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[economist] High-tech passports are not working
Topic: Technology 5:54 pm EST, Feb 23, 2005

[linked from Schneier's blog]

IN OLDEN days (before the first world war, that is) the traveller simply pulled his boots on and went. The idea that he might need a piece of paper to prove to foreigners who he was would not have crossed his mind. Alas, things have changed. In the name of security (spies then, terrorists now), travellers have to put up with all sorts of inconvenience when they cross borders. The purpose of that inconvenience is to prove that the passport's bearer is who he says he is.

The original technology for doing this was photography. It proved adequate for many years. But apparently it is no longer enough. At America's insistence, passports are about to get their biggest overhaul since they were introduced. They are to be fitted with computer chips that have been loaded with digital photographs of the bearer (so that the process of comparing the face on the passport with the face on the person can be automated), digitised fingerprints and even scans of the bearer's irises, which are as unique to people as their fingerprints.

[economist] High-tech passports are not working

Decision to sell antivirus products places Microsoft in quandary
Topic: Technology 7:52 pm EST, Feb 22, 2005

If Microsoft Corp. doesn't do more to stem Internet attacks, the company risks further alienating customers unhappy with the multitude of threats already facing its ubiquitous software.

Sell its own security products, on the other hand, and Microsoft faces a potential backlash from some of its allies -- the companies that now provide an extra layer of security for its Windows operating system, Internet Explorer browser and other products.

Decision to sell antivirus products places Microsoft in quandary

[cato] Peer-to-Peer Networking and Digital Rights Management: How Market Tools Can Solve Copyright Problems
Topic: Current Events 4:51 pm EST, Feb 18, 2005

The term "peer to peer" (P2P) refers generally to software that enables a computer to locate a content file on another networked device and copy the encoded data to its own hard drive. P2P technology often attracts people who use it to reproduce or distribute copyrighted music and movies without authorization of rights owners.For that reason, the short history of P2P technology has been one of constant controversy and calls by many in the content industry to regulate or even ban P2P-based networks or software.

As a general preventive measure against copyright infringements through digital technologies including P2P, copyright owners often use digital rights management (DRM) techniques to encrypt content or otherwise restrict access. Depending on the access or compensation arrangement, content owners may differentiate prices and limit use by the number of plays, duration of access, temporary or partial uses, lending rights, and the number of devices on which the file may be accessed. The potential level of use control may go beyond the expectations of consumers accustomed to a broader range of uses enabled by analog technology. Consequently, many consumer advocates now contend that DRM is harmful to consumers because it tilts the balance of control in favor of copyright holders. For their part, rights owners respond that DRM merely offsets grave dangers made possible by digitization and Internet distribution.

This study argues that the basic functions of DRM and P2P can be quite complementary and that innovative market mechanisms that canhelp alleviate many copyright concerns are currently blossoming. Government should protect the copyrights of content owners but simultaneously allow the free market to determine potential synergies, responses, and outcomes that tap different P2P and DRM business models. In particular, market operations are greatly preferable to government technology controls, on the one hand, or mandatory compulsory licensing schemes, on the other. Recent court decisions regarding the liability of P2P networks or software providers may force the Supreme Court to revisit its own precedents in this area. In the absence of an efficient resolution by the Court,Congress may pass legislation that may interfere with both technological evolution and free-market processes.

[cato] Peer-to-Peer Networking and Digital Rights Management: How Market Tools Can Solve Copyright Problems

Researchers: Typing Style Can Be Password
Topic: Technology 9:45 am EST, Feb 18, 2005

The way you type is as unique as your eye color or speech patterns and can be used instead of a password to protect your computer, researchers at Louisiana Tech and Penn State say.

Their discovery will bring Louisiana Tech its first direct royalty income, university president Daniel D. Reneau said in signing a joint licensing agreement with BioPassword Inc. of Issaquah, Wash.

[ It seems to me that this has some serious problems, the first being it is easy to record, and a device can be made to play back keystrokes with correct timing.

Of course, you could argue that passwords can be stolen, but the difference is users know passwords should be kept secret. They don't know that they now need to type in secret, or be very careful about where they type. ]

Researchers: Typing Style Can Be Password

Microsoft recalls 14 million cords around the globe
Topic: Technology 8:04 pm EST, Feb 17, 2005

The recall affects the majority of Xbox consoles sold. As of December 31, Microsoft had sold 19.9 million consoles worldwide, 13.2 million of which were in North America, 5.0 million in Europe, and 1.7 million in the Japan/Asia Pacific region, according to the company.

Microsoft recalls 14 million cords around the globe

CodeBreakers Journal
Topic: Technology 10:47 am EST, Feb 16, 2005

New issue (Vol 2 Number 1) of CodeBreaker's Journal has been released. An interesting publication for those interested in lower level programming.

CodeBreakers Journal

Hackers sued for tinkering with Xbox games
Topic: Technology 6:35 am EST, Feb 10, 2005

In the first case of its kind, a California video game maker is suing an entire community of software tinkerers for reverse engineering and modifying Xbox games that they legally purchased.

Hackers sued for tinkering with Xbox games

Online banking victim files suit; $90,000 lifted from account traced to Latvia
Topic: Technology 6:58 pm EST, Feb  9, 2005

A Miami businessman is suing Bank of America over $90,000 he says was stolen from his online banking account in a case that highlights the thorny question of who is responsible when a customer's computer is hacked into.

Online banking victim files suit; $90,000 lifted from account traced to Latvia

Google Maps
Topic: Technology 12:06 pm EST, Feb  8, 2005

[Google Maps is extremely cool. Great interface. The maps are very good, however they are missing a few things, such as the direction of one way streets. It also does not support Safari yet.]

There also does not appear to be any indication at all of the scale factor. This somewhat limits the usefulness of the maps. That said, the graphical display of the map is very clean and nice to look at, and scrolling around without an http reload is really nice.

Google Maps

RE: Leading Shiite Clerics Pushing Islamic Constitution in Iraq
Topic: Current Events 5:50 pm EST, Feb  6, 2005

adam wrote:
] Ahh yes, Democracy, so long as it doesn't violate Islamic law.
] You think Bush's "mandate from the people" has caused some
] aggressive policy proposals? This 3 page NYTs article
] discusses what the leading (and very conservative) Shiite
] Ayatollahs plan to do with their "mandate," and it has very
] little to do with freedom or equality. It haseverything to do
] with as Islamic of a state is possible.

I'm not sure we should project western ideals and morals upon other groups of people. It seems to me that little of this was a surprise; certainly there's never been any chance whatsoever of a real seperation between religion and the state a la the west. In the sense that the people as a whole are (indirectly) electing their leaders, it has everything to do with freedom. As for equality, I don't think it was ever about that.

The real question is: do we think a nation should have the right to elect a government which may have ideals in terms of equality (particularly gender equality) that are vastly different than ours? If the answer is no, then how can we truly say we believe in democracy?

RE: Leading Shiite Clerics Pushing Islamic Constitution in Iraq

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