, 'opacity': false, 'speedIn': , 'speedOut': , 'changeSpeed': , 'overlayShow': false, 'overlayOpacity': "", 'overlayColor': "", 'titleShow': false, 'titlePosition': '', 'enableEscapeButton': false, 'showCloseButton': false, 'showNavArrows': false, 'hideOnOverlayClick': false, 'hideOnContentClick': false, 'width': , 'height': , 'transitionIn': "", 'transitionOut': "", 'centerOnScroll': false }); }) HazDat
15Mar/12

How tiny antennae threaten to upset the balance of power

Damn the Lawsuits — It’s Full Speed Ahead for Aereo In New York

NEW YORK — Aereo, the startup which aims to rock the TV world by renting you a remote high definition antenna that allows you to watch and record broadcasts via a web browser, launched Wednesday despite lawsuits which allege that the company is violating the copyrights of broadcasters who own the programming.

Two lawsuits have been filed against Aereo (and it has filed a counterclaim of its own) but there is no court injunction preventing the launch, so here we go. In what is perhaps a little tweak at the broadcasters who are trying to shut Aereo down — or just good business of the “first taste is free” variety — Aereo takes to the airwaves with a 90-day free trial, up from the 30 days initially planned. After that 90 days, it’ll cost New Yorkers $12 a month to get the roughly 20 channels broadcasting in this market in HD.

That is, assuming Aereo is still around in 90 days.

The suits against the start-up, whose backers include broadcast veteran Barry Diller, allege that Aereo is blatantly violating the copyrights of broadcasters who air shows that are otherwise available generally only via cable and satellite middlemen, or if you have your own HD antenna attached to a TV set. Aereo contends it has the legal right to provide this service because its potential customers a) have the right to these broadcasts, made available as they are on publicly-owned airwaves and b) have the right to put an antenna anywhere they want to pull in these signals for our own, personal, non-commercial use.

Aereo essentially says it is merely enabling legal private behavior, and charging for that convenience.

Copyright is a justifiably powerful tool which often trumps all — and I am no lawyer — but I’ve already made clear that I find Aereo’s theory compelling. That said, I’m fantastically interested in how the arguments on both sides will be made. Either way this case will change things: Someone is going to do what Aereo is doing, even if it’s only the broadcasters who didn’t bother to, first.

Via http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2012/03/johncabell/

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7Jun/11

Apple’s New Low Cost Gaming Console

First, I AM NOT a fanboy. My phone is an Android. Even when the iPhone was introduced, I steadfastly held onto my WindowsMobile phone, waiting for Palm to introduce something better. I have a Windows7 PC, laptop, AND netbook. When the iPad was first released, I thought it was gorgeous, but lacking. And, it was. Apple introduced an improved model a few months later, and a thinner, even more improved model less than a year later. Admittedly, I bought that one. And I love it. But I owned two Windows tablets well before the iPad was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye. So I was predisposed, even before Jobs said it was the Next Big Thing.

Today at E3 in Los Angeles Nintendo showed the world the Wii U. Which looks and sounds like the birth-child of an Apple iPad and a LeapFrog LeapPad. (Yes, we own a LeapPad.) This, on the heels of Apple's WWDC where they emphasized major changes to Game Center that make it more XBox Live than Yahoo Games. At the same time, quietly and without any significant emphasis, Apple announced AirPlay Mirroring. Which, at first blush, sounds like someone accidentally left a slide in the Keynote deck from last year's WWDC. But, in reality, mated to a $99 Apple TV 2, it turns the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch into an accelerometer-equipped wireless TV gaming console (minus the console).

But, I'm not buying each of my kids a $499 iPad, when I already spent $249 on the Wii 4 years ago. And then I spent $179 each for two DSi's a couple years later. Plus, each one of the Wii game disks cost me between $30-$50, and then each one of my kids' DSi cartridges cost me another $20-30. And, if they want to play each other, I have to buy two of the same game! Worse yet, once they've conquered a particular game, it's useless.

Do the math. If I'm lucky, I'm only into it for a grand, or so. Now Apple's going to try to get in on the game? Apple has been focusing more recently on price, but their products are not what I'd call the "budget option."

Even if I just bought each of the kids the cheapest iPod Touch, that would still be $210 a piece. Plus every game is going to be another $0.99 to $5.99. And then there's the Apple TV 2 for another $99. That would be close to $500, just to replace what they already have.

On the other hand, that is half what I spent on Nintendo products. And it means that every game they purchased could be played on or off the TV. Going forward, they could purchase anywhere from as little as 3 to as many as 40 times the number of games for the same money as a single cartridge or disk. Of course, the AppStore only has a little over 60,000 to choose from, compared to around 2000 total Wii and DSi titles. And, there's another 35,000 or so iOS educational apps. Each of which could never be lost or damaged -- even if the whole device was lost or damaged. And, by purchasing the apps from the same account, everyone in the house can play the same game, at the same time, together or apart, for just one single purchase.  It doesn't hurt either that the iTouch does more than play games. My son, for instance, could use the calendar for scheduling. And both my kids would love to have an MP3 player. Which, again, would allow them to share music under the same account. There are dictionary and thesaurus, flash cards, SAT prep, and other good apps. Plus, the Apple TV 2 also has a few tricks, other than being a slave to iPad, iTouch, and iPhone. It's certainly a competent media player and Netflix tuner (even before jailbreaking).

Until yesterday, I might have been worried that they'd fight over a computer to sync. But, come Fall, not only will that be unnecessary, but -- with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard and the Apple TV -- each practically becomes its OWN computer, portable and home video and MP3 player (also capable of wirelessly streaming from my iTunes library), handheld game machine, gaming console, PDA, and videoconferencing device. To do it up right: $210 iTouch, $99 ATV, add a nice screen for less than $200, and a $69 Bluetooth keyboard. Effectively, the same price as purchasing each of them a desktop computer, but one that fits in their pockets. Even the Apple TV 2 is pocket-sized.

Fine! I take back what I said about the "budget option."

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6Feb/11

Verizon’s iPhone Commercials Are So Snarky, You’d Think They’ve Been Stuck on AT&T For the Last 4 Years


Once again, Verizon isn't pulling any punches. I caught this commercial during the SuperBowl. Though there are actual differences between the iPhones sold on At&T and Verizon networks -- some favoring Verizon, and at least one, that I know of, favoring AT&T -- Verizon has chosen to make it all about The Network.


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11Jan/11

Winona Ryder Fears Accidentally Opting-Into Al Queda

Careful What You Click F

Actress Winona Ryder doesn't use the Internet. She just got her first smartphone, but finds it unpredictable. She had a laptop, but rarely used it.

She's fearful of technology. And that just might make her smarter than you.

As evidenced in her "Late Night" interview with Jimmy Fallon, these days, such concerns are the fodder for comedians. It's the current equivalent of being afraid to drive or swim. In the late 20th. Century, it might have been a fear of handing one's money over to an ATM machine. Or more recently, making a purchase online. But, well over 30,000 people died in car accidents in 2009. Another 24,000 were injured. In a similar period, more that 3000 people died from drowning. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Not if it keeps you safe.

Most of us either fear what we don't know, or fear what we do. There's also a whole complicated subset of irrational, or misguided fears that really fall into the first category. According to her own interview, Ryder falls into the former classification.

Ryder told Fallon, "We're a button away from joining Al Queda!"

How many times have you accidentally opted yourself into joining a mailing list because you forgot to un-approve your pre-approved consent? What about that time when you accidentally installed a bunch of "trial-ware" that came along with a program you legitimately wanted to use. Somewhere, before or after the end-user-license agreement you didn't read, it may have been an option. In the 90's one of my attorney-client's accidentally sold a good investment when he was dabbling with online day trading. I have met people who accidentally purchased cars on eBay. Meanwhile, I promise (though I don't recommend confirming it) that many forms of contraband are just a few clicks, or even a typo, away from where you sit this very moment. Last Summer I gave National Public Radio (NPR) a glimpse into just how easy it can be. Even if you bleed apple pie filling, you're still just a click away from looking like someone else.

I haven't tried it myself, but I'll bet joining Al Queda requires, at least, the completion of an annoying CAPTCHA in order to submit a membership application.  While I'm sure Ryder has no interest in joining, just the accusation, or even a rumor, that she ever supported a terrorist organization, or had some other frighting interest, could be just as detrimental. Remember Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Party's most famous witch? In some parts of the country that's harder to understand than extremism.

Ryder: "We're a button away from joining Al Queda."

Remember, Ryder works in the industry that was most famously asked, "Are you, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

Maybe -- even if unwittingly -- she's on to something. Maybe we'd have several thousand fewer vehicular deaths every year if more drivers understood the engineering that goes into the highway, or a car, it's tires, or even just its brakes and safety systems. Sure, it might scare a few people out of driving altogether. But it might make the rest think a little harder before they accelerated into a turn, or tried to beat a red light across a wet intersection. Maybe, if more people really understood the Internet better before hopping on the "Information Superhighway", law enforcement might have fewer accidents to investigate.

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14Mar/10

FTC Queues-in on Netflix Member Privacy

Attn. MPAA: There are much worse ways to copy movies than with a computer.

In 2007 prosecutors in Anchorage Alaska accused 34 year old stripper Mechele Linehan of plotting a murder based on the 1994 movie "The Last Seduction". Life so closely imitated art, said prosecutors, that they even tried to have the movie played for the jury.

Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto

In 2008 a teenager confessed that he was trying to imitate scenes from the video game "Grand Theft Auto" when he robbed a murdered a taxicab driver in Bangkok Thailand. Movies like "The Deer Hunter" (1978) are even believed to have inspired several "copycat" suicides in the late 1970's and early 80's.

All of this may seem like fodder for censorship advocates, but that debate has largely come and gone in favor preserving the First Amendment's right to free speech. Wise as the framers of the U.S. Constitution may have been, few would accuse them of being clairvoyant. After all, who could have predicted the impact the Internet would some day have on both the precept of free speech and the concept of privacy?

Though many speak of the "right to privacy", it is not, at least as far as the U.S. Constitution is concerned, a right at all. It is, nonetheless, an ethos that has long been coveted by Americans, and is implicit in the Fourth Amendment's:

...right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...

Of course, mention the term "search" to most people today, and it's far more likely to conjure thoughts of friends lists", home pages and e-books, than actual people, houses and papers. And while, in just the past few years, popular culture has come to embrace the sharing of intimate, private and personal details with virtual strangers, the desire to remain "secure" seems to be very much alive in the 21st Century. In fact, more than any other, the Fourth Amendment has played a central, albeit contested, role in the litigation of hi-tech criminal evidence.

I know what you watched last summer...

So, what does all this have to do with your Netflix queue? Though Americans, and many other people around the world, may be willing to voluntarily divulge personal information, either in trade for modern conveniences and services, or increasingly, for a sense of online significance, we're not quite as enthusiastic when it's taken from us and shared without any tangible return. It's no longer a secret that the monetary value of data has been pre-calculated into the return on investment (ROI) of so many of today's business models, but consumers still tend to expect a certain level of security. In recent years the bar has been set pretty low. Still, it may surprise many to learn that "anonymous" usage data can be deciphered into personally-identifiable intelligence, as proven by a pair of researchers at the University of Texas using what was thought to be anonymous user data provided to contestants in the three-year $1 million "Netflix Prize" to improve the site's recommendation results.

The UT's results brought both unwanted attention from the Federal Trade Commission and a lawsuit from a private firm, resulting in Netflix's decision last week to cancel a planned sequel to the prize awarded last year.

It's not hard to imagine how this sort of data could be exploited to peddle shoes to people who have rented all six seasons of "Sex in the City", or BestBuy ads targeted at fans of NBC's "Chuck".

Dreamworks Minority Report (2002)

It's no longer extraordinary to see similar data exploited in the process of investigating crimes either. Certainly the viewing interests and habits of the individuals mentioned above have been considered relevant discovery by law enforcement. In these cases, there's little, if anything, to decipher.  Anything that Netflix knows about you, your account, and your viewing habits, is subject to a warrant, and, with or without much imagination, could be incriminating. How many of us haven't seen a good fictional car case, a well-written murder plot, a scripted street-fight, or a perfectly executed crime? The consumption of such fiction could be hazardous to your defense, if it proceeds similar accusations.

Now, imagine the same evidence available to anyone, without a warrant, subpoena, or probable cause. Perhaps someone at the FTC had the movie "Minority Report" in their queue.

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12Oct/09

OT: Verizon — Oh no you di’nt!

It's rare that I clap for [watch] TV commercials. But Verizon just took AT&T to the mat -- er, map.

Technically, this is off-topic, but I think I can apply a little broad discretion when it comes to bad data -- That is, the data that every U.S. cell phone company uses to claim to be the best.

I know I spend a lot of time picking on Apple -- especially the the iPhone. But when something falls just short of great, it leaves room for criticism. That, however, doesn't describe Apple's choice of service partner. Verizon customers love their coverage. T-Mobile customers love their customer service. Sprint customers love their features (and free 3G roaming to Verizon). AT&T customers love their iPhones, and tolerate their service. Now Verizon is taking them to the map.

Watch and see what I mean.

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17Sep/09

“Blood in the Birdcage” (Forensics: You Decide, Discovery Channel)

Investigation_Discovery_300One body. One suspect. Two theories. A laptop. A birdcage. A bloody crime scene. Two trials. Two hung juries. No convictions. One unsolved mystery.

From Investigation Discovery:

"When a beloved music professor -- David Stagg -- discovers the dead body of his long-time partner, Bill Jennings, he claims he's walked into the aftermath of a tragic suicide. But as investigators descend on the scene, they immediately realize that this reported suicide is clearly a homicide. Is it possible the professor is behind this vicious crime, or has he been falsely accused? The forensic experts on each side battle it out. Which side will you agree with?" (60 min. - First aired 9/14/2009 on Investigation Discovery / Discovery ID's "Forensics: You Decide)

Suicide letter, or coverup?

Suicide letter, or coverup?

Friends from the couple's active social group were in total disbelief. Few could imagine David Stagg involved in the murder of his long-time partner. Forensic evidence was inconclusive. Though blood evidence was found throughout the crime scene, no blood or defensive wounds could be found on David Stagg. An unknown set of fingerprints were found at the scene. Computer evidence from Jennings' laptop showed--at least from Jennings' perspective--a tumultuous relationship. But, enough to justify a motive for murder?

There were also a series of suicidal emails and typed letters left by Jennings that charted a history of both love for Stagg, and deep emotional turmoil. And, one final letter--typed on April 24, 2004, the night of the murder--would become one of the most contested pieces of evidence that two juries would have to consider.

On one thing, both sides agreed: Bill Jennings did not take his own life. ... CONTINUE READING »

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12Sep/09

Germany, you’ve been Punk’d!

You've been punked!!!

You've been punked!!!

How German filmmakers hijacked part of California, stole its identity, and used it to scam an entire country.

I think I've finally figured out the origin of the expression, "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you": Bluewater, California.

The "bridge" to which I refer crosses the Colorado River, and connects Bluewater, California with its sister-city, Bluewater, Arizona. According to the city's web site, downtown Bluewater offers a range of bars and restaurants where you can dine on seafood fished from local waters, get locally-grown produce from the Farmer's Market every Wednesday and Saturday, and enjoy summer poetry in the park.

Imagine the shock when KVPK7, Bluewater's own local news channel reported that the tiny city had become the target of an attempted suicide bombing ... CONTINUE READING »

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19Aug/09

DNA hacking: the ultimate identity theft

DNAIsraeli scientists are declaring war on DNA evidence. According to a paper published today in the journal, Forensic Science International: Genetics, scientists in Tel Aviv have have demonstrated that it is in fact possible to fabricate DNA evidence, opening up an entirely new avenue of reasonable doubt.

As quoted to the New York Times by lead author, Dr. Dan Frumkin, “You can just engineer a crime scene. Any biology undergraduate could perform this.” ... CONTINUE READING »

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14Aug/09

Reality TV fans: This is your chance to be on TV’s Big Brother

CBS TV's Big Brother

CBS TV's Big Brother

OK, I'll admit it: I'm a reality TV junkie--including, but not limited to, CBS's Big Brother. (Go ahead, laugh, tease, ridicule. I can handle it.) And, now I come to find Big Brother is a fan of me!

Almost any night of the week, America tunes in to see good looking people who gave up their mundane lives and mediocre livelihoods for a chance have complete strangers watch their every move. If this has always been a dream of yours, I have great news:

Now, you can have complete strangers watch your every move! You don't have to be good looking, and you don't even have to give up your mundane life or mediocre livelihood.

What's the secret? It's called PrimeSense. PrimeSense is a revolutionary set-top box (STB) which, according to the company's web site, "allows a computer to perceive the world in 3D and derive an understanding of the world based on sight, just the way humans do. The device includes a sensor, which sees a user (including their complete surroundings), and a digital component, or 'brain' which learns and understands user movement within those surroundings."

George Orwell's "1984"

George Orwell's "1984"

According to CableFAX, a cable industry publication, a "chip resides in a camera on the STB that provides something similar to thermal images, showing how many people are in front of the TV, etc."

PrimeSense was voted Best New Product Idea at CableLabs' Innovation Showcase in Denver, CO. CableLabs (Cable Television Laboratories, Inc.) is a non-profit research and development consortium founded in 1988 by cable operating companies. Votes were cast through informal polling of cable industry executives. Which is good news, if you were hoping to have complete strangers watching your every move. Because, it could be coming to a cable set-top box near you.

Via SlashDot (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/08/11/2236252/Sensor-To-Monitor-TV-Watchers-Demoed-At-Cable-Labs?from=rss)

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