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[#] Thu Apr 30 2009 19:14:00 EDT from timothy

Subject: The Sewing Machine War

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lousyd writes "Volokh has hosted a paper by George Mason University law professor Adam Mossoff on the patent fracas a century and a half ago surrounding the sewing machine. A Stitch in Time: The Rise and Fall of the Sewing Machine Patent Thicket challenges assumptions by courts and scholars today about the alleged efficiency-choking complexities of the modern patent system. Mossoff says that complementary inventions, extensive patent litigation, so-called 'patent trolls,' patent thickets, and privately formed patent pools have long been features of the American patent system reaching back to the antebellum era."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/JzOEvm2_Yg8/article.pl

[#] Thu Apr 30 2009 18:24:00 EDT from timothy

Subject: Think-Tank Warns of Internet "Brownouts" Starting Next Year

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JacobSteelsmith writes "A respected American think-tank, Nemertes Research, reports the Web has reached a critical point. For many reasons, Internet usage continues to rise (imagine that), and bandwidth usage is increasing due to traffic heavy sites such as YouTube. The article goes on to describe the perils Internet users will face including 'brownouts that will freeze their computers as capacity runs out in cyberspace,' and constant network 'traffic jams,' similar to 'how home computers slow down when the kids get back from school and start playing games.' ... 'Monthly traffic across the internet is running at about eight exabytes. A recent study by the University of Minnesota estimated that traffic was growing by at least 60 per cent a year, although that did not take into account plans for greater internet access in China and India. ... While the net itself will ultimately survive, Ritter said that waves of disruption would begin to emerge next year, when computers would jitter and freeze. This would be followed by brownouts — a combination of temporary freezing and computers being reduced to a slow speed.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/49pLOR3ajFo/article.pl

[#] Thu Apr 30 2009 17:42:00 EDT from Soulskill

Subject: Google Planning To Serve "High Quality News" Passively

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krou writes "The Wrap has an interesting interview with Eric Schmidt on Google's new plan for news. Google is apparently planning on rolling out 'high-quality news' to users who are not actively searching for news. It's expected to launch in approximately six months' time, and the first two news organizations to be involved will be The New York Times and The Washington Post. 'Under this latest iteration of advanced search, users will be automatically served the kind of news that interests them just by calling up Google's page. The latest algorithms apply ever more sophisticated filtering — based on search words, user choices, purchases, a whole host of cues — to determine what the reader is looking for without knowing they're looking for it. And on this basis, Google believes it will be able to sell premium ads against premium content.' Although Schmidt said that companies like the New York Times won't get any of this ad revenue, he commented that it will push stories to users who want them, drive up traffic to those stories, and in turn bring higher advertising rates for those stories." As VentureBeat points out, Google hasn't officially confirmed any of this, and with no ad revenue going to the other companies, it only partially addresses complaints that Google is profiting unfairly from the work of news publications.

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/N54AFFBLE2A/article.pl

[#] Thu Apr 30 2009 17:03:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Intel Faces $1.3B Fine In Europe

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Hugh Pickens writes "European antitrust regulators, who have been aggressively pursuing what they see as anticompetitive practices among technology companies, could impose their largest fine ever in a market-dominance case against Intel. The commission began investigating Intel in 2000 after Advanced Micro Devices, its arch-rival, filed a complaint. In two sets of charges, in 2007 and 2008, the commission accused Intel of abusing its dominant position in chips by giving large rebates to computer makers, by paying computer makers to delay or cancel product lines, and by offering chips for server computers at prices below actual cost. Some legal experts speculate that Intel's fine could reach about a billion euros, or $1.3B. 'I'd be surprised if the fine isn't as high or higher than in the Microsoft case,' said an antitrust and competition lawyer in London. In 2004 Microsoft paid a fine of €497M, or $663M at current exchange rates, after being accused of abusing its dominance; the EU imposed another $1.3B fine in Feb. 2008."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/5f4mmfse520/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 09:50:00 EDT from timothy

Subject: OpenBSD 4.5 Released

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portscan writes "OpenBSD 4.5 has been released. New and extended platforms include sparc64, and added device drivers. OpenSSH 5.2 is included, plus a number of tweaks, bugfixes, and enhancements. See the announcement page for a full list. OpenBSD is a security-oriented UNIX/BSD operating system." As per OpenBSD tradition, of course there's a song.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/exvAva-ur84/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 07:52:00 EDT from Soulskill

Subject: Stardock Declares Victory Over Demigod Piracy

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We recently got a look at some hard numbers related to the piracy of Demigod , a new game from Stardock and Gas Powered Games. Now, two weeks later, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has essentially declared the game a success in spite of the piracy, and reaffirmed the company's stance that intrusive DRM is a bad thing. The game's sales figures seem to bear him out. Quoting: "Yep. Demigod is heavily pirated. And make no mistake, piracy pisses me off. If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way. The reality that most PC game publishers ignore is that there are people who buy games and people who don't buy games. The focus of a business is to increase its sales. My job, as CEO of Stardock, is not to fight worldwide piracy no matter how much it aggravates me personally. My job is to maximize the sales of my product and service and I do that by focusing on the people who pay my salary — our customers."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/FxAZvPNHLt0/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 13:07:00 EDT from timothy

Subject: IE8 Update Forces IE As Default Browser

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We discussed Microsoft making IE8 a critical update a while back; but then the indication was that the update gave users a chance to choose whether or not to install it. Now I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes in with word that the update not only does not ask, but it makes IE the default browser. "Microsoft has a new tactic in the browser wars. They're having the 'critical' IE8 update make IE the default browser without asking. Yes, you can change it back, but it doesn't ask you if you want IE8 or if you want it as the default browser, it makes the decisions for you. Opera might have a few more complaints to make to the EU antitrust board after this, but Microsoft will probably be able to drag out the proceedings for years, only to end up paying a small fine. If you have anyone you've set up with a more secure alternative browser, you might want to help check their settings after this."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XkN_S8euHzs/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 13:45:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Canadian Pirates Sell Spurious Songs --- In 1897

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Reservoir Hill writes "The NYTimes reported in their June 13, 1897 edition that 'Canadian pirates' were flooding the country with spurious editions of the latest copyrighted popular songs. 'They use the mails to reach purchasers, so members of the American Music Publishers Association assert, and as a result the legitimate music publishing business of the United States has fallen off 50 per cent in the past twelve months' while the pirates published 5,000,000 copies of songs in just one month. The Times added that pirates were publishing sheet music at 2 cents to 5 cents per copy although the original compositions sold for 20 to 40 cents per copy. But 'American publishers had held a conference' and a 'committee had been appointed to fight the pirates' by getting the 'Post Office authorities to stop such mail matter because it infringes the copyright law.' Interestingly enough the pirates of 1897 worked in league with Canadian newspapers that published lists of songs to be sold, with a post office box address belonging to the newspaper itself. Half the money went to pay the newspapers' advertising while the other half went to the pirates who sent the music by mail." The AMPA never dreamed of suing their customers, though.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/-mtZrPpkTbM/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 14:27:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Windows 7 Launch Date Leaked --- 23 Oct. 2009

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Sockatume writes "Yesterday, two Acer executives in Europe separately let slip details that give us a good date for the release of Windows 7. First, Acer's vice-president for Europe discussed a new product, launching this September, that will support Windows 7's touch features. Asked whether this confirmed the Windows 7 release date as September 2009, he coyly remarked that 'when it's in store it won't have Windows 7 pre-loaded.' Microsoft would probably prefer that he had stopped there, but he added: 'We won't be actually selling [Windows 7] a day before the 23rd October.' Then, Acer's Managing Director for the UK helpfully clarified that while their product will ship with Windows Vista at launch, because it is on sale less than 30 days before the Windows 7 release date, it will be eligible for the 'upgrade program' to get a free upgrade to the new OS."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/30hmbv8UkiM/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 15:07:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: A Look Into the FBI's "Everything Bucket"

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Death Metal notes an EFF report on information wrested from the FBI over the last three years via Freedom of Information requests. The report characterizes what Ars Technica calls the FBI's "Everything Bucket" — its Investigative Data Warehouse. (Here's the EFF's introduction and the report itself.) The warehouse, at least 7 years in the making, "...appears to be something like a combination of Google and a university's slightly out-of-date custom card catalog with a front-end written for Windows 2000 that uses cartoon icons that some work-study student made in Microsoft Paint. I guess I'm supposed to fear the IDW as an invasion of privacy, and indeed I do, but given the report's description of it and my experiences with the internal-facing software products of large, sprawling, unaccountable bureaucracies, I mostly just fear for our collective safety."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/A6w0Z88TZXs/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 15:44:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Time To Cut the Ethernet Cable?

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coondoggie writes in with a Network World piece that begins "A range of companies with wireless LANs are discovering that 50% to 90% or more of Ethernet ports now go unused, because Wi-Fi has become so prevalent. They look at racks of unused switches, ports, Ethernet wall jacks, the cabling that connects them all, the yearly maintenance charges for unused switches, electrical charges, and cooling costs. So why not formally drop what many end users have already discarded — the Ethernet cable? 'There's definitely a right-sizing going on,' says Michael King, research director, mobile and wireless, for Gartner. 'By 2011, 70% of all net new ports will be wireless. People are saying, "we don't need to be spending so much on a wired infrastructure if no one is using it."' ... There is debate over whether WLANs, including the high-throughput 802.11n networks, will be able to deliver enough bandwidth." Cisco, which makes both wireless and wired gear, has a spokesman quoted calling this idea of right-sizing a "shortsighted message from a wireless-only provider. It's penny-wise and pound-foolish."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/McW3RGuZUig/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 16:24:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Let's Rename Swine Flu As "Colbert Flu"

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Bruce Perens writes "The World Health Organization will no longer refer to Virus A(H1N1) as 'Swine Flu,' citing ethnic reactions to 'swine,' for example among middle-eastern cultures who feel that swine are unclean. Or, is it because meat packers are concerned that people might stop eating pork in fear of the virus? WHO suggests that the public select a new name for the virus. I suggest that we all start calling it The Colbert Flu, after the comedian and fake pundit who asked his audience to stuff a NASA poll so that a Space Station module would be named after him. What can we do to make the name stick?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/X0vx3tn-LvM/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 17:04:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Iranians Outwit Censors With Falun Gong Software

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Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that since last year more than 400,000 Iranians began surfing the uncensored Web using software created for the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that has been suppressed by the Chinese government since 1999. More than 20 countries now use increasingly sophisticated blocking and filtering systems for Internet content, according to Reporters Without Borders, including Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The creators of the software seized upon by Iranians are members of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, based largely in the United States and closely affiliated with Falun Gong. Interestingly enough, the United States government and the Voice of America have financed some of the circumvention technology efforts, and a coalition is organizing to push for more Congressional financing of anti-filtering efforts, bringing together dissidents of Vietnam, Iran, the Uighur minority of China, Tibet, Myanmar, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, as well as the Falun Gong, to lobby Congress for the financing. 'What is our leverage toward a country like Iran? Very little,' said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. 'Suppose we have the capacity to make it possible for the president of the United States at will to communicate with hundreds of thousands of Iranians at no risk or limited risk? It just changes the world.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/bx2uPtc4fE4/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 17:46:00 EDT from kdawson

Subject: Linux Reaches 1% Usage Share

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je ne sais quoi writes "The April data is out for the Net Applications 'market share' survey of operating systems (more accurately referred to as a usage share). For the first time, Linux has reached 1%. This past month the Linux share increased by 0.12% which is well above the average monthly increase of 0.02%. Historically, the Net Applications estimate of market share has been lower than that of other organizations who measure this, but the abnormally large increase reported this month brings it closer to the median estimate of 1.11%. For other operating systems, Windows XP continued its slow decline by 0.64% to 62.21%, whereas Vista use is still increasing to 23.90%, but its rate of adoption is slowing. That is, this month's increase of 0.48% is well below the 12-month average increase of 0.78% and down from the peak rate of increase of 1.00% per month on average in January-February 2008. The total Windows share dropped to 87.90%. Mac OS use decreased slightly to 9.73% from 9.77%, but usage share of the iPhone and iPod Touch combined increased by 0.1%."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/ROlsakHejaI/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 18:28:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: Employee (Almost) Chronicles Sun's Top Ten Failures

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Business and Open Source pundit Matt Asay picked up on a recent attempt by Sun's Dan Baigent to chronicle the ten largest failures that took the tech giant from a $200 billion peak valuation to the recent buyout by Oracle for a mere $7.4 billion. Unfortunately, Dan only made it to number three on his list before Sun pulled the plug. How long will it take corporate overlords until they finally realize that broad level censorship and trying to control the message are far more harmful than just becoming part of the discourse? "I find that I tend to learn much more from my failures than from my successes. I'd be grateful for the chance to learn from Sun's, too. Sun, please let Baigent continue his countdown. It allows Sun to constructively chronicle its own failings, rather than allowing others to do so in less generous terms."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/OdGBQrvfXoY/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 19:12:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: Microsoft Releases Super-Secure XP to US Air Force

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Wired is reporting that Microsoft is releasing the most secure version of Windows XP ever created, but only if you are the US Air Force. "The Air Force persuaded Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to provide it with a secure Windows configuration that saved the service about $100 million in contract costs and countless hours of maintenance. At a congressional hearing this week on cybersecurity, Alan Paller, research director of the Sans Institute, shared the story as an template for how the government could use its massive purchasing power to get companies to produce more secure products. And those could eventually be available to the rest of us. Security experts have been arguing for this "trickle-down" model for years. But rather than wield its buying power for the greater good, the government has long wimped out and taken whatever vendors served them. If the Air Force case is a good judge, however, things might be changing."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/p_OPyYZrpWo/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 19:57:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: Cameron's Avatar a 3D Drug Trip?

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bowman9991 writes "James Cameron's first movie since 'Titanic', his upcoming science fiction epic 'Avatar', has a budget pushing US$200 million and enough hype to power a mission to Mars. Now it appears the 3D technology he created to turn his vision into a reality, the key to Avatar's success or failure, may be habit forming. Dr. Mario Mendez, a behavioral neurologist at the University of California, said it is entirely possible Cameron's 3D technology could tap brain systems that are undisturbed by conventional 2D movies. Cameron himself believes 3D viewing 'is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2D viewing doesn't' and that stereoscopic (3D) viewing uses more neurons, which would further heighten its impact."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/HgiBlcyWPic/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 20:41:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: FTC Backs Off Red Flag Rules Again

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coondoggie writes to tell us that the Federal Trade Commission has backed off of the new Red Flag Rule designed to protect consumer information yet again. Complaining about cost of implementation, the enforcement date of the rule has been pushed back to August 1, 2009 to give businesses and institutions time to implement identity theft prevention programs. "The FTC, federal bank regulatory agencies, and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) issued the Red Flags Rules as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003. The final rules require financial and credit institutions that hold any consumer account, or other account for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft, to develop and implement an Identity Theft Prevention Program for combating identity theft in connection with new and existing accounts, the FTC said."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/GL_O7ewZBTs/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 21:26:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: Pirate Party Banned From Social Networking Site

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An anonymous reader writes to tell us that as the European Parliament elections loom StudiVZ, Germany's largest social networking site, has opened up to political parties for election campaigning. That is, if you aren't the Pirate Party. "The other political parties were allowed to have a special account to show they are an organization and not an individual. The Pirate Party, however, was not allowed to have one and instead operated on a standard user account registered by an individual. StudiVZ noticed that the Pirate Party account was not a "real person" and despite it having a thriving network with hundreds of followers, it was summarily deleted. This means that it is impossible for the Pirate Party to have a presence at all on the largest social networking site in Germany."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/hMmao1g9Z4o/article.pl

[#] Fri May 01 2009 22:08:00 EDT from ScuttleMonkey

Subject: Flu Models Predict Pandemic, But Flu Chips Ready

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An anonymous reader writes "Supercomputer software models predict that swine flu will likely go pandemic sometime next week, but flu chips capable of detecting the virus within four hours are already rolling off the assembly line. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has designated swine flu as the '2009 H1N1 flu virus,' is modeling the spread of the virus using modeling software designed by the Department of Defense back when avian flu was a perceived threat. Now those programs are being run on cluster supercomputers and predict that officials are not implementing enough social distancing--such as closing all schools--to prevent a pandemic. Companies that designed flu-detecting chips for avian flu, are quickly retrofitting them to detect swine flu, with the first flu chips being delivered to labs today." Relatedly, at least one bio-surveillance firm is claiming they detected and warned the CDC and the WHO about the swine flu problem in Mexico over two weeks before the alert was issued.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/ckQtYr3bJe0/article.pl

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