What a Mesh

Microsoft is in the midst of a bid to buy Yahoo! Wonder why? Well, they’ve lifted the veil a bit on their newest product line, Live Mess Mesh:

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft unveils its web vision

Live Mesh is designed to blur the lines between running software and storing data on a desktop and “in the cloud”.

You know? The last thing I want Microsoft to *intentionally try* to do is “blur the lines” between anything. How ’bout you folks work on establishing something clearly-delineated first, and work your way up? I remember working for Comcast as a tech support rep, patiently explaining to customers that they didn’t need to be connected to the Internet to view their Word documents. Trust me, the lines are already plenty blurred.


The Television / PC Divide

Kodak’s technology blog, A Thousand Nerds, has an interesting post about the changing nature of consumer entertainment demand and how that will affect the way content gets delivered to its audience. It may be that we finally bridge the Television / PC divide by eliminating both from the equation:

A Thousand Nerds: A Kodak blog about innovation

What does this all mean? The TV and Internet as we know it are about to undergo massive change. TV will be replaced by connected displays able to deliver a full range of multimedia output. Sitting in front of the computer clicking away will also be replaced by new ways of interacting with these connected displays as the interaction transforms from passive consumption to two-way interaction. You can also expect more changes within the industry as companies consolidate, form new strategic partnerships, and realign offerings around multimedia.

Not that PCs will go away, or televisions either. But after decades of attempts to somehow merge the two (Windows Media Center, WebTV, etc), its seemed very clear that the two do not go together. The problem is largely one of furniture, however: people sit at desks to use their PCs and lounge on couches to watch TV, neither of which providing a comfortable environment to swap roles.


Use FireFox

If you need still further evidence that Internet Explorer is a losing bet – if better standards compliance, superior plugins, great skins and overall better performance don’t sway you – check out The Beeb’s latest article on yet another Windows virus propagated through IE on malware sites.


Digital Media and Digital Rights Management

Those of you who regularly stop back to this blog have no doubt noticed that a fair amount of the news updates are concerned with “DRM,” but many of you might not know what that means. You’ve seen Warner Brothers, Sony, Apple and iPod, along with lots of other big media names tied to those articles. I figured this morning would be a good opportunity to tackle some of the basic concepts surrounding “DRM,” and why I think they are important issues for progressives to be out in front of.

DRM means Digital Rights Management, but more importantly, it represents attempts by media conglomerates to use technological means to prevent users from copying content they’ve produced. Originally, it meant preventing CDs and DVDs from being copied, but with the digital age n full swing with MP3 players and digital downloads, it has meant a variety of other things in a variety of different venues all centered around the media industry’s “right” to make as much money as possible.

Concepts in this arena get messy quick, so I’m going to keep this post relatively short and leashed to only one relatively narrow topic: what is it about digital media that has so complicated copyright law?


e-Crime is Real. Why is There no e-Crime Department?

More and more, it becomes obvious that cybercrime has lots of real-world effects that even the casual inspection cannot ignore. That’s been obvious to most of us who pay attention for years, but now it’s become enough of a problem that in the U.K., people at the tops of industry are starting to clamor for a e-crime chief position to be created, presumably somewhere in Scotland Yard.

The article points out the basic problem, which is as much ours as it is Brittan’s:

IT chiefs demand centralised e-crime unit | The Register

Instead of reporting cybercrime to the police, the public is encouraged to report fraud to their banks, a policy criticised by a House of Lords select committee and security researchers. Soca itself only takes reports of cybercrime indirectly, and tackles only the largest cases.

If you were to inform the police, it’s doubtful that many of them would understand, let alone have the tools and wherewithall to act in an appropriate manner. You’re forced to seek out the help of your financial institution. As much as they have a stake in settling such matters, your bank is going to have roughly the same problem, getting the FBI involved when it really isn’t always necessary.

Something like a cybercrime chief is certainly called for, here as well as in the UK. Trouble in this country would be: does this become a national position in the FBI (which we actually already have), or does this mean that states need to get more involved? States would have a tough time of it, since most cybercrime is going to of necessity happen inter-state and out of their jurisdiction. At the same time, forensic evidence could be collected much more efficiently if only states had better tools to work with.

And of course, in this state, having a first line of defense would be critical to places like Wall Street.


DIY Call Center?

All of you who’ve had to grind it out with a Sutherland or Unisys call-center job will certainly find this amusing.  If you’ve ever longed to answer a few more phone calls when you got home from your $18,000 Suth job, wait no longer!  The Power of VOIP Compels You!

Yep.  Call Center tools like Round Robin answering and call forwarding, even including your very own 800 number, right from the comfort of your own home.  Next up?  Why, the latest game for the P3: Call Center Tycoon, that’s what!


I Need One of These

What a great gift idea! Perfect for the web designer who wants to ensure timely conclusions to weekly meetings and project check-points:

The Most Dangerous Object in the Office This Month: The Photonic Disruptor

This laser is borderline illegal. With an output of 105 milliwatts, it’s 21 times more powerful than your average presentation pointer. It was designed for SWAT and military use in nonlethal takedowns. The adjustable-focus green ray will do permanent retinal damage to anyone within about 60 feet, visually disorients people up to 1,150 feet away, and illuminates objects almost 2 miles out. Alternative uses: melting plastic, lighting fireworks, and settling heated disagreements over Wired kitchen queue-cutting on Burger Thursdays.


Verizon Open Network? Great. Can I MoBlog, Now?

About a year or so ago, now, I paid heavily for a 1.2 MegaPixel camera phone with the express intent to be able to moblog to my heart’s content. The term means posting blog entries of photos directly as they happened, from the phone to the blog. Well, forget that, Charlie. Verizon blocks their phones so that you can only post pictures to just one place: their crappy site.

Well, now Verizon says that they’re going to open the network to non-proprietary software, which for you non-geeks means stuff not created by them, by 2008:

Verizon Wireless promises openness to any software | Technology | Reuters

Verizon Wireless promised on Tuesday to allow its customers to download any application they want to their cell phones by the end of 2008, appearing to cave in to demands by Web search leader Google Inc.

Well, they may indeed be caving to Google, but in reality, this is one benefit of the iPhone. The iPhonies have been carping about not being able to write software for the iPhone since it was released, and Macintosh has recently capitulated. That means that if you get an iPhone, you’ll get to use whatever Open-Source or otherwise neat little toy you want to. . . on AT&T’s network.

So you see, it’s not in anyone’s interest to block software if they plan on competing with either AT&T or Macintosh. Moreover, not only is this pressure put on Verizon by AT&T – not only is it a race for network supremacy – but there is also a vested interest by companies like Motorola, who is up to their asses in Verizon, to open that network.

It should go without saying to anyone who has a nose for networking news that where there is open software, there is a threat of viruses. Nevertheless, an open network is a good thing for all of us, because it eventually means an end to the mindlessly-proprietary network schemes of the past and a more open, mobile world for us to collaborate in.

Oh, yeah. And moblogging!


Untapped Bloodlust: Militarizing the Internet

McClatchy has an interesting article this afternoon discussing the U.S. military’s activities mobilizing to find ways to use the Internet to conduct war. It was, of course, an inevitability. And of course, as a wise person recently wrote, dictatorships call their armies armies, whereas democracies always use the ruse of “defense:”

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/26/2007 | Into the wild new yonder: U.S. prepares for cyber-wars

The blueprint for the military is the “2006 National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations,” a classified document that includes both defensive and offensive measures, according to officials and analysts. Likely offensive tactics include disabling an enemy’s command-and-control networks, destroying data or dispatching false information to weapons networks, often as part of a larger attack with air power and other traditional weaponry.

What new devilry will come of this is, for now, an open question. Certainly like all covert operations, the question will be answered when opportunities present themselves. And my sense is that, with Russian leader Vladimir Putin making dangerous moves and Condi Rice (an expert in Russian affairs under Bush the First) and the helm of the state department, a fair amount of the attention is aimed squarely at the activities of the Kremlin.

The Latest in “Virus Ware”

Are you tired of only feeling threatened by viruses on your Windows PC?  Have you had enough of the security and stability of your digital camera?  Well, help is on the way: SPECTEC SDIO Wireless LAN Networking Card WLAN 802.11b, Internet Connection for PDAs, Notebooks and PCs: Video Games

Product Description Spectec SDW-820 is the world’s smallest SD WIFI card (802.11b) compatible with today most popular PDA models: iMate, iPAQ, Dell, etc. The card’s sleek and compact design is less than half the size of today standard SD wireless cards, while outperforming its competitors in stability, speed, range, reception strength and more. Are you sick of how far your SD WiFi card sticks out of your PDA? Not only does it look tacky, it makes it pretty easy to accidentally break. The Spectec SDW-820 is your solution for connecting to the web anytime and anywhere! We dare you to compare the SDW-820’s performance characteristics against similar cards from Sandisk! You will not find a better product!

Apparently, San Disk and KODAK are teaming up to offer this as an accessory item for KODAK cameras. What an awful prospect!  Now, anyone with a wireless card in your vicinity whilst you snap away photos of your ugly-ass kids can introduce a virus onto your camera that could screw up your camera, your PC or both.  It’s also conceivable, depending on how the architecture works, to create a virus that can even infect camera-by-camera.  It’s even potentially possible to write a virus which will reside in all that wasted CMOS memory your camera has, then lay in wait for the next victim.  Bad.

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Try m-Product, Like m-Product, or else I’ll Sue yr-Ass

Yes, we’ve all seen this boy: John Scherer, CEO and founder of Video Professor, the series of DVDs that claims to teach you how to use a computer. And he always ends his commercials with the catch-phrase (of sorts), “Try m-product?”

Well, apparently, he’s only interested in you trying his product, he’s not at all interested in you reporting back what you thought of the product to anyone else. If you do, he’s apparently ready to sue each and every last one of ya:


Interesting Info:* A direct quote from the Video Professor website reads, “Any company can say good things about its own product, but the real proof of product quality is when customers speak out about its excellence.”

* Ironically, Video Professor is suing its own customers, despite the aforementioned quote

A website and public consumer advocacy group called “” is getting sued for allowing people with what appear to be legitimate gripes against the company to voice them to the world. This article goes into detail with all the hidden fees and unordered but charged-for mystery DVDs people are experiencing.

So we’re clear, this all looks terribly familiar to me. When I was out of work recently, I was introduced to a website offering free business cards, so I signed up. I couldn’t tell ya the name of that site, now. After ordering the cards and getting them, I started getting mystery charges all over the place, and as it turned out, some shady “check-box magic” on the order form gave this scam enough quasi-legitimacy to avoid litigation from scammed folks all over the globe. I suspect the same thing is in play here.

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Cuomo Investigating, Facebook Red-Faced

Across the country, attorneys general are sniffing around Facebook and MySpace, looking to crack down on pornography and sexual predators.  Unfortunately, Facebook has taken to bragging about it’s privacy over MySpace, and that’s led to some red-faced explanations of why complaints about porn and predation have not been followed up on:

Facebook’s safety disputed || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

“My office is concerned that Facebook’s promise of a safe Web site is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints,” Cuomo said in a statement. Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker said Monday that the states’ concerns are being taken “very seriously.” . . . Founded in 2004, Facebook started as a social network for teenagers and college students, but in 2006, the site was opened to anyone. The company has boasted about its efforts to keep its sites private and safe.

Andrew Cuomo is right to be looking out for kids on the Internet, and if there’s reason to improve safety on Facebook, I’m all for it. However, this is an apples-and-oranges comparison: privacy and identity security as opposed to safety for minors.