Thursday, April 29, 2004

Walmart is going to carry RCA's smut filtering DVD player which uses technology developed by ClearPlay and censors the movie (presumably) according to the company's moral code.
Scientists and researchers at Israel's Wezmann Institute are claiming to have constructed a DNA computer capable of detecting some forms of cancer. This is just a proof-of-concept demonstration and human tests are not happening soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It seems Google has asked Y-Que (perhaps the world's greatest online t-shirt source) to remove some politically charged T-Shirts from Y-Que's own web site. If they refused, Y-Que wouldn't be able to advertise using Google's AdWord service.
Legoland is now offering an electronic child tracking service called Kidspotter. For a rental fee, the amusement park will track the wristband-wearing tykes during their visit.
The Japanese company Thanko is releasing a hard drive video player called the mPAVIO. Of note is that the player comes with software which claims to allow the device to be controlled by the user's thoughts. There is little infomation about the "MCP", but it sounds similar to the Peeg from DreamFree.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The U.S. Justice Dept. has opened a criminal inquiry into the apparent theft of sensitive information by two Republican staffers who read Democratic strategy memos on a Senate Judiciary Committee computer system.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The FTC has announced that, beginning May 19th, sexually explicit spam will be required to be labeled with "Sexually-Explicit:" in the subject header. It also will require that the mandatory disclosure of the sender’s “valid physical postal address” will be “clear and conspicuous". No doubt this has non-U.S. based spammers shaking in their booties.
The RIAA is in a tizzy over a recent study which shows file trading doesn't hurt sales, saying its results are different than their own. The researcher's response? "If 20 or 100 or 1,000 people say the sun revolves around the earth, it doesn't make it so."
In a hunt for a serial rapist, the Charlottesville Police Department recently began asking some black men to voluntarily undergo a DNA test in order to "eliminate" their names from a database of contacts. In at least one case, a man who refused was repeatedly stopped by police and asked to take the test.
The AP is reporting that Cyberkinetics Inc. of Foxboro, Mass., has received FDA approval to begin a clinical trial of four-square-millimeter Human Brain Implant chips which will be placed in the skulls of paralyzed patients.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

MSNBC has a story about how the war may be pushing robotic development more than anything else.
Is copying and pasting the contents of a chat session illegal? If one of the parties is in New Hampshire and hasn't given permission, it just might be. What about email, or instant messaging? Good question!
An interesting piece in today's New York Times about how U.S. troops are (illegally?) sharing mp3 files in an effort to make their live more, ummm, livable. My favorite quote is from Sergeant Thomas R. Mena: "Any time anybody on the team gets a new CD, they load it in, so we stay pretty current". I find it very interesting that the article never once uses the word piracy.

Monday, April 12, 2004

With Mayor Daley declaring "In America, there's no such thing as a police state." Chicago authorities have announced that gunshot detection technology will be added to the dozens of surveillance cameras installed in the city.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is using "high-pressure lobbying" in an attempt to create a massive database of who is prescribing and who is using prescription drugs in that state.
American Airlines admitted that it shared passenger data with the Transportation Security Administration in June 2002, without the permission of the passengers. That data was then shared with four research companies — HNC Software, Infoglide Software, Ascent Technology and Lockheed Martin. American Airlines says it didn't give permission to share the data with these companies, a claim being challenged by Airline Automation, the company which actually shared the data.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Friday, April 09, 2004

A Belgian driver was sent a ticket earlier this year when a radar device clocked his Mini at traveling at 3 times the speed of sound! I knew there was a reason I want a Cooper.
A bill to introduce ID cards containing BioMetric data in the U.K. may be introduced within months. Civil Liberty groups are not pleased.
The Associated Press has a story about how the major record companies want to charge as much (or more) for downloadable music as they do for CDs. So much for the argument that the high price of music is due to manufacturing and distribution costs.
Not surprisingly, the PlayFair program (which strips DRM from iTune files) I mentioned earlier this week has received a Cease and Desist letter (from Apple maybe?) and has been removed from the Sourceforge website, only to reappear (somewhat) on an Indian site.
A newly installed stoplight in Pleasanton, Calif. will turn red if drivers are speeding. It replaces a stop sign and will only turn red in the direction of the speeder, allowing legal drivers traveling in the other direction to continue.
A Gamblers Anonymous message board is being plauged by pop-up ads, for gambling sites!
A suicide of a 22 year old man caught on a New York Police Department surveillance system has found its way onto an Internet site "filled with violent and racially offensive images", prompting calls for tighter controls of the images obtains by these security cameras.
RCA is releasing a $79 DVD player which strips out the naughty parts of a movie. Hollywood is arguing that this the same as pirating and then altering an artistic work. ClearPlay, the makers of the technology which allows this, says it's more similar to auto-fast-forwarding.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Described as "a black box for people", the CPOD is a device developed by NASA that is worn around a person's waist and monitors a wide variety of vital signs. One wonders how long before these devices will be required by insurance companies.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Voting system manufacturer VoteHere is releasing its source code for review. Note: It is not being released as free software, like the system being developed by the Open Voting Consortium, but having VoteHere's source code available for inspection is miles beyond what companies like Diebold are currently offering.
A study at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University and Duke University has found that cancer patients who used virtual reality as a distraction during chemotherapy responded better to treatment.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found that surgeons who play video games at least 3 hours a week are 27% faster and make about 37% fewer mistakes during some procedures than doctors who don't.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Lindows will be changing its name because of the international lawsuits brought by Microsoft (in the U.S., a judge decided against Microsoft). No decision has been announced with regards to the new name. That announcement is scheduled for April 14th.
Wired news is reporting that hundreds of trauma patients in California and other states are receiving artificial blood, known as PolyHeme, without their knowledge or permission. This is happening even though the product hasn't yet been approved for general use. It is allowed because of a 1996 law which allows research to be done without informed consent, when it involves emergency treatment.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Problems with the computer systems at First Data Corporation ("we make commerce more secure...") has resulted in the overcharging of more than 800,000 Wal-Mart customers on March 31 and April 1. Shoppers who used a Visa or Mastercard at the megamart are urged to check their bills.
Bill Gates has been replaced as the world's richest man by the founder of Ikea.
Police and firefighters in some cities are saying that cell phones may prevent them from using radios during times of emergencies.
NASA is considering using a robot to service the Hubble Telescope, thus extending its useful time in space.
A number of companies, including Toys 'r Us, Wal-Mart, Taco Bell, and Pep Boys, are being accused of secretly altering employees' computerized time cards to reduce the amount of overtime pay. At least one manager who refused says she was fired because she didn't go along with the time-card manipulation.
PlayFair is a program which strips out the Digital Rights Management components of iTune files so a user won't be as limited in what they can do with songs they have purchased.

Friday, April 02, 2004

The TSA is thinking about using RFID tags in boarding passes to track passengers. Privacy activists are not pleased.
Kim Zetter at Wired News has written a special report on How E-Voting Threatens Democracy. Quite interesting.
The President's Council on Bioethics has released "Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies".
The first computer designed and manufactured in India, known as the Amida Simputer, is finally being shipped after 3 years of development. The 266mhz handheld will run Linux and sell for the equivilent of about $240.
Google is going to offer 1 gigabyte of space for email. Some folks thought it was an April Fools joke (it wasn't), but still others are concerned about privacy issues.
Sun and Microsoft have reportedly reached an agreement in their long running feud over Intellectual Property and patents.
Forrester Research is reporting that Linux and Windows are equally secure. A surprising finding is that Microsoft often patches its OS twice as fast as Red Hat.
The medical journal Diabetes Care is reporting that the GlucoWatch G2 Biographer, which monitors blood-sugar levels, may not "reliably detect" low blood glucose levels. This appears to be consistent with earlier reports which say the G2 is better at higher levels and "does not approach that of current home glucose meters".
Gateway Computers is probably going to move its headquarters from Poway to Orange County, Calif. They've also announced that they are going to close all of their retail stores, laying off 2500 employees in the process.