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Businesses

How Steve Jobs Patent-Trolled Bill Gates 307

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-as-well-aim-high dept.
theodp writes "Apple, which is currently waging IP war on Android vendors, is no stranger to patent trolling. Citing the Steve Jobs bio, Forbes' Eric Jackson recalls how Steve Jobs used patents to get Bill Gates to make a 1997 investment in Apple. Recalled Jobs: 'Microsoft was walking over Apple's patents. I said [to Gates], "If we kept up our lawsuits, a few years from now we could win a billion-dollar patent suit. You know it, and I know it. But Apple's not going to survive that long if we're at war. I know that. So let's figure out how to settle this right away. All I need is a commitment that Microsoft will keep developing for the Mac and an investment by Microsoft in Apple so it has a stake in our success.' Next thing you know, BillG was lording over Jobs at Macworld Boston, as the pair announced the $150 million investment that breathed new life into then-struggling Apple. So, does Gates deserve any credit for helping create the world's most valuable company?"
Crime

UK Plans Private Police Force 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-polite-unless-you-spill-their-tea dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'Private companies could take responsibility for investigating crimes, patrolling neighborhoods and even detaining suspects under a radical privatization plan,' The Guardian reports. 'The contract is the largest on police privatization so far, with a potential value of £1.5bn over seven years, rising to a possible £3.5bn depending on how many other forces get involved.' A worrying development in a country with an ever-increasing culture of surveillance and intrusive policing."
Earth

Virginia High Court Rejects Case Against Climatologist Michael Mann 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-to-go dept.
ananyo writes "The Virgina Supreme Court on Friday tossed out an investigation by the state's conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, into Michael Mann, the former University of Virginia climatologist whose work on the now-famous hockey-stick graph has become a lightning rod for climate skeptics. 'In a dense and conflicted 26-page ruling (PDF) covering a century and a half of case law — including references to kings as well as modern "functional incongruities" that divided the judges themselves — Virginia’s high court ruled that the university is not a "person" and thus is not subject to Cuccinelli’s demands under the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.' The 'climategate' scientist has been cleared of wrongdoing by a number of investigations."
Government

Cook County Judge Says Law Banning Recording Police Is Unconstitutional 152

Posted by timothy
from the isn't-anyone-offended-by-the-original-charge? dept.
schwit1 writes "A Cook County judge Friday ruled the state's controversial eavesdropping law unconstitutional. The law makes it a felony offense to make audio recordings of police officers without their consent even when they're performing their public duties. Judge Stanley Sacks, who is assigned to the Criminal Courts Building, found the eavesdropping law unconstitutional because it potentially criminalizes 'wholly innocent conduct.' The decision came in the case of Christopher Drew, an artist who was arrested in December 2009 for selling art on a Loop street without a permit. Drew was charged with a felony violation of the eavesdropping law after he used an audio recorder in his pocket to capture his conversations with police during his arrest."
Communications

FCC Inquires Into Its Own Authority To Regulate Communication Service Shutdowns 112

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say dept.
New submitter DnaK writes "The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing whether or when the police and other government officials can intentionally interrupt cellphone and Internet service to protect public safety. A scary proposition which will easily become a First Amendment issue. Does the FCC have the authority to [regulate local or state authorities' decision to] take down cellular networks if they determine there is an imminent threat? The FCC is currently asking for public input (PDF) on this decision." According to the article, "among the issues on which the F.C.C. is seeking comment is whether it even has authority over the issue. The public notice asks for comment on whether the F.C.C. itself has legal authority over shutdowns of wireless service and whether it can pre-empt local, state or federal laws that prohibit or constrain the ability of anyone to interrupt service." Maybe they just don't like being upstaged by BART.
The Media

How Publishers Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Zite's Aggregator 22

Posted by timothy
from the and-you're-reading-it-here dept.
waderoush writes "In March 2011, personalized-magazine startup Zite got a cease-and-desist letter from a group of 11 media giants outraged by the way Zite's popular iPad app 'misappropriated' their news articles. By August 2011, Zite had become part of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, one of the organizations behind the C&D letter. Zite's brief clash with the media establishment, followed by its swift assimilation into the same establishment, is emblematic of a larger story unfolding in the media business: the grudging acknowledgement by publishers that readers want to access their content in new ways. In this article Zite CEO Mark Johnson explains how the startup mollified publishers (by presenting articles in 'Web view' mode rather than a stripped-down 'reader mode'), why CNN bought the company, and how it strives to make reading more enjoyable while still respecting publishers' business models."
Government

Government Should Ban Skinny Models To Curb Anorexia, Say Researchers 676

Posted by timothy
from the too-fat-for-me dept.
smoothjazz writes "Governments are justified to prevent very skinny models from walking the catwalk and ban photographs and advertisements suggesting that extreme thinness is attractive, according to a group of researchers who found that social and cultural environment influences on young women is largely responsible for the spread of chronic eating disorder."
Transportation

Car Hacking Concerns On the Rise 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the except-among-car-manufacturers dept.
Pat Attack writes "I think most of the people who read Slashdot know that if it has circuitry, it can be hacked. Well, the good folks over at CNN have an article about the potential for your car to be hacked. This article lists the potential damage that could be done, proof of concept work, as well as a few scary scenarios. 'With vehicles taking up to three years to develop, [security strategist Brian Contos] says manufacturers will struggle to keep abreast of rapidly-evolving threats unless they organize regular software updates. Instead, he says, any installed technology should be given a so-called "white list" of permissible activities beyond which any procedures are blocked.' My mom reads CNN and is a Luddite. I expect to hear from her today. She'll probably tell me my new car with bluetooth is unsafe."
Sony

Sony To Delete Virtual Goods 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the satisfaction-is-not-guaranteed dept.
New submitter dommer2029 writes "A few years back, Sony bought up a small company running an online collectible card game called Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga. Two days ago, they announced that the servers will be shutting down on March 29, 2012. All of our virtual collectible cards? Poof. It's not surprising — the user base is small and dwindling — but it's proof that any server-based digital goods you 'own' can vanish on a corporation's whim."
Crime

In Theory And Practice, Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea 218

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-do-these-guys-know? dept.
A few countries, like Estonia, have gone for internet-based voting in national elections in a big way, and many others (like Ireland and Canada) have experimented with it. For Americans, with a presidential election approaching later this year, it's a timely issue: already, some states have come to allow at least certain forms of voting by internet. Proponents say online elections have compelling upsides, chief among them ease of participation. People who might not otherwise vote — in particular military personnel stationed abroad, but many others besides — are more and more reached by internet access. Online voting offers a way to keep the electoral process open to them. With online voting, too, there's no worry about conventional absentee ballots being lost or delayed in the postal system, either before reaching the voter or on the way back to be counted. The downsides, though, are daunting. According to RSA panelists David Jefferson and J. Alex Halderman, in fact, they're overwhelming. Speaking Thursday afternoon, the two laid out their case against e-voting.

(Read more for more, and look for a video interview with Halderman soon).
Privacy

Startup Wants To Peek Through Your Home's Wired Cameras 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the nope-nope-nope dept.
alphadogg writes "The little cameras in your home are multiplying. There are the ones you bought, perhaps your SLR or digital camera, but also those that just kind of show up in your current phone, your old phone, your laptop, your game console, and soon your TV and set-top box. Varun Arora, founder of startup GotoCamera in Singapore, wants you to turn them all on and let his company's algorithms analyze what they show, then sell the results as marketing data, in a sort of visual version of what Google and other firms do with search results and free email services."
Games

Video Games: Goods Or Services? 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-the-suits-will-decide-for-us dept.
silentbrad points out an article about the gradual shift of video games from being 'goods' to being 'services.' They spoke with games lawyer Jas Purewal, who says the legal interpretation is murky: "If we're talking about boxed-product games, there's a good argument the physical boxed product is a 'good,' but we don't know definitively if the software on it, or more generally software which is digitally distributed, is a good or a service. In the absence of a definitive legal answer, software and games companies have generally treated software itself as a service – which means treating games like World of Warcraft as well as platforms like Steam or Xbox LIVE as a service." The article continues, "The free-to-play business model is particularly interesting, because the providers of the game willingly relinquish direct profits in exchange for greater control over how players receive the game, play it, and eventually pay for it. This control isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It can help companies to better understand what gamers want from their games, and done properly such services can benefit both gamers and publishers. Of course, the emphasis here is on the phrase 'done properly.' Such control can easily be abused."
Government

Voting System Test Hack Elects Futurama's Bender To School Board 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the bite-my-shiny-metal-ballot dept.
mr crypto writes with this quote from El Reg: "In 2010 the Washington DC election board announced it had set up an e-voting system for absentee ballots and was planning to use it in an election. However, to test the system, it invited the security community and members of the public to try and hack it three weeks before the election. 'It was too good an opportunity to pass up,' explained Professor Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan. 'How often do you get the chance to hack a government network without the possibility of going to jail?' With the help of two graduate students, Halderman started to examine the software. Despite it being a relatively clean Ruby on Rails build, they spotted a shell injection vulnerability within a few hours. They figured out a way of writing output to the images directory (PDF) on the compromised server, and of encrypting traffic so that the front-end intrusion detection system couldn't spot them. The team also managed to guess the login details for the terminal server used by the voting system. ... The team altered all the ballots on the system to vote for none of the nominated candidates. They then wrote in names of fictional IT systems as candidates, including Skynet and (Halderman's personal favorite) Bender for head of the DC school board."
Google

Google: Best Adaptation of a Novel To a Patent? 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the they'd-like-to-thank-the-academy dept.
theodp writes "The USPTO's Thursday publication of Google's patent application for Inferring User Interests was nicely-timed, coinciding with what ZDNet called Google's privacy policy doomsday. The inventors include Google Sr. Staff Research Scientist Shumeet Baluja, the author of The Silicon Jungle, a cautionary tale of data mining's promise and peril, which Google's Vint Cerf found 'credible and scary.' No doubt some will feel the same about Beluja's patent filing, which lays out plans for mining 'user generated content, such as user interests, user blogs, postings by the user on her or other users' profiles (e.g., comments in a commentary section of a web page), a user's selection of hosted audio, images, and other files, and demographic information about the user, such as age, gender, address, etc.'"
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Why is the EFF at the RSA Security Conference? (Video) 34

Posted by Roblimo
from the all-hail-the-mighty-Electronic-Frontier-Foundation dept.
Timothy asked Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) International Outreach Coordinator Maira Sutton that very question. Watch the video for her answer. It turns out that the EFF has lots of friends among RSA ("the most comprehensive forum in information security") attendees, and has some very good reasons to be there, in the midst of companies and government agencies that Timothy thinks might not only violate your privacy once in a while, but (gasp!) might even enjoy it.

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