Congress Finds Rare Unity in Spam, to a Point: At a time when lawmakers are sharply divided on everything from Arctic oil drilling to Medicare drug benefits, spam has emerged as a powerful bipartisan issue. [...] In this case, spam frustrates everyone - Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural residents alike. Lawmakers themselves are consumers with overflowing in-boxes. Crises also cut across partisan politics. Spam, the consensus says, has reached a crisis point - consuming an estimated 40 percent of all e-mail traffic. Technology solutions have not been a panacea. As a result, various other business interest groups (with the exception of the spammers themselves) that might normally defend the free play of market forces have converged in support of some kind of federal regulation. Technology companies, which traditionally eschew intervention from Washington, now fear the economic potential of the Internet will drown in the vast volumes of spam. Microsoft, America Online, Earthlink, eBay and Yahoo have rallied behind a fairly stringent Senate antispam bill sponsored by Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, and Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. And even the marketers have repositioned themselves.
How do I know who you are?: If your eyes move too fast, or are damaged, forget it. If you've got an extra finger, forget it. And being bald could turn you invisible. People are the problem for the new biometrics that governments are under pressure to use as global security systems get tougher.
MSNBOT - The Bot From Redmond Anonymous Source on MSNBot: MSN Search is currently the #3 search engine by queries worldwide. It's also the most profitable unit at Microsoft by headcount (they have less than 50 people and did $150 million in profit last year). MSNBOT - The MSN Search Prototype Web Crawler MSN search bot a glimpse of ambitions: In preparation for unveiling its own algorithmic search engine, Microsoft's MSN has quietly launched software that will index Web sites, a move that raises questions about MSN's relationship with Yahoo subsidiary Inktomi.
Robots without a cause: Thanks to the newest wonders of technology we can get robots to do our vacuuming, transmit pictures on our mobile phones and unlock our cars (and adjust their seats) merely by touching them. In the face of this wizardry, Stuart Jeffries has only one question: why? [...] "I like to call it a Faustian bargain," says Neil Postman, professor of media ecology at New York University. "This means that for every advantage that a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage. The disadvantage may exceed in importance the advantage, or the advantage may well be worth the cost. Think of the automobile, which, for all its obvious advantages, has poisoned our air, choked our cities and degraded the beauty of our natural landscape." You don't have to be a neo-Luddite to be queasy about the current tenor of technological innovation. You only have to ask yourself: "Do I need that?" or "Will this make me happier?" about a new gadget. And very often you'll find that the answer is no.
EU Improves Software Patent, But Outlaws Amazon One Click: A European Parliament committee Tuesday moved toward setting the first pan-European standard for software patents, but outlawed the U.S. practice of patenting "business methods," such as Amazon.com Inc.'s one-click Internet shopping.
The New Pet Craze: Robovacs: Just as owners of robot pets like Sony's Aibo develop emotional attachments to their mechanical companions, people are acquiring similar feelings for their robot vacuum cleaners. The two leading robovac manufacturers - iRobot and Electrolux - report that owners treat their robovacs somewhat like pets. More than half the owners of iRobot's Roomba name their device, claims the Burlington, Massachussetts, company. Owners often talk to their machines, and many treat them as though they were alive, or semi-sentient, anyway. Some even take them on holiday, unwilling to leave them at home alone. [...] Scientists believe that robot pets trigger a hard-wired nurturing response in humans. It appears robot vacuums tap into the same instincts. MIT anthropologist Sherry Turkle, one of the leading researchers in the field, is conducting studies on how children perceive smart toys like the Aibo, Furby, Tamagotchi and My Real Baby. She says humans are programmed to respond in a caring way to creatures, even brand-new artificial ones.
Spam Wars: The proliferation of junk e-mail is threatening to overwhelm the Internet. Software companies are rushing to build defenses - but will the new technologies do more harm than good? Can E-Mail Be Saved? Barry Shein is founder, president and CEO of the company that launched the first commercial dial-up Internet service. Dave Crocker authored or contributed to most of the technical standards that makes Internet mail possible. [T]hese two patriarchs of e-mail will discuss what has become of the medium they helped create.
Code on 'spying' on staff emails: Employers must inform staff in advance if they plan to monitor their emails, phone calls and internet use, the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, Employees must be told why the monitoring is being done, and employers must first do an audit to make sure the benefits outweigh the intrusion into privacy. Only in rare cases, involving, for instance, criminal conduct or equivalent malpractice, will covert monitoring be justified, according to the code of guidance issued yesterday.
U.S. extends its hegemony over the Net: In recent years, the world has begun to grapple with Internet policies that are established in one jurisdiction (typically, though not solely, the U.S.), but applied worldwide. That policy imbalance has left many countries resentful of foreign dominance of the Internet. Internet governance and the domain name system effectively illustrate this phenomenon.
Wired Magazine Story to Detail Slammer Web Attack: Wired magazine is planning to publish the underlying code for the Slammer worm that slowed Internet traffic to a crawl in January, raising questions over whether such articles inspire future hackers or educate potential victims.
EU Squabble May Sink Planned Cybercrime Agency: Plans for a European agency to tackle cybercrime such as computer viruses and terror attacks may be scuppered by bureaucracy because governments want to monitor it too tightly, EU officials said on Wednesday. The European Network and Information Security Agency, which would play a key advisory role to the 15 EU governments on how to combat Web-related threats, was expected to be up and running by the end of this year. However member states now say they want to directly appoint members of the management board, which would oversee the work of the agency. They are also seeking to axe a planned advisory panel meant to give voice to the industry, EU officials said.
Big Brother and the next 50 years: Bruce Sterling calls himself an author, a journalist and an editor--and all that is true. But Sterling, who wrote "The Hacker Crackdown," is also a contrarian and a leading cultural critic of modern technology.
Girls Teach Teen Cyber Gab to FBI Agents: For those investigative details, the FBI calls on Karen, Mary and Kristin -- Howard County eighth-graders and best friends. During the past year, the three have been teaching agents across the country how to communicate just like teenage girls, complete with written quizzes on celebrity gossip and clothing trends and assigned reading in Teen People and YM magazines. The first time the girls gave a quiz, all the agents failed. "They, like, don't know anything," said Mary, 14, giggling. [...] Probably the youngest instructors ever in an FBI classroom, the girls have become an invaluable help to Operation Innocent Images -- an initiative that tries to stop people from peddling child pornography or otherwise sexually exploiting children, FBI officials said. The Washington Post agreed to withhold the girls' last names to protect them from harassment on the Internet and elsewhere.
Software Piracy Said to Decline in 2002: Worldwide piracy of business software products like Microsoft Office declined slightly in 2002 because of better education and more aggressive tactics in stopping Internet piracy, software industry officials say. The downturn follows two years of increases blamed in part on the rise of distributing illegal copies online, according to a study released Tuesday by the Business Software Alliance.
Microsoft Time Warner? Is the recent truce between Microsoft and AOL Time Warner really that meaningful? An AOL-Microsoft Goliath? Don't Bet on It Their pact doesn't oblige AOL to use Microsoft's wares, nor would such a move establish an online standard for delivering music and movies [act.:] A big deal: A settlement between two old rivals may have great significance How Much Will Microsoft Help? The Breakup Scenario Steve Case's Second Act Ted's poor timing
Software On-Demand, Pricing by the Byte? On-demand is the next progression from the client-server era of computing to a more distributed model of offering utility-like data center computing services to corporate customers. The positioning for on-demand computing services, utility-style, also reflects the IT industry's profit margin shift to higher-value, value-added technology such as software and services. But are enterprise application vendors prepared to price their products by bits and bytes, or recognize revenue in dribs and drabs as customers order up spurts of software-enabled seats across an enterprise?
Police concerned over teen game addiction: Police are determined to deal with an alarming trend towards children becoming addicted to a violent internet game. An internet cafe has banned two 13-year-old "junkies", who, it was claimed, had broken into 40 taxis over six weeks to pay for habits which culminated in a four-day gaming binge. The 24-hour Wellington cafe, E-Joy, told police the boys had occasionally slept there after falling asleep playing Counter-Strike, one of the world's most popular online tactical war games.
Spamology: In 1937, an Austin, Minn.-based company called Hormel Foods held a contest. Hormel's Spiced Ham, it seems, needed a new name - something "as distinctive as the taste," the company's official history goes. The winner was one Kenneth Daigneau, a Broadway actor and, ahem, brother to a Hormel executive. He took home $100 and gave the world Spam. Sixty years later, Hormel was trying to prevent the name of its product from leaking into the popular lexicon as a label for, of all things, electronic junk mail. In a 1997 letter, Hormel demanded that Sanford Wallace, who ran a huge bulk e-mailing business under domain names like spamford.com and spamford.net, "cease and desist from all further use of the trademark Spam." "You can more responsibly refer to your business as bulk e-mail or by similar longstanding terminology," the letter said. The spammer was unmoved. "If your client objects to the use of `spam' to refer to my client's business," Mr. Wallace's lawyers responded, "it's far too late to change the vocabulary of 25 million Internet users." Today, spamford.net and spamford.com are gone, but the lawyers were right.