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Friday, November 29, 2002

keeping up with DARPA
The American DARPA is always worth keeping an eye on, from their arranging the original internet to their continued work on artificial agents, robotics, and many projects for the war on terror, including considering how to reliably track even privacy-conscious users on the net. Their spring 2002 report (.pdf file) offers a solid view of their current work.

(Thanks to Jim Dowling, who found it at Scout!)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 10:20 AM

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Classic PC Games Released on PocketPC
Infinite Ventures has been bringing classic PC games like Shadowgate and Speedball 2 to PocketPC systems. The latest releases from them are both installments in the great graphic adventure series, Déjà Vu. Versions for PalmOS are also planned. via Adventure Gamers
posted by Donald Melanson @ 6:40 PM

Richard Posner crosses party lines on copyright
The University of Chicago's Richard Posner, perhaps the leading (and most prolific) legal mind in the US, gave a recent talk on IP, arguing that copyright terms are too long. This represents another case of copyright law arguments crossing party lines, since Posner is famously a conservative defender of property rights:

"These rights keep expanding without any solid information about why they're socially beneficial," Posner said. "At the same time that regulations are diminishing, intellectual-property rights are blossoming--(two) opposite trends bucking each other."

Posner published a paper on copyright terms earlier this year.

(via FOSblog)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 11:49 AM

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Console RPG Makers to Merge
Reuters reports that the two most well-known makers of console role-playing games, Square (creators of the Final Fantasy series) and Enix (creators of the Dragon Quest series), will merge in a deal worth $727 million. Square's CEO, Yoichi Wada, will lead the new company, repotedly to be named Enix Square Co. via Slashdot
posted by Donald Melanson @ 4:39 PM

Friday, November 22, 2002

eDNA: Pentagon mulled creating nonanonymous internet sectors
According to a John Markoff story in today's NYT, the DoD considered developing a means to de-anonymize sectors of the internet:

"The Pentagon research agency that is exploring how to create a vast database of electronic transactions and analyze them for potential terrorist activity considered but rejected another surveillance idea: tagging Internet data with unique personal markers to make anonymous use of some parts of the Internet impossible.

The idea, which was explored at a two-day workshop in California in August, touched off an angry private dispute among computer scientists and policy experts who had been brought together to assess the implications of the technology.

The plan, known as eDNA, called for developing a new version of the Internet that would include enclaves where it would be impossible to be anonymous while using the network. The technology would have divided the Internet into secure "public network highways," where a computer user would have needed to be identified, and "private network alleyways," which would not have required identification..."

"The review of the proposal was financed by a second Darpa unit, the Information Processing Technology Office."

"...Darpa awarded a $60,000 contract to SRI International, a research concern based in Menlo Park, Calif., to investigate the concept. SRI then convened the workshop in August to evaluate its feasibility.

Far from being hermetic, note the wide-ranging pool of stellar expertise invited to play, initially:

"The workshop brought together a group of respected computer security researchers, including Whitfield Diffie of Sun Microsystems and Matt Blaze of AT&T Labs; well-known computer scientists like Roger Needham of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England; Michael Vatis, who headed the National Infrastructure Protection Center during the Clinton administration; and Marc Rotenberg, a privacy expert from the Electronic Privacy Information Center..."

However, the lack of consensus was sharp. Most found the idea repellant. On the other hand, the chair was much more mission aligned:

"...Dr. Stavridou told the other panelists, "Darpa asked SRI to organize the meeting because they have a deep interest in technology for identifying network miscreants and revoking their network privileges."..."

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 12:03 PM

Thursday, November 21, 2002

PubScience remains closed, the pyramid's eye opens
Despite public outcry, PubScience remains closed. Critics (like those here) have charged the Department of Energy with caving into pressure from commercial interests.

At the same time, John Poindexter has launched a very well supported database project to centrally collect and search information on all US citizens.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 3:15 PM

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Webbery for sale
Dot Store is selling all sorts of Web activites for your offline, RL enjoyment: Google search tea-towels, complete with plaintive texts; cell phone ringtones, to corrupt local birdlife; tattooes of "under construction" Website images.

From Autumn 2002 until Autumn 2004, dot-store will produce and sell a range of low cost vintage products that reference both the history of the world wide web and the popular explosion of mobile communications in the 1990's.

dot-store is particularly interested in drawing attention to the blurring of public & private spaces online, and the increasing overlap between personal testimony & corporate interest.

(via Rhizome)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 12:40 PM

Friday, November 15, 2002

Supreme Court to hear net filtering law case

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (introduced, 1999; passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, 2000; in effect, 2001). This law, which mandates the installation of internet content filtering software in all publicly-accessible computers in schools and libraries receiving federal funding, was struck down in lower federal court for First Amendment reasons. Additionally, the numerous efficacy problems around filtering software played a role in the court's decision:

...the plaintiffs demonstrated that thousands of Web pages containing protected speech are wrongly blocked by the four leading filtering programs, and these pages represent only a fraction of Web pages wrongly blocked by the programs. The plaintiffs' evidence explained that the problems faced by the manufacturers and vendors of filtering software are legion. The Web is extremely dynamic, with an estimated 1.5 million new pages added every day and the contents of existing Web pages changing very rapidly. The category lists maintained by the blocking programs are considered to be proprietary information, and hence are unavailable to customers or the general public for review, so that public libraries that select categories when implementing filtering software do not really know what they are blocking.

Nevertheless, CIPA advanced on appeal to the Supremes.
Numerous groups, including the ACLU, ALA, EFF, and the Online Policy Group have campaigned to repeal the bill.

(thanks to Steven Kaye)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 10:41 AM

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Department of Defense aiming for autonomous, learning computers
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is working on developing autonomous cognitive systems, which can learn on their own.

The "cognitive system" DARPA envisions would reason in a variety of ways, learn from experience and adapt to surprises. It would be aware of its behavior and explain itself. It would be able to anticipate different scenarios and predict and plan for novel futures.

(via Nanodot)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 12:12 PM

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Cyber Beggar Finally Debt Free
29-year-old Karyn Bosnick, who racked up $20K worth of high-interest credit-card debt is finally debt free. Bosnick launched the website savekaryn.com several months ago and asked total strangers to help pay her bills. Between donations received and items she sold on eBay, Karyn is apparently in the black.

Further story here at CNN.

posted by Dan Richards @ 3:29 PM

new p2p client from Napster's founder
Napster's founder has launched a new p2p client: Plaxo. This time, it's for personal information. And it's ready for downloading.

(via BoingBoing)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 12:28 PM

Japanese company thrives on the open wires strategy the US is running from
Lawrence Lessig draws our attention to eAccess (English-language site), a DSL enterprise that's making a mint from offering cheap and veryveryfast (12 pms) broadband. eAccess explains its success to being able to innovate on open wires - the configuration that allowed booming innovation in the United States, and which is now being rolled back:

Talk to the extraordinary president of eAccess, Sachio Semmoto, and he'll tell you the key to eAccess's success: That Japan learned from the United States that access to copper had to be "open." Open access meant new competition; competition has driven prices down, speed up.

It's an amazing thing, competition. Apparently it doesn't work in America, though. Now that the Japanese have profited from the American lesson on regulation, the Americans are retreating. The FCC is moving as quickly as it can to undo open access requirements.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 9:43 AM

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Phoenix: Altavista's gambit for survival
AltaVista has launched a new design, called Phoenix. The strategy is bold, including many elements from recent searching research, along with local and personal focal improvements. As part of a move to re-brand itself for confidence, the site sports a cleaner design, along with a news service obviously aimed at Google's.

To quote Search Engine Watch:

With Phoenix, AltaVista seems to have genuinely moved toward establishing itself as a viable player in the web search arena once again.

(via Search Engine Watch)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 4:43 PM

Monday, November 11, 2002

Spam in a (federal) trash can
The FTC has been collecting forwarded spam for several years:

The FTC now gets around 70,000 forwarded spams a day. Last year, they received about 40,000 pieces a day. Three years ago, that mailbox received about 4,000 missives daily, and in 1998 the entire year's take was fewer than 100 spams.

The FTC's spam collection is neatly sorted into "libraries" viewable by date received or subject matter. The spam can also be searched and sorted using keywords like "Opportunity," "Hi! and "Free!"

Six FTC employees are in charge of the spam database's contents.

"No one sits down and actually reads all the spam that we receive daily," Huseman said. "That would be incredibly boring and totally futile. We read selected spams when we're investigating a specific issue."

The FTC uses a content management application from Convera to search the database, dubbed "The Refrigerator" by FTC employees in reference to the large white server that houses the collection.

Here's the email address: uce@ftc.gov

(Thanks to Bob Watson!)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 3:54 PM

Autopoetic tanks in the DoD works
The Pentagon has contacted for the development of self-repairing, chameleon-like tanks. A nanotech outer layer should either fix up light damage, or contact HQ. Meanwhile, said skin should alter hue to blend into the immediate visual environment.
(Thanks to Warren Ellis)

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 12:07 PM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Tablet PC Set to Launch Tomorrow
As Business Week Online reports, Bill Gates is optimistic, to say the least, about tomorrow's launch of the Tablet PC, boldly stating "This is big. Don't doubt me." Big is of course a relative term. While there are undoubtedly some small areas where the tablet PC will gain some immediate acceptence, I can't see it making a dent in the consumer market any time soon -- at least not while you can get an iBook or comparable Windows laptop for almost half the price.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 4:52 PM

MIT IP Library
MIT is creating a digital library for researchers' intellectual property.
posted by Bryan Alexander @ 3:05 PM

Apple Releases New Laptops
Apple today released their updated PowerBook, hitting the 1GHz mark for the first time. In addition to the 1GHz G4, the top model will also include a SuperDrive. New iBooks were also released, topping out with an 800MHz G3. Both retain the same design as previous models.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 12:50 PM

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