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The perils of search engines in the wrong hands

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 15:42

Last weekend I was talking to friends about the risk of search engines releasing information - any information - about your searches on-line, and unintended consequences, such as insurance companies changing the premium on your life insurance based on knowing that you have searched for information on a known disease.

This was an interesting discussion because it was timely. What if a person searching on you is not qualified to assess the value or quality of the information retrieved?


Andrew Feldmar, a Vancouver psychotherapist, was on his way to pick up a friend at the Seattle airport last summer when he ran into a little trouble at the border.

A guard typed Mr. Feldmar’s name into an Internet search engine, which revealed that he had written about using LSD in the 1960s in an interdisciplinary journal. Mr. Feldmar was turned back and is no longer welcome in the United States, where he has been active professionally and where both of his children live.

Mr. Feldmar, 66, has a distinguished résumé, no criminal record and a candid manner.


This is not the first time I read about border guards searching people's names on Google and deciding to turn the visitor away based on those results. But what if someone has been the victim of a Google Bomb?








Things to remember: keyboards don't like coffee

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 11:19

I've been using computers for longer than 25 years now... And this is the first time it happened: coffee spill!

Note to self: keyboards don't like coffee spills.

Off to get a replacement for my Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. And I am really tempted to get a Logitech slim keyboard.



Life in prison for Attempted Copyright Infringement?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 10:12

As fark.com would say "After solving all problems", the guys froms the lobby groups (MPAA, RIAA) and the U.S. Attorney General, seem to have lost the plot, according to CNET:


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including "attempts" to commit piracy.

"To meet the global challenges of IP crime, our criminal laws must be kept updated," Gonzales said during a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Monday.

The Bush administration is throwing its support behind a proposal called the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, which is likely to receive the enthusiastic support of the movie and music industries, and would represent the most dramatic rewrite of copyright law since a 2005 measure dealing with prerelease piracy.

Here's our podcast on the topic.

The IPPA would, for instance:

* Criminalize "attempting" to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department's summary of the legislation says: "It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.")

* Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. Anyone using counterfeit products who "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

* Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are "attempting" to infringe copyrights.

* Add penalties for "intended" copyright crimes. Certain copyright crimes currently require someone to commit the "distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period of at least 10 copies" valued at more than $2,500. The IPPA would insert a new prohibition: actions that were "intended to consist of" distribution.

 



I will stop here... It's too much bull stuff coming out of there. I mean, they have other pressing issues at the moment, such as a whole war going on, unemployement, internal medical aid and more. And they propose life for copyright infringement? Wholy... The values are distorted somehow somewhere...



China launches Nigerian satellite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:59

According to the BBC, China has launched a Nigerian satellite, to provide broadcasting and broadband services to African nations.

How many more 419 scam e-mails will be landing in your inbox from now on?





A killer application for mobile: aangel

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:35

I first saw and used Aangel in May 2004. You can read my brief review with a couple of screenshots, published back then.

In short it's a service that allows you to call a number from your mobile phone, dictate a task, reminder, contact details or appointment and have the information sent to your mobile as a SMS - and the SMS can also come as a vcal or vcard attachment so it's automatically entered on your phone's database. You also receive an e-mail with a wave file and your recording, for the records.

Just now I read that Jott has received some funding. Jott seems to be very similar to aangel, except that it doesn't seem to send the SMS, but it allows jotted messages to be sent to yourself, or to a group.

Aangel is just another example of mobile services that are developed outside the U.S. but are not known outside their original market.

I first noticed Jott on Scobble's "Killer app for cell phones: Jott" post.

By the way, I hear Aangel is in negotiations with Telecom New Zealand. They currently offer the service only to Vodafone customers, but they may extend access to the service to Telecom users as well. Stay tuned.




Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta exclusive shots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 15:20

The Xbox Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta is not starting for another couple of days, but I was invited for a sneak peek preview of this new game, and below are some photographs of Microsoft's Xbox 360 Lounge setup.

First some informaton on this beta. Players will have access to Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta from Wednesday 16 May 2007 5am PDT through 6 June 2007 11:59 PM PDT.

The Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta will only work on Xbox Live and only allows Matchmaking play. You will not be able to play any custom of offline games.

The following will be included in the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta:

- Three new multiplayer maps: Snowbound, High Ground and Valhalla;

- New weapons sch as the Magnum M6G Pistol, Assault Rifle MA5C ICWS, Brute Spiker Type 25 Carbine, Spike Grenades, Spartan Laser WAV M6 GGNR, Machinegun Turret AIE 486H HMG and Missile Pods (you can see some of the guns in my previous post);

- The Mongoose M274 ULATV is a fast two-man ATM for transport across the battlefield and while it doesn't come with any weaponry the passenger is free to use any equipped weapons;

- Several new equipments such as the Bubble Shield, Portable Grav Lift, Trip Mine and Energy Drainer;

- Improved Matchmaking and Party System;

- After each multiplayer game players will be able to save a film of their last match and watch it locally or upload it. While this is limited to a first person real-time playback only during the beta, the final version will allow full control of the camera. The Save Film option can be played back on HD 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1. A long game may use about 6 MB of space and Microsoft is making 25 MB available during the beta.

The download is about 900 MB and wll be available from the Marketplace if you have a beta code, or through the Downloads section when you insert the Crackdown game.

A new Party Up feature allows games to vote and party up at the end of each game, so they can continue to play as a single party in future games.

Below are some pictures I snapped during the session today:



















I also managed to take a couple of pictures of the upcoming Halo 2 for Windows Vista:






All very exciting, but I am really waiting for Shadowrun for Windows Vista, which will allow PC gamers to interact and play against and with people online on Xbox Live.




Halo 3 screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 16:58

Just after I posted about my upcoming trip for the exclusive preview of Halo 3 beta, I found the Halo 3 beta press pack... Here are a few images from that archive:






















Xero IPO

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 10:51

The guys at Xero are announcing their IPO in the NZX. The offer opens this Monday 14 May, closing at the end of the month. The listing date is 5 June 2007. All information and investors' prospectus are available now.

Xero is accounting with web 2.0 technologies. Think of an on-line accounting package full of Ajax, flash charts, moving timelines, integration with banking systems and more technology goodness.

Rod Drury did a demo during the Kiwi Foo Camp and since then launched an open beta. I've joined the service which is aimed at small and medium business companies and individuals, with plans to launch in the UK pretty soon as well.

At the Kiwi Foo Camp we were also told about the new offline features coming in Mozilla 3.0 and that got Rod thinking about new future features for Xero.

Xero is another example of kiwi technical abilities, and was developed here in Wellington.



Xbox 360: Halo 3 preview coming soon

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2007 19:15

I've got an invitation to visit the Microsoft offices in Auckland this Monday 14 May, for an exclusive sneak peek at HALO 3 beta in their Xbox 360 Lounge.

The beta officially opens 17 May, for people who bought the Crackdown game with the beta key. HALO3 beta will be available for download from Xbox LIVE.

This is the invitation I received:


This preview is only available on Monday 14 May so it will be a great opportunity for us to have a look at this. I will try to bring some pictures to the blog.



TelstraClear answers to the metering fault with cable modem service

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2007 10:06

Regarding my post yesterday, about my surprise with an e-mail from my cable modem provider TelstraClear charging my connection to 15TB traffic, here is an e-mail from TelstraClear received this morning:


Please be reassured that customers will not be billed, via direct debit or otherwise, for the fault yesterday with the usage meter.

We are sending an e-mail out to all customers affected within the next 24 hours explaining the issue we had with the usage e-mail, reassuring them that they won't be billed for this and apologising for any inconvenience.


This is the official communication and I can only assume this is how it will happen.

The issue affected almost everyone using the cable modem service - there were cases of people going home to turn the modem off, fearing their connections were hacked and someone was using it to distribute software or download content over their wireless routers. A long discussion is evolving in our Geekzone forums.






freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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