from a generic portal business to a tight network of interconnected vertical sites focused on personal connections.” Most of the wonderful Webmonkey team was laid off – and that’s a real loss.
- Spammers have set up a phony “Do Not Spam” site and are placing it at the bottom of their emails. The site, unsub.us, harvests addresses for future spam campaigns. Now more than ever, do NOT click the “Remove me” links in spam. In fact, don’t open spam at all – it just signals your presence. Delete spam – don’t read it.
- Speaking of scams, eBay is rife with “matrix” offers that are nothing more than pyramid schemes. The listings send the gullible off-site to participate in buying clubs to win iPods and other items. An eBay spokesman said, “We have 20 million items on the site at any one time. In the grand scheme of things it is insignificant.”
- 321 Studios, the creator of DVDXCopy is turning its attention to copying games. GamesXCopy can crack PC game CDs and place images on your hard drive for later play.
- At O’Reilly’s ETech Tuesday EBay said it plans to add better SOAP and Java support to the auction site, turning it into an application platform as much as a web site. Eventually you’ll be much more likely to participate in EBay auctions through standalone client applications than your browser.
- Remember that big blackout last summer? According to Security Focus, it was caused by a software bug.
- Jerry Sanders III, the Quixotic chairman of AMD, is retiring. Current CEO Hector Ruiz will take over. Sanders founded the chip company in 1969 and led it to success as a rival to the behemoth Intel.
- Meanwhile Intel is demonstrating its first chips based on photonics. The new chips will bring the cost of high-speed optical switches down to PC price points.
- MacMall is selling off the Macintosh G5s that were part of the Virginia Tech supercomputer project last Fall. VT is replacing the tower cases with XServe rack mounts. I ordered mine last night. Look for a G5 price drop any time now.
|Wednesday, 11 February 2004, 3:20 pm
Jack Paar walked off the tonight show on this day in 1960. Japan became the fourth space power in 1970 with the launch of its first satellite. It’s Japan Foundation Day today – the anniversary of the traditional founding of Japan in 660BC.
Happy birthday Thomas Edison (1847).
- EEye says it ain’t over yet. After revealing yesterday’s seven-month-old XP flaw yesterday, the security firm says there are seven more serious flaws that Microsoft has yet to patch, three of them critical. I’m thinking of shutting down my Windows machines for good at this point. Thank God for Mac and Linux.
- An Apple SEC filing has revealed that the company is facing five class-action lawsuits saying it misrepresented the battery life on the iPod. Hunh? My original iPod is still going strong. LiON batteries don’t last forever, but I don’t remember Apple saying they did.
- Cable company Comcast has just offered $66 billion to buy Disney outright. The unsolicited offer would make Comcast a rival to AOL Time Warner. Disney Chairman Michael Eisner had refused to enter discussions so Comcast is going directly to shareholders.
- America Online may be liable for illegal posting of copyrighted material according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals because the company did not offer an email address for reporting copyright violations. Harlan Ellison sued the online service for newsgroup postings of several of his short stories.
- Bye bye Whitehouse.com. The venerable porno service which capitalizes on mistyped searches for the President’s web site has decided to call it quits after seven years. The owner is selling because he’s worried about kids taunting his kindergarten-bound son. How touching. What about all the school-age kids who went there by mistake over the years?
- The Dakota County Sheriff in Hastings, Minnesota is posting mug shots and arrest records on the web for all the inmates in the county jail, convicted or not. Hey why not? They wouldn’t be in jail if they hadn’t done something wrong.
- Doc Searls and David Weinberger are at it again. The co-authors of the inspired Cluetrain Manifesto have now published a site explaining what the Internet isn’t. Required reading for all suits who hope to make a buck off the ‘net.
|Wednesday, 11 February 2004, 1:49 pm
A very serious flaw in Windows XP has been discovered by eEye Digital Security. Actually the flaw was discovered in July 2003, but Microsoft has just now gone public with it and is offering a patch through Windows update.
Marc Maiffret of eEye told us last night on The Screen Savers that it is among the most serious Windows flaws ever because it effects all users of NT/2000/XP and very many programs on the platform. It’s hard to believe, considering the magnitude of this flaw, that Microsoft has been sitting on the fix for over 200 days.
In any event, now that the hole is known, it’s very important that all users of Windows NT, 2000, and XP patch immediately. Run Windows update or use IE and visit the Windows Update Site right now.