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Old 15-06-06, 11:27 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - June 17th, ’06

"I've got good news and bad news and good news. And the good news is that you [media] guys have managed to buy every major legislative body on the planet, and the courts are even with you. So you've done a great job there and you should congratulate yourself. But - the bad news is that you're up against a dedicated foe that is younger and smarter that you are and will be alive when you're dead. You're 55 years old and these kids are 17 and they're just smarter than you. So you're gonna lose that one. But the good news is that you guys are mean sons of bitches and you've been figuring out ways of ripping off audiences and artists for centuries....." – John Perry Barlow

"Yahoo is already handing over information about their customers – they cooperate with the Chinese on a regular basis." – Julien Pain

"The police and the prosecutors do not understand anything about what is going on, and after their 10 day crash course they will hardly understand any more. But at least they admit that they don't have any competence on this field today." – Rickard Olsson

"I am continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." – Jon Callas

"Here's the point. For over a year, Microsoft has planted a program on every modern Windows-powered PC that reported home every day. They don't have an intelligent reason, never mind a good one, for this move. And, they never told anyone that they were doing this.

I guess it must do a darn good job of hiding itself from firewalls and network monitoring tools too since we've only now found out this daily checkup call after tens of millions of PCs have been phoning in for almost a year."
– Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

"We were shameless." – Steve Beeks

"You read all this empty trash to entertain your bored soul and then decide to get weepy? HA. That's funny." – gigi

"Google is like the Borg." – Milo Medin

"No one says the 'G' word. It's a little bit like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in Harry Potter." – Diane Sherwood

"What's the option? To live not fully? To be afraid of living? Because people like us - we need this." – Marta Empinotti-Pouchert

"Bill Gates redefined the software industry and redefined the computer industry. His retirement from a full-time role is a huge milestone, and it marks the end of this era." – Rob Glaser

Summer School

The blowback continues from this month's Pirate Bay raid. Directly from both Sweden and Holland, and in an ever growing political movement that promises to refocus the arguments surrounding peer-to-peer and copyrights, voices of users and prosecution victims alike are being added to the file-sharing debate for the first time in history.

The copyright cartels are claiming success in educating users about the alleged criminality of P2P, and it's certainly true that long before even the courts weighed in with their often contradictory decisions the media companies added the judgment "illegal" to nearly every story ever written about file-sharing, but now it's the lawmakers' turn to learn. They are beginning to hear from another side in this debate, and the message is clear: the entire structure of copyright law can be seen as an edifice of legalized theft created to take from artists and the public, diverting cultural resources from the people to a handful of corporations. The whole system is so patently unjust it won’t stand even the mildest scrutiny, and now that a light is being trained upon both the laws and the lawmakers, expect to see a rapid slate of superficial proposals that attempt little beyond the burnishing of legislators' abysmal reputations.

Most of these proposals will of course be obvious for what they are; self-serving clap-trap about empowerment and emancipation with little in the way of substance even remotely beneficial to citizens. They should be rigorously protested and rejected by the newly organized user movements. Eventually, against the inertia of intransigent legislatures and the extra-legal machinations of hostile lobbyists, progressive ideas will emerge and we will begin to see nuanced proposals making the rounds of Parliaments. It is at this point we must be at our most attentive.



June 17th, ’06

U.S. Joins Industry in Piracy War

Nations Pressed On Copyrights
Frank Ahrens

The U.S. government has joined forces with the entertainment industry to stop the freewheeling global bazaar in pirated movies and music, pressuring foreign governments to crack down or risk incurring trade barriers.

Last year, for instance, the movie industry lobby suggested that Sweden change its laws to make it a crime to swap copyrighted movies and music for free over the Internet. Shortly after, the Swedish government complied. Last month, Swedish authorities briefly shut down an illegal file-sharing Web site after receiving a briefing on the site's activities from U.S. officials in April in Washington. The raid incited political and popular backlash in the Scandinavian nation.

In Russia, the government's inability, or reluctance, to shut down another unauthorized file-sharing site may prevent that nation's entrance into the World Trade Organization, as effective action against intellectual property theft tops the U.S. government's list of requirements for Russian WTO membership.

As more residents of more nations get high-speed Internet access -- making the downloading of movies and music fast and easy -- the stakes are higher than ever. The intellectual property industry and law enforcement officials estimate U.S. companies lose as much as $250 billion per year to Internet pirates, who swap digital copies of "The DaVinci Code," Chamillionaire's new album and the latest Grand Theft Auto video game for free.

Such entertainment and other copyright exports -- worth about $626 billion annually, or 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product -- are as important to today's American economy as autos, steel and coal were to yesterday's.

More than a decade of hard lobbying by two powerful trade groups, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), has convinced U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement officials that it's worth using America's muscle to protect movie and music interests abroad. Now, lawmakers are calling the trade groups, asking what else Congress and the government can do for the entertainment industry.

Efforts to stem piracy within the United States by targeting peer-to-peer file-sharing networks have produced mixed results. Kazaa -- once the most popular of them and a hard target of the music industry -- has half as many users as it did at its peak three years ago, thanks in part to the music industry's lawsuit and education campaign. At the same time, the total number of peer-to-peer users has grown in the past year, according to Internet traffic researchers.

Overseas, U.S. government officials say, it is in the national interest to work on behalf of Hollywood and other entertainment and intellectual property industries.

The United States does not offer specific dictates on how other nations handle their border controls, said Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Victoria Espinel, "but they need to have an effective intellectual property system for protecting our rights holders abroad."

The U.S. trade representative's office maintains a "priority watch list" of countries that, in its estimate, do not adequately protect intellectual property rights. China and Russia top the most recent list. Unlike the case with Sweden, U.S. government pressure has brought little change in China, home to perhaps the world's most prolific DVD and CD pirates.

An ongoing battle between Swedish authorities and an illegal file-sharing service called the Pirate Bay can be traced to an April meeting in Washington between the Swedes and the U.S. government.

Officials from the State Department, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. trade representative's office told visitors from the Swedish Ministry of Justice in April that Sweden was harboring one of the world's biggest Web sites for enabling the massive and unauthorized distribution of movies, music and games. It uses a file-swapping technology known as BitTorrent that is tougher to contain than earlier systems such as the original Napster, which the U.S. government shut down in 2001, and popular current peer-to-peer services, such as LimeWire.

A little more than a month later, Swedish police hit the headquarters of the Pirate Bay and closed the site. The MPAA crowed, saying it had helped the effort by filing a criminal complaint against the site.

The raid prompted a backlash of criticism in the Swedish press and from some members of government. Politicians and editorialists wanted to know why America was meddling in Swedish affairs.

Claes Hammar, Swedish minister for trade and economic affairs, said U.S. authorities noted that copyrighted Swedish material, as well as U.S. movies and music, was being stolen on the Pirate Bay.

"We don't like to be seen as negligent and losing out rather than cooperating with the U.S. and other markets," Hammar said.

In the aftermath of the raid, members of the Left and Moderate parties in Sweden have proposed scrapping last year's law that criminalized illegal file-sharing, reported the Local, an English-language newspaper in Sweden.

At the same time, hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Stockholm and Goteborg in recent days, hoisting pirate flags and demanding that the government return the Pirate Bay's seized servers, according to reports.

Several attempts to reach Pirate Bay administrators through the Web site were unsuccessful. They did, however, post a defiant manifesto on a related Web site.

Shut down on May 31, the Pirate Bay moved to the Netherlands and was back up and running three days later, sporting a logo of a pirate ship sinking the word "Hollywood" with a fusillade of cannon fire and demonstrating how difficult it is to stop anything on the Internet.

Dan Glickman, president of the MPAA, confirmed that his group had asked Sweden to toughen its laws on intellectual property theft.

"What we do is look around the world to look if laws need to be improved, then we make suggestions," Glickman said. He emphasized that the MPAA respects the sovereign rights of foreign nations. As for the backlash, Glickman said, "Yes, I'm sure the pirates in Sweden are upset."

Russia's pirates may cost their country more than domestic unrest.

Entrance into the World Trade Organization would grant the country numerous trading benefits. Each of the WTO's 149 members has veto power over accession and each has key demands of applicants.

For the United States, the focus is on intellectual property. And the U.S. wants to make sure the mistake of China is not repeated.

"We let China in and China has not fully complied with the WTO requirements" for protecting intellectual property, Glickman said. The MPAA has an enforcement division in Hong Kong whose members accompany local law enforcement officials on raids. "The time to get action is now, rather than after they get in," Glickman said.

In Russia, CD and DVD pirates have established manufacturing plants on abandoned Soviet military bases, Glickman and RIAA President Mitch Bainwol said. A Web site called Allofmp3.com is selling millions of songs without authorization from copyright holders. The site looks as professional and legal as Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes online music store. It claims to be licensed by a Russian agency to sell music, but U.S. trade groups aren't satisfied. None of the revenue generated from the 10-cent song downloads on the site goes to the artists, Bainwol said.

Moscow began an investigation of Allofmp3.com, dropped it, then picked it back up again after U.S. pressure was applied, said RIAA Executive Vice President Neil Turkowitz, who has traveled several times to Russia and filed criminal complaints with prosecutors there about the site.

"The Russian government is aware of all really existing problems in the [intellectual property] sphere and makes active efforts to solve them step-by-step," the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade wrote in an April paper translated into English. "We will undertake a complex of additional measures in [the intellectual property] sphere in the nearest future with the intention to speed up the work in this sphere."

Two e-mails to the site administrator of Allofmp3.com went unanswered.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Espinel said shutting down Allofmp3.com "is right at the top of the agenda. This is a top-priority issue in terms of our discussion with Russia and the WTO."

As the bilateral talks with Russia continue, congressional leaders are bringing pressure to bear on President Bush, who has vowed to speed that nation's entry into the WTO. Working against Russia, the lawmakers say, are its plans to make intellectual property rights violators subject to civil, rather than criminal, penalties.

The U.S. government and the entertainment industry have a right to raise such issues with foreign nations, the RIAA's Turkowitz said. Movie and music piracy, he said, "is a problem that really doesn't know any borders."

Yahoo 'Strictest' Censor in China
Eli Milchman

Yahoo is stricter than any other search engine in China when enforcing censorship, said a journalism-advocacy group Thursday.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said their tests showed that Yahoo.cn blocked a higher percentage of politically sensitive results than Google.cn or the beta version of msn.cn.

The tests were performed using 10 politically-sensitive keywords like “press freedom” or “human rights” on the Chinese versions of Yahoo, Google and MSN, as well as a Chinese-based search engine, Baidu.

“We simply found out that Yahoo was even worse than its local competitors,” said Julien Pain, RSF Internet Freedom desk chief. “Google.cn is censored, but it’s far less than what Yahoo does.”

Although Yahoo.cn was sold to and is now operated by the Chinese company Alibaba, Yahoo remains a large shareholder.

The report also said Yahoo.cn blocked access to the search engine for an hour in half the cases after a search was conducted using the sensitive keywords. Baidu does the same thing, but the Chinese versions of Google and MSN do not restrict access.

RSF said that the level of censorship on Yahoo.cn also exceeds that of Baidu in terms of the number of Beijing-authorized sites returned in the search results.

“Yahoo has absolutely no respect for freedom of information,” Pain said.

The report follows the widespread blocking of Google.com by the Chinese government around the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and RSF’s subsequent lashing of Google for its compliance with Beijing in censoring Google.cn.

Last year, RSF accused Yahoo.cn of turning over e-mail account information to Chinese authorities that according to RSF resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a man on charges of subversion.

“Yahoo is already handing over information about their customers – they cooperate with the Chinese on a regular basis," Pain said. "Google has so far refused to do this."

Yahoo did not have an immediate comment.

RSF frequently reports on freedom of press issues and the treatment of journalists around the world and has been a steady critic of the Chinese government as well as the internet companies that comply with their censorship demands.

“It’s a huge market, and it’s kind of a turning point," Pain said. "In China you can see these moral dilemmas arising.

"If they do it in China, the battle will be lost – they’ll do it everywhere.”

Companies Sue Sweden Over Pirate Bay Raid

Ten companies which had their servers confiscated during the police's raids against file-sharing site The Pirate Bay plan to demand compensation from the Swedish state.

The companies say they will hand in demands for between 10,000 and 200,000 kronor each to the Chancellor of Justice in Stockholm on Wednesday, amounts that they say correspond to their losses following the raids.

The companies demanding compensation had their servers hosted by PRQ, which also hosted the Pirate Bay. As well as taking the Pirate Bay's own servers police also took servers belonging to a diverse group of unconnected companies and organizations.

Police spokespeople and prosecutor Håkan Roswall have refused to say why they confiscated the other servers.

Police Raid Doubles Pirate Bay's Popularity

The Pirate Bay, one of the world's most popular websites for illegal downloading of movies, has doubled its number of visitors after Swedish police shut down the site for three days, according to an Internet monitoring site, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter said on Sunday.

Swedish authorities closed the site after several raids on May 31. The site reopened three days later using servers in The Netherlands.

Figures released by Alexa.com, a US-based Internet monitoring company, showed that traffic to the Pirate Bay had doubled since the site reopened, Dagens Nyheter said.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the site makes more than 157,000 illegal files available including recent releases such as "The Da Vinci Code", "Mission Impossible: III", and "Poseidon".

News From The North
The TankGirl Diaries


Justice Ministery: "Legalizing Filesharing Would Conflict WIPO, UN and EU treaties." - Pirates: "So Be It."

Christoffer Démery from the Swedish Justice Department warns in Sydsvenska's interview that legalizing filesharing would lead Sweden into a legal conflict with WIPO intellectual property treaties, UN copyright conventions and EU directives. While the various international deals would leave some room for interpretation with downloading only (leeching), the conflict will be inevitable when it comes to uploading. Sweden can legalize filesharing nevertheless, which will make the situation legally unambiguous to the citizens; in this case Sweden will have to take whatever heat there is to come from WIPO, UN and EU through the various diplomatic channels.

The leading Swedish pirates are fully aware of this but they think it is worth doing anyway.

Rasmus Fleischer from Piratbyrån says: "I don't think that the Swedish opinion needs any formal legalizing. What we want most is a stop to the furious efforts to control what people are sending to each other over the Internet. The discussion about copyrights can take its time and be conducted internationally."

Richard Falkvinge, the leader of the Pirate Party, says: "The eventual penalties that Sweden will have to pay are much less than what we can win here." As for WTO, UN and EU he says: "There has to come a time when we start to change outdated laws. We will begin it in Sweden but we are also thinking about others at the European level. When Europe has changed, the rest of the world cannot ignore this anymore."


Pirate Bay Operating From Sweden Since Saturday

Newspaper Aftonbladet reports that Pirate Bay has operated from servers located in Sweden since last Saturday. When Aftonbladet asked for a comment from Håkan Roswall, the prosecutor behind the May 31 raid, it turned out that Roswall was not yet aware of this development. Roswall was sceptical about the news and suspected it to be a 'propagandistic claim' by the filesharers.

"I thought he knew that we are back", says Fredrik Neij from Pirate Bay. "He is welcome to check if he wants." Neij tells that Pirate Bay decided to leave Netherlands after being pressured by the local Justice Department. Their server equipment is partially rented and partially donated by people who want to see the site to get back on its feet. According to Aftonbladet the site remains 20-30 % more popular than what it was before the May 31 raid.

Pirate Bay's IP address resolves presently to the defiant DNS name hey.mpaa.and.apb.bite.my.shiny.metal.ass.thepiratebay.org. At some point after the raid also the DNS name same.tracker.same.place.come.get.me.roswall.thepiratebay.org was in use.


Swedish Police to Propose New Actions Against Filesharers

Expressen reports Swedish police planning "more effective action" against filesharers. What that might imply is yet unclear. "We will present tomorrow some concrete proposals to make our work more effective", promises Stefan Eurenius from the Swedish Police. The request for new copyright law enforcement ideas comes from Justice Minister Thomas Bodström, the leading political figure behind the new stricter Swedish copyright law. The law has since last summer effectively criminalized 1.3 million Swedish filesharers, as estimated by SCB, the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics. Bodström has repeatedly demanded "tough measurers" against filesharers.

The last hardline action - a raid against world's largest torrent site Pirate Bay - turned into a huge political boost for the new Pirate Party, aiming to the Parliament in the coming September 18 election and now having 6891 members. The party is quickly approaching the size of Green Party (Miljöpartiet) that has presently 7862 members and is an already well-established political force in Sweden with its 17 parliamentary seats. The Pirates will need about 225,000 votes to make it to Riksdag, the 349-seat Parliament of Sweden.

Expensive Collateral Damage From The Pirate Bay Raid

Aftonbladet reports that already 15 of the approximately 200 innocent third-party businesses who were kicked offline in the Pirate Bay raid have contacted State officials demanding compensation for their downtime. Many of these businesses are small 1-3 person companies to whom even a week of downtime may prove costly or fatal. The individual demands vary between 1,000 USD and 20,000 USD; the total 'collateral damage' costs of the May 31 raid may rise to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"You could compare this to a situation where the police is trying to catch a given car from a parking hall but ends up confiscating and removing every car from the hall.", says Clarence Crafoord from the Centre for Justice whose lawyers are helping the affected businesses pro bono.

Swedish Police Proposal: Special P2P Prosecutors, P2P Investigator Teams

The Swedish Criminal Police and Prosecuting Authority left yesterday their proposal for more effective measures to fight illegal filesharing in Sweden, as requested by the Ministery of Justice earlier this spring. The main suggestions are to educate four special prosecutors to handle all filesharing cases and to have dedicated investigator staff to handle filesharing cases, reports newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

So far the filesharing cases have been assigned to whoever online crime investigators have been available in the scarce IT-trained staff investigating also crimes like online pedophilia and online fraud. Same with prosecutors - cases have been assigned to whoever prosecutors have been available. The training of the four special prosecutors (two from Stockholm, one from Göteborg and one from Malmö) is planned to be 10 days long. The p2p investigators will get a five week training to legal and technical issues.

Henrik Pontén from Antipiratbyrån is happy that "the prosecutor understands the complexity of this type of crime and is willing to dedicate resources and get a better competence on it."

Rickard Olsson, one of the candidates of Pirate Party in the coming September 18 parliamentary election, says: "The police and the prosecutors do not understand anything about what is going on, and after their 10 day crash course they will hardly understand anymore. But at least they admit that they don't have any competence on this field today."

BBC Closes Out Deal For Showing UK TV Over P2P

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has renegotiated its terms with PACT, a UK trade organisation that represents the commercial interests of independent feature film, TV, and animation companies.

This means that it is legally able to go ahead with its Peer to Peer based iPlayer service due to be launched later this year, which will see programs only owned partly by the BBC shown on its service straight after they have been broadcast, and up to seven days later.

It is likely to mean that other companies can share the same terms, such as British Telecom, which wants to offer a similar service over a broadband line, in its BT Vision service.

The new deal is the first to be struck on new media rights by Pact and any major UK broadcaster and has been achieved within the 31 May deadline for agreement set by regulator Ofcom as part of its TV Production Sector Review.

Pact negotiates terms of trade with all public service broadcasters in the UK and helps out in negotiations with cable and satellite channels.

Previously, the window of opportunity for viewing broadcast works over the internet was too small, put in place to protect DVD and other later service revenues.

CBS Offers Downloads of TV Shows On iTunes

CBS Corp., which already sells episodes of its hit television shows "Survivor" and "CSI" on Google Inc.'s online video store, is now offering the downloads on Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store.

"We have all the top shows from all the major networks now," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of applications.

Apple's online store already carries other popular shows from ABC, NBC and Fox. Until Thursday, it offered some CBS programming, such as NCAA basketball, but not prime-time hits.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has sold more than 30 million videos since iTunes debuted TV shows and music videos in October.

TV Teen Sex Orgy Complaints Came From People Who Never Saw The Show
Mark Frauenfelder

The FCC fined CBS $3 million for the teen sex orgy scene in Without a Trace. (View it, if you dare, here). Now CBS is saying the fine is invalid because the people who complained didn't even know what they were complaining about. They were just robotically following the orders of their cult leaders at the PTC and the American Family Association.

CBS says that 100% of the 4,211 complaints filed with the feds about this episode of "Without A Trace" came from web-based e-mail form letters originating from 2 right-wing christian groups (the PTC and the American Family Association). Only two complainers claimed to have seen the show, but made an inaccurate reference to another scene, thus blowing their cover.

But the brunt of the issue lies with a technicality in the indecency complaint process: the FCC can only consider complaints from viewers in the station's broadcast area. Therefore, CBS alleges, the PTC and AFA-initiated complaints against "Without A Trace" are invalid.

The Pornographers vs. The Pirates

Smut giants are showing mainstream Hollywood how to fight back

Jason Tucker is one of a new breed of pornographers. As president of Falcon Foto, he publishes such skin-baring magazines as Hometown Girls and Virgins. But his résumé hardly reads like that of a typical gold-chained smut king. A slight 33-year-old with spiked hair, Tucker came to the X-rated world after a failed Hollywood career that included a gig in film production and parts as a youngster on TV shows such as a Little House on the Prairie spin-off. Adult entertainment was a fallback for the self-described geek who bounced from Tinseltown to work as a consultant advising large tech companies about the skin trade's technology needs.

What worries Tucker these days isn't the possibility of a raid on Falcon's studio -- a 40-acre farm north of Los Angeles -- or a congressional hearing scrutinizing his industry. It's piracy. Falcon, which he runs with his former-model wife, Gail Harris, owns the rights to more than 2 million photos and 350 videos. At a recent Saturday morning shoot at the ranch -- where a petite 23-year-old wriggles out of her bikini under a waterfall -- Tucker is livid after learning that a Falcon-owned photo appeared in a magazine without authorization, having been downloaded from the Internet. "We're getting ripped off again," he fumes, swatting at a copy of the pirated photo. Seven lawyers on his payroll chase the pirates; he has half a dozen lawsuits going right now. He also recently hired a software engineering firm to design a program to scour the Net for other unauthorized uses. Says Tucker: "If we can't protect our content, we're dead."

Sound familiar? It's the rallying cry of any Hollywood mogul worth a corner seat at Mr. Chow. Nowadays, the pornography business, once relegated to a dark corner of the media world, has become a powerful, if unlikely, ally with mainstream Hollywood in the battle against digital piracy. But where mainstream companies fret endlessly before deciding how to proceed with new technologies and business models, the never-bashful porn industry is making some moves that may well show the way for Hollywood -- whether in thwarting pirates or adapting to digital realities. Representatives of the big studios declined to comment about what they might learn, but clearly they are keeping a close watch on the skin merchants' business decisions.

Case in point: Some producers of porn are starting to share revenues from online movies with the distributors of their DVDs, who might otherwise feel endangered by digital distribution online. Bolder yet, one large studio is allowing fans who buy movies online to burn them from their computers onto DVDs, with some protections included, of course.

Always a first mover on new distribution channels, adult entertainment has exploited technologies to create, by some estimates, what is today at least a $2 billion-a-year business. The downside, though, is that in producers' haste to post online, porn has become easy pickings for digital pirates with superfast modems. Even though the industry has hired security firms to sniff out pirates, illegal DVDs still flood cities from New York to Bucharest, and XXX movies show up for free on peer-to-peer sites. And just like Hollywood, the porn industry has no way of pinpointing its losses. "We lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, a year to pirates. We just don't know," laments Steven Hirsch, co-CEO of Vivid Entertainment Group. One of the industry's largest studios, with an estimated $100 million in revenues, Vivid boasts a stable of heavily marketed stars, including top-rated Jenna Jameson, whose videos Vivid distributes.

Sharing The Dough
With DVD sales for all movies now in the midst of a protracted slowdown, adult entertainment companies are more eager than ever to find new -- and safe -- technologies to spur business. Vivid offers downloads of movies from its company site to Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL ) iPods, albeit without help from Apple, and is the first studio to let users make their own DVDs. By contrast, Hollywood blocks viewers from moving flicks beyond PC hard drives. Vivid insists, however, that the download site, CinemaNow Inc., use newly upgraded software from a German firm to enhance protection, says CinemaNow President Bruce Eisen.

The adult entertainment industry isn't just playing defense, either. Having to protect movies with budgets of $100 million or more, Hollywood studios have held back early releases from the Net for fear of upsetting their lucrative partnerships with theater chains and DVD retailers. But some porn operators are prepared to recast old relationships, even if it means handing over some cash. Spain-based Private Media Group Inc. (PRVT ) is trying to appease European video chains by offering 40% of revenues from Net sales.

At the same time, adult entertainment companies, used to being underdogs, aren't shying away from skirmishes with the giants to protect their products. In February a Los Angeles federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Google Inc. (GOOG ) for showing "thumbnail" pictures that belonged to skin magazine Perfect 10 after the glossy sued. Perfect 10 hired lawyer Russ Frackman, who represented the music companies in the Napster Inc. (NAPS ) and Grokster Ltd. cases. Going after Google? Yet another reason for Hollywood to keep an eye on its X-rated brethren.

Say it ain’t so Harper

Unchecked Lobby Power Plays An Old Familiar Tune
Michael Geist

At 10:01 in the morning of Feb. 6, 2006, at the precise moment that a new Conservative Cabinet was being sworn into office at Rideau Hall, David Dyer, a senior consultant with the Capital Hill Group and a registered lobbyist for the Canadian Recording Industry Association, sent an email to Patricia Neri, the director general of Canadian Heritage's Copyright Policy Branch.

The email included a suggested outline for a March 2 event focused on copyright reform. It envisioned a meeting with the Canadian Heritage Deputy Minister Judith LaRoque, two hours of presentations from speakers sympathetic to CRIA's position, lunch with deputy ministers from Heritage, Industry, and International Trade, and a private meeting with the soon-to-be named Minister of Canadian Heritage.

One month later, virtually the identical scenario played itself out in Canadian Heritage's Gatineau offices and in the private dining room of a swank nearby restaurant.

The Harper government's Federal Accountability Act has served as the centrepiece for bringing greater accountability and transparency to the workings of the federal government. While that legislation may have an impact, new documents pertaining to the March 2 event, obtained under an Access to Information Act request, provide a compelling illustration of the power still wielded by lobby groups.

In the weeks following the Dyer email, CRIA worked closely with Canadian Heritage to develop the copyright policy event. An invitation, drafted with CRIA's assistance, was extended to seven different government departments and agencies. The invitation set the stage for the reform process by stating that "Canada's copyright law has been criticized by the Supreme Court and a range of stakeholders, for not having kept up with the challenges posed by new technologies." This characterization is subject to challenge since the Supreme Court of Canada has in fact repeatedly focused on the need for a balanced approach to copyright reform, one that recognizes the interests and rights of both creators and users.

Dyer also warned that CRIA would be coming to Ottawa with a financial request. The music lobby group was planning a study on the Canadian music industry and was seeking $50,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage to help support the project.

The speakers, described as guests of CRIA, included Barry Sookman, a well-regarded Toronto lawyer who is also a registered CRIA lobbyist, U.S. Registrar of Copyrights MaryBeth Peters, Mihaly Ficsor, one of the drafters of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties, Alain Strowel, a Belgian lawyer, and Michael Einhorn, an economist who recently released a paper critical of Canada's proposed copyright reforms.

Twenty government officials, representing Canadian Heritage, Industry, International Trade, Justice, the Competition Bureau, Copyright Board of Canada, and Privy Council Office, gathered in the boardroom of Deputy Minister Judith LaRocque for a two-hour presentation that criticized prior Canadian copyright reform efforts and urged the government to adopt laws similar to those enacted in the United States.

The presentations lamented the absence of criminal sanctions from Bill C-60 and dismissed privacy concerns that have been associated with U.S.-style copyright laws as unfounded (last month, four Canadian privacy commissioners as well as dozens of privacy groups and academics, including the author, issued public letters expressing misgivings about the privacy impact of potential copyright reform).

After the formal presentations, the speakers, CRIA executives Graham Henderson and Richard Pfohl, Dyer, and Assistant Deputy Ministers from Canadian Heritage, Industry, and International Trade enjoyed lunch and drinks at Canadian Heritage's expense in a private dining room at Le Panache restaurant. The speakers and CRIA personnel, joined by a photographer to commemorate the occasion, later returned to Canadian Heritage for a private meeting with Minister Bev Oda.

During the last federal election, former Canadian Heritage Parliamentary secretary Sarmite Bulte found herself in the eye of a political storm after it was revealed that the leaders of several copyright lobby groups, including CRIA, were hosting a fundraiser on her behalf just four days before voters were set to go to the polls. Given that controversy, it is astonishing to find that just days later the same lobby groups were back planning private events for government officials.

In recent weeks, several groups, including the Canadian Federation of Students, the newly-formed Canadian Music Creators Coalition, Appropriation Art: A Coalition of Arts Professionals, and the aforementioned privacy community, have stepped forward to publicly call for a balanced approach to copyright reform that puts the interests of Canadians and Canadian artists first. Lobbyist-backed closed door meetings and private lunches at taxpayers' expense do little to instill confidence that those calls are indeed being heard.

Whiney EFF and RIAA Knocked By Digital License Go Ahead
Andrew Orlowski

Comfort blanket

The US copyright office's proposal to simplify the nightmare of licensing digital music has been rubber stamped by a House committee - despite the objections of the RIAA and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The US copyright office agreed that services such as Napster and iTunes found mechanical copyright licensing a nightmare on a song-by-song basis, and proposed extending the blanket license to cover wholesale digital downloads and streams. Yesterday, the enabling legislation was officially introduced.

Both the Digital Media Association, DiMA, and the National Music Publishers’ Association welcomed the move.

"Fast and efficient music licensing will ensure that songwriters and music publishers are fairly compensated and that creativity in the music industry thrives," said NMPA president David Israelite in a statement. DiMA president Jonathan Potter said it would reduce both legal risk and transaction costs for his members, who include Apple, Napster and AOL.

The legislation also ensures that intermediary copies of digital media making their way down the pipe don't command a royalty.

The Recording Industry Ass. of America had raised deep objections to the proposal, as it sees blanket licenses destroying its distribution advantages.

Under a blanket (or 'compulsory' license) for consumer downloads, record labels fear they would lose control of their hard-fought grip on physical distribution channels, and lose control over pricing. In fact, they'd simply have to work harder to gain a bigger share of the pie, and innovate to find new outlets for their copyrighted material.

"SIRA removes record companies from the digital music value chain of which they've been a part since the beginning of recorded music and would prohibit them from selling a final product with all rights included," RIAA chief Cary Sherman told Congress last month, with typical hyperbole.

On the peer to peer networks the RIAA is trying to close down, and which are the real rival to the new digital services, it's hard to see where in the value chain the record companies sit.

But more bizarre was the objection from the EFF.

Of necessity, the blanket license covers "incidental reproductions" of digital media, such as cached copies on the Napster servers, so it can give them a zero royalty.

The EFF cried foul, and claimed that this eroded fair use for consumers.

"Just think of all the incidental copies that litter your computer today - do you have a license for every copy in your browser's cache?" asked EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann.

The EFF is only doing the job it should when it spies subtle and ominous precedents in pending legislation. Alas, this interpretation fails the basic digital literacy test. As DiMA points out today,

"The license is not available to consumers, does not obligate consumers to pay a royalty, and does not address in any way whether consumers can lawfully copy copyrighted works. In fact, SIRA includes a clause to ensure that it does not change fair use law in any way." [their emphasis].

It's also an opt-in arrangement, DiMA stresses. So it doesn't apply to ordinary surfers, and only applies to you, should you be a prospective Napster.

Lawyers are notorious for their literalism, and American lawyers particularly so. Unable to see the wood for the trees - or more precisely, the context for HR.5553 - the EFF has handed the RIAA an arsenal of legal arguments for opposing blanket licenses.

Which incidentally, is the EFF's preferred compensation model. Should a miracle occur, and the opposing parties in the P2P war sit down and adopt the EFF's "Voluntary Collective Licensing" proposal, then the enabling legislation would look a lot like HR.5553. Which suggests this isn't just a tactical goof, but a strategic error - the consequence of not thinking really hard about the future.

Tiscali Pulls Juke Box Music Service

Blasts 'shortsighted' music industry
Tim Richardson

Tiscali says it has been forced to "turn off" its new Juke Box music service following a run-in with the European music industry.

Last month, the European ISP unveiled details of its new p2p music service backed by US outfit Mercora, which lets people legally search for millions of tracks and share them using streaming technology.

Crucially, the service also won the backing of SCF (Società Consortile Fonografici), the Italian rights collecting society acting on behalf of record producers, artists and performers, which granted Tiscali the licence to run the streaming service.

At its launch last month the service was hailed as another "step forward in legitimising the internet as an immense resource at the service of the music industry".

"SCF is in fact involved in promoting a dialogue between online music consumers and copyright owners and in seizing the many opportunities that are offered by the internet to the music industry," SCF president Gianluigi Chiodaroli said in a statement. "This experimental web casting agreement is valid in each European country that Tiscali will be interested in operating in and represents a new opportunity in preserving music digital contents."

Now though, Tiscali says it's been forced pull the service, claiming that it's "virtually impossible to work with [the European Recording Industry] in the promotion of legal music online".

In an open letter, Mario Mariani, senior VP at Tiscali, accuses the European Record Industry of "short-sightedness...in not making any effort to understand either the basic needs or habits of music fans that choose to consume music via the internet, or the acts directly benefiting from this promotion."

As Mariani explains: "The service has now been judged by the major recording labels in Europe to be 'too interactive' only because it allows users of the internet (the most interactive of mediums) to carry out searches by 'artist' in addition to genre.

"It should be explained to the readers that online music rights are subdivided into two main categories: 'non interactive rights', which can be negotiated with the collecting societies, and 'interactive rights' which must be negotiated with the individual recording labels.

"After signing an experimental one-year webcasting agreement based on the management of non-interactive rights, today, Tiscali has received a request by the recording labels to modify the service by eliminating the search by artist mode or, alternatively, to negotiate the so called interactive rights with the individual recording labels."

As a result of this demand, Tiscali has been forced to pull the Juke Box until the matter is resolved.

Mariani says that the changes imposed are "against the spirit of our initiative", which he says was to promote the legal distribution and sale of music. He's also puzzled that the European record industry has taken these steps now "despite the joint regular testing and fine-tuning phase carried out prior to the launch of the service".

"This is even more serious if one considers the fact that the same service with all the same functions disputed here, is being offered by Mercora in the United States and Canada, where it is deemed perfectly legal. We cannot ignore that the objections presented to Tiscali at this time represent, on the part of the recording industry, a clear attempt to discriminate between American and European music fans and internet users."

He went on: "Faced with this total lack of understanding and despite having put our best efforts into developing and testing the service in full transparency and co-operation with the recording industry, Tiscali today finds itself being forced to turn it off."

Launching a verbal broadside against the music industry, Mariani said: "It is important to underline that this affair not only has an impact on Tiscali Juke Box, but on the entire market for the legal online distribution of music. The industry's conservative attitude makes any collaboration for the promotion and marketing of any type of legal, innovative service very difficult. It is unfortunate that once again the industry has demonstrated the complete rejection of online legal music based on open systems, and is to the full advantage of the proliferation of music piracy services."

The SCF was asked to respond, but a spokeswoman for the rights collecting society said that it had "no comment to make at the moment".

Detox Clinic Set For Video Game Addicts
Fia Curley

An addiction center is opening Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't leave their joysticks alone.

Video games may look innocent, but they can be as addictive as gambling or drugs - and just as hard to kick, says Keith Bakker, director of Amsterdam-based Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants.

Bakker already has treated 20 video game addicts, aged 13 to 30, since January. Some show withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking and sweating, when they look at a computer console.

His detox program begins in July. It will run four to eight weeks, and will include therapy sessions, wilderness excursions, healthy lifestyle workshops and possibly medication.

Research into video gaming is still in its infancy, and researchers haven't agreed on how to define addiction. But many experts say it's clear many of the young people who show dependency on video games are in trouble.

"We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the last three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," Bakker said. "Their social network has completely disappeared."

It can start with a Game Boy, perhaps given by parents hoping to keep their children occupied but away from the television. From there, it can progress to multilevel games that aren't made to be won.

Bakker said he has seen signs of addiction in children as young as 8.

About a dozen clinics already exist in the United States and Canada, and even one in China, as excessive gaming increasingly is being recognized worldwide as an ailment requiring treatment.

Elizabeth Woolley, who founded the Safe Haven halfway house for addicted gamers in Harrisburg, Pa., welcomed the idea that treating addicts is spreading to the Netherlands. "Thank God that somebody has finally recognized this is an issue," she said.

Jeroen Jansz, associate professor of communications research at the University of Amsterdam, estimates about 80 percent of boys aged 8 to 18 play some type of video game. Forty percent play at least 2 1/2 hours a day.

In a 2005 study, Jansz said gamers are overwhelmingly males, especially in violent games where adolescents find "a safe private laboratory where they can experience different emotions."

Hyke van der Heijden, 28, a graduate of the Amsterdam program, started playing video games 20 years ago. By the time he was in college he was gaming about 14 hours a day and using drugs to play longer.

"For me, one joint would never be enough, or five minutes of gaming would never be enough," he said. "I would just keep going until I crashed out."

Van der Heijden first went to Smith & Jones for drug addiction in October 2005, but realized the gaming was the real problem. Since undergoing treatment, he has distanced himself from his smoking and gaming friends. He says he has been drug- and game-free for eight months.

Like other addicts, Bakker said, gamers are often trying to escape personal problems. When they play, their brains produce endorphins, giving them a high similar to that experienced by gamblers or drug addicts. Gamers' responses to questions even mirror those of alcoholics and gamblers when asked about use.

"Many of these kids believe that when they sit down, they're going to play two games and then do their homework," he said.

However, unlike other addicts, most gamers received their first game from their parents. "Because it's so new, parents don't see that this is something that can be dangerous," Bakker said.

Tim, a gamer who is under treatment, agreed to discuss his addiction on condition that his last name not be used. He said he began playing video games three years ago at age 18. Soon, he would not leave his room for dinner. Later, he began taking drugs to stay awake and play longer. Finally, he sought help and picked up other hobbies to occupy his time.

Richard Wood, a professor of International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, is skeptical about viewing heavy gamers as addicts. Wood says that gaming may be a symptom of a problem, but should be seen as a problem itself "just because a person does the activity a lot."

Bakker, however, says symptoms of addiction are easy to spot. Parents should take notice if a child neglects usual activities, spends several hours at a time with the computer and has no social life.

Bakker said parents of game addicts frequently echo the words of partners of cocaine addicts: "'I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.'"

You go girl

Teen Sneaks To Mideast To Meet MySpace Pal

A 16-year-old girl who flew to the Middle East to see a man she met on MySpace.com was detained in Jordan and was headed home Friday, an FBI spokesman said.

U.S. officials persuaded Katherine Lester to take the return flight from Amman, FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman said from the agency's Detroit office.

Katherine had disappeared from her home in Gilford, in eastern Michigan, on Monday and apparently planned to visit a man whose MySpace account describes him as a 25-year-old from Jericho, said Tuscola County Undersheriff James Jashinske.

The sheriff's department contacted the FBI, which traced the teen to a flight from New York to Amman, Jashinske said. On Thursday night, her family received word from U.S. officials that she had been stopped as she arrived in Amman en route to Tel Aviv, Israel.

Katherine's mother, Shawn Lester, said her daughter had persuaded her in April to help her get a passport so she could go on a two-week vacation to Canada with a friend's family.

On Sunday, they drove to a bus station for that trip, but the family didn't show up. Shawn Lester said she called them, learned there was no trip and brought her daughter home. The next day, Katherine was gone.

Jashinske said it remained unclear whether any law had been violated. An online conversation with a 16-year-old is not illegal in Michigan, but solicitation for sex would be. He said deputies confiscated the family's home computer and were taking it to the FBI's Bay City office Friday for analysis.

FBI spokesman Brian Endrizal declined to provide any details and would not comment on the man's identity or background.

Two Types of Net Neutrality: Good & Evil

Lawmakers can’t understand why net neutrality is a good thing, so their only recourse is to turn it into a bad thing. The latest bill: If large monopolistic broadband providers that limit your ISP choice are unable to control your Internet surfing, then all websites may be watched and potentially forced to be “neutral” via FCC regulation. Huh?

The comparison is preposterous in that the two scenarios are like apples and oranges. In the first case, you have broadband providers that would like to give preferential treatment to websites that pay for it. So, in effect, you’d have better browsing capabilities (faster speed) with large websites that have paid your broadband provider for improved performance over the competition. But if you’re interested in checking out a website that is in competition with your broadband provider’s affiliates, good luck. It’s akin to buying Pepsi at a movie theater wholly sponsored by Coke. Not going to happen…

In the second case, you have the millions of websites online competing for your business. For example, your loyalty to a search engine isn’t dictated by the lack of availability of other search engines. If you don’t like Google, you try Yahoo, if you don’t like Yahoo, try MSN, etc. Many of us have used dozens of search engines in our quest to find information. And this lack of loyalty (a.k.a. low switching cost) is a good thing in that it prevents barrier to entry in cyberspace thus causing search and other online services to be enhanced and refined through companies’ healthy competition one with another.

This healthy competition doesn’t really exist with broadband providers in that, in any give area of the United States, most Internet users can only receive high-speed Internet access from one or two providers. Thus, service is generally poor; innovation is low; and switching costs for consumers are high. But this barrier to entry doesn’t stop these duopolistic companies from feeling entitled to windfall profits that come with dictating what sites you can access based on which have paid them the most.

So now, as the big telcos and cable companies are under fire for trying to turn the Internet into cable TV (where they control the broadcasting), their only recourse is to turn “net neutrality” into a tainted term by taking it to the extreme: giving the FCC power to regulate content on the Internet to enforce neutrality. For example, the FCC could prevent Google from declining certain types of controversial or negative ads or it could force Google to run ads for its competition, all under the banner of Google needing to be “neutral.”

This would be an extreme amount of power given to a government body. Ironically, the original definition of net neutrality was focused around limiting “the man’s” power, not giving him more. Of course, broadband providers don’t necessarily want this newly defined net neutrality. They’re just hoping that any thought of it will stop the pleas for the original net neutrality.

But they miss the point: The Internet is a free and open land that should be available to anyone without government intervention or conglomerate controlled content. This is true Net Neutrality. Don’t be fooled by the tainted version involving a government body deciding what’s neutral. Neutral has already been happening without the FCC defining it, thank you very much.

Network Neutrality Interests Senators And Moonie-Owned Newspapers Alike
Nate Anderson

The original draft of the Senate Commerce Committee's new telecommunications legislation contained no provisions for network neutrality, instead directing the FCC to produce a yearly report on the topic. Needless to say, yearly FCC reports were not what the proponents of network neutrality had hoped for; they wanted legislative action, and it looked like they would be disappointed.

In the month since, the Senate has discovered an interest in the topic, though, and Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) now believes that more can and should be done to ensure that consumers are able to access any web sites and services on the Internet without degradation.

"I think that's the one issue where we still have some work to do," Lisa Sutherland, chief of staff to Stevens, told reporters. "We're going to work as hard as we can this week on Net neutrality."

His initial proposal to simply study the issue further did not please several members of the committee, and Stevens now looks ready to consider some compromise plans that could be presented to the full Senate in as little as the week.

The debate over network neutrality has exploded beyond the boundaries of traditional geekdom in the last few months. It has played out in the halls of Congress and on the editorial pages of major American newspapers, the high level of interest signaling just how important Internet connections have become to people's lives. While both sides have important points to make about the inherent dangers of monopolies, the unintended consequences of government regulation, etc., the level of the debate isn't raised when people get their facts wrong.

Techdirt dissects some of the claims being made by DC newspapers this week and points out the holes in their editorial writing about the issue. Take the Washington Times, for example, the right-wing paper owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (founder of the Moonies), which had this to say in a recent editorial on network neutrality:

"Essentially, the [failed House] amendment would have forced Internet service providers (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) to offer the same speed to Internet companies regardless of content. So, for example, Comcast would have to charge Microsoft the same price to send broadband-consuming video content as the individual blogger who uses far less band space. The basis for this is the idea that the Internet should remain 'free' to all.
But nothing in life is free."

The obvious confusion that lies at the heart of this statement concerns the way that the Internet is funded. The passage assumes that when ISPs like Comcast pass Microsoft traffic along to consumers without receiving any money, they're being ripped off, exactly as if a consumer found some way to siphon a Comcast broadband connection without paying for it. This simply isn't true, though. Microsoft has already paid their own ISP for bandwidth (it's certainly not "free," and it's certainly not the same rate that a blogger pays for a low-bandwidth web site), and the reason that they don't need to pay Comcast a second fee is that Comcast's own network is funded by their own customers. People aren't dropping US$40 a month for an Internet fast lane that leads only to Sticksville, MO, they're paying for their connection because it allows them to connect to companies like Microsoft. No one just wants to access the "Internet cloud"; they want to access specific Internet sites. Without interesting Web properties to visit, no one would pay US$500 a year for the privilege of using a fat Internet pipe.

Part of the problem here is that it's not always clear what the ISPs have in mind for the Internet. People like AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre can bellyache about people using "my pipes for free" and talk about extracting money from Google and others, then turn around and claim that he has no plans to "do anything to affect the Internet." What exactly do firms like AT&T have in mind? Depending on what happens in the next several weeks, we'll know soon enough.

Constitutional Circumvention
James Boyle

In September last year, I wrote about a very bad proposal being debated in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The proposal was to extend the length of an existing set of intellectual property rights for broadcasters, and even apply them to webcasting. As I pointed out, there is no empirical evidence that these rights produce any social benefit. Indeed, the US has never had such a right and yet has a flourishing broadcast industry.

Extending the rights to webcasting, despite the manifest differences between the economic structure and global reach of the two media, was a jaw-dropping move with obviously bad consequences. We should be focusing on rules about conduct, not rights over content. If signal piracy and rebroadcasting is a problem, we should have a rule that narrowly focuses on that conduct, prohibiting unfair business practices by commercial competitors. The last thing we should do is create yet another set of long lasting property rights over the content.

Copyright offices around the world admit that there is a huge problem with “orphan works” – copyrighted material for which the copyright holder cannot be found. Given the absurdly long copyright term, it is quite possible that the majority of the cultural production of the twentieth century consists of orphan works. Because of the difficulty of clearing copyright, those works remain locked up in the library. Even though the copyright holder has long disappeared, or would not mind, it is impossible to show the old movie, adapt the old book, play the old song, put the old poem in an anthology. Many libraries simply refuse to allow screening of movies until the copyright term has expired; probably no one would object, but the legal risk is too great.

Now imagine creating an entirely new layer of rights over everything that is broadcast or webcast, on top of whatever copyrights already cover the work. You find a copy of a movie in the library and manage, at great expense, to work out that it is in the public domain, or to get the copyright holder’s permission. Perhaps the work is covered by a Creative Commons license, granting you permission to reproduce. Not so fast! Even after trudging through all the orphan works problems in copyright, you would have to prove that this copy had not been made from a broadcast or webcast. More clearance problems! More middle-men! More empirically ungrounded state-granted monopolies! Just what we wanted. There are even some serious free speech problems.

What if only Fox or CBS has the footage of a particular public event? Do we let the broadcaster eviscerate the ideas of fair use, prohibiting other networks from showing fragments so as to comment on the events, or criticise the original coverage? The proposed treaty text allows for fair use-like exceptions but does not require them. Once again, we harmonise upward property rights for powerful commercial entities, but leave to individual states the discretion whether and how to frame of the equally crucial public interest exceptions to those rights. Increased property rights for broadcasters are required. The public interest in education, access, and free speech is optional. (Among other things, most of the recent drafts would outlaw home recording of TV and radio unless a special exception was put into the law, state by state.)

This proposal was so bad, so empirically threadbare, so unbalanced, that I had cherished a faint hope that the members of WIPO would abandon it. At least, I hoped there might be a comparative study of the nations that had previously adopted the protection and those that had not, to see if there was any need for such a change? What was I thinking!!? Why do we need evidence? With remarkably little public attention, the Broadcasting Treaty train is chugging ahead strongly, with states providing new draft proposals over the next two months for a possible decision in September. The status of the webcasting provision is still unclear. But the webcasters are pressing hard. Expect another poorly reasoned proposal to rise from the ashes, with the US playing a key role. The press seems to have missed the story. Bizarrely, the proposal is getting more robust criticism from industry sources, who can see how it will affect competitiveness on the web, than from librarians and civil libertarians who ought to appreciate better than anyone its effect on speech and cultural heritage.

Of course, the casting treaty is a paradigmatic example of the dysfunctions in our international deliberations on these issues; we have the absence of evidence, the mandatory rights and optional exceptions, the industry-capture, the indifference to harm caused by rights-thickets. But the representatives of the United States, who have played an ignominious role as cheerleaders for this silly treaty, have a particular, indeed a constitutional, reason to be ashamed.

Unlike their descendants who now work the floor at WIPO, the framers of the US constitution had a principled, pro-competitive attitude to intellectual property. They knew rights might be necessary, but they worried about industry-capture and unnecessary monopoly and so they tied congress’s hands, restricting its power in multiple ways.

Rights have to be of limited duration. (Congress has managed to get around that one by repeatedly extending the limit: Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.) They can only cover original material, which must be fixed in some material form. No rights over inventions that are already known, or over unoriginal compilations of fact. Of course, if the material is not within the core domain of copyright and patent, congress may go further, as it has with trademarks.

But over the material covered by copyright, where we are dealing with fundamental constitutional limitations, these rules reign supreme and congress may not circumvent them by turning to another constitutional source of power. What does this mean in practice? That is a complicated question. There are pending legal disputes about “bootlegging statutes” and about foreign works that have been pulled out of the public domain as a consequence of the Uruguay Round of trade agreements.

In my view, the current drafts of the Broadcast Treaty would be unconstitutional if implemented in American law. They create new copyright-like rights over unoriginal material, indeed material that is frequently copyrighted by someone else. That violates a core restriction of the copyright clause of the constitution. They also ignore the fixation requirement.

But forget the attempt to predict what the Supreme Court would do if it heard the case. Are the US’s negotiators ignoring their constitutional responsibilities, and seeking to get a bad treaty passed with inadequate public debate of its desirability, constitutionality or consequences? About that there is no doubt at all. Shame on them. Jefferson and Madison would not approve. Should we?

Another Sky Press is a non-traditional publishing company located in Portland, Oregon. We operate under a progressive publishing and distribution paradigm that aims to directly benefit both artist and audience.

In short, this means two things:

1. You can read everything we release for free online.
2. You can purchase the books we publish at a price you set.

More information on why we exist and what we stand for can be found throughout the site. If you’re interested in the theory behind the site, we suggest starting with this.

British Publishers Seek Exclusive Rights to Sell English-Language Books in Europe
Motoko Rich

When tourists, expatriates and other English speakers look for books in Continental Europe, they often get a choice between two editions: one produced by an American publisher and another by a British one, each with distinctive covers, paper stock and spellings.

But that choice, a longstanding tradition that allows both American and British publishers to compete for sales in Europe, could be imperiled as British publishers renew an old campaign to secure exclusive rights to sell English-language books in Europe.

The arcane trade issue, which was a subject of heated debate more than a decade ago, has returned as British publishers complain about what they see as a new threat on their home turf. They say that because of open borders between countries in the European Union, American editions of books sold in Europe are starting to appear either in British bookstores or on Web sites, in direct competition with British editions.

Not surprisingly, American publishers are resisting the move to give their British counterparts exclusive publishing rights in Europe. This week, the Americans are being joined by a group of five European booksellers and distributors who are sending an open letter to publishers in Britain and the United States opposing the latest British push.

Citing the importance of consumer choice, the threat of increased Internet sales and concerns that without competition British publishers will simply raise prices, the booksellers "urge all publishers involved to strongly reject any effort to restrict competition in the market."

The signers of the letter include booksellers and distributors in Lisbon, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Paris. "In a global market, this would be an atavistic move," they write, "because it means a return to protectionism and an attack on cultural diversity."

If a book is originally published in Britain, its publisher already gets exclusive rights in Europe. Sales of British-published English-language editions in Continental Europe represent about $300 million in annual revenue, about 6 percent of total sales, said Tim Hely Hutchinson, chief executive of Hachette Livre UK, a publishing company that owns the Hodder Headline, Orion, Little Brown UK and Octopus imprints. In comparison, sales by British publishers totaled about $5.2 billion last year, according to the Publishers Association, a trade group.

"It's not a land grab for Europe as a territory," said Stephen Page, chief executive and publisher of Faber & Faber UK and president of the Publishers Association. "It's about defending the United Kingdom as a territory for British publishers."

Although Mr. Page could not cite specific figures on how many American editions had been showing up for sale in Britain, he said, "it's not the scale of what is happening, it's our anxiety of what could happen."

Jonathan Lloyd, group managing director of Curtis Brown UK, a literary agency in London, said that in one high-profile case last year, the United States hardcover edition of "Star of the Sea" by Joseph O'Connor, a historical novel published by Harcourt, became the No. 1 best seller in Ireland at the same time that Random House UK was publishing the paperback version of the book in Britain.

The American publishers dispute that British publishers are having trouble protecting their home market from American interlopers.

An open European market "is the way it has worked for years, and there has to be a big perceived benefit to change it," said Carolyn K. Reidy, president of adult publishing at Simon & Schuster in New York, which is owned by the CBS Corporation. She estimated that United States publishers sold about $250 million in books in Continental Europe each year, or 2 percent of sales.

Ms. Reidy argues that the ability to produce European editions also enables publishers to sell English-language versions in small export markets in Asia and Latin America, helping to increase an author's global exposure.

With so many publishing companies now owned by large corporations with divisions on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate is often an internal one. "We have talked quite rationally to the British part of our company but I don't think they are in total agreement with our global stance," said Jane Friedman, president and chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers, the United States publishing unit of the News Corporation media conglomerate. Calls to Amanda Ridout, managing director of general books at HarperCollins UK, were not returned.

One global company that is siding with its British divisions is Hachette. "It is of vital importance that we maintain European exclusivity for U.K. publishers," said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group USA, which owns the Little, Brown and Warner Books imprints.

His counterpart in London, Mr. Hely Hutchinson, said that authors and publishers "are far better served where there is one publisher who can provide all the marketing and customer support for the book and do so without worrying about somebody else free-riding on all that publicity."

But American publishers do not want to give in on Europe because of the precedent it might set. "You want to protect as many of the rights suite as is available," said Jack Romanos, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster. He pointed out that publishers once gave away film or audio rights and then had to fight to get them once movie and audiobook deals became more popular.

The dispute is mostly theoretical for now, as British publishers are still negotiating book by book for rights to publish in Europe. Agents in the United States say they have had a few requests from British publishers seeking exclusive rights in Europe, but by and large it has not become a deal-breaker.

Lost in the debate between publishers is the consumer's voice, booksellers argue. "My customers are extremely sensitive to the American or English paperbacks," said Odile Hellier, owner of Village Voice Bookshop in Paris and one of the signatories of the open letter to publishers. "Americans love to buy the U.K. editions here because they don't see them at home and vice versa. The U.K. people love to see American jackets. It's the diversity which is important."

Hollywood and the Hackers
Adam Livingstone and Richard Taylor

Motion Picture Association President Dan Glickman locks horns with Electronic Frontier Foundation's John Perry Barlow over big media's war with the internet.

The biggest pirate movie site on the Internet was raided by police a few days ago. Within 48 hours it was up and running in a different country. It's just another week on the barricades of the information revolution.

Over and again we at geek central find ourselves reading about the latest skirmish between the copyright cops and the darknet without ever hearing that there might be a war going on.

The hackers want to break Hollywood on the wheel of their collective ingenuity and show the suits who is in charge.

Big media wants to make money from the internet like it does with every other outlet, or at the very least not have piracy forever draining away their profits.

And they have been hammering away at each other for years now.

Grateful Dead

But could there ever be peace between these two warring tribes? Have they got anything to teach one another, or will they spend yet another decade 'not getting' each other's point of view?

Newsnight decided to track down the two most powerful voices on either side of the divide and ask them about their own philosophies and what they thought of their opponent.

John Perry Barlow used to be the lyricist in the US supergroup 'The Grateful Dead.' He went on to co-found the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the pressure group that's placed itself front and centre in the fight to keep the tanks of government and corporation off the lawns of cyberspace.

Congressman Dan Glickman became US Secretary for Agriculture under Bill Clinton. Nowadays he's the President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, the body that wields the collective political and legal muscle of the Hollywood studios.

Here's an edited highlight of what they have to say about one another:

John Perry Barlow : The entertainment industry is as it always has been. It's a rough bunch of people and a rough industry. I don't think that the movie industry is any more ready than any other part of the information industries to adapt itself to the information age. But it's going to go there one way or the other.

And whatever its cries of protest and growing pains, it'll make it eventually - it's just going to do everything it can, as the record industry has done, as the publishing industry has done, to stop progress in that direction until it gets its act together.

And I fear that it's done grave harm to itself and to the future in the process of trying to slow down progress, but it'll go there inevitably.

Dan Glickman : John Perry Barlow is the one who's doing a disservice to the consumers, because you see if you don't adequately compensate the artist, the director, the creator, the actor, they won't do it in the first place so people won't get movies.

So, yeah, we should be protecting our copyright but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be looking for new ways to get that content to people in modern ways - particularly young people who [understand] computers and electronic equipment and the internet very well.

JPB : These are aging industries run by aging men, and they're up against 17-year-olds who have turned themselves into electronic Hezbollah because they resent the content industry for its proprietary practices. And I don't have a question about who's going to win that one eventually.

There are a lot of kids out there copying and distributing movies not because they care about seeing the movies or sharing them with their friends but because they want to stick it to the movie business. It's widely assumed that you can't compete with free and that seems like a reasonable thing to think. But this has not been my experience. I mean I've made a fair amount of money over the years writing songs for 'The Grateful Dead' who allowed their fans to tape their concerts.

We were at one point the biggest grossing performing act in the United States, and most of our records went platinum sooner or later.

It's an economic model that has worked in my experience and I think it does work. It's just that it seems like it wouldn't. It seems counter-intuitive.

DK : It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature.

Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not. If they don't make a profit in this world they're out of business. That's just the laws of human nature.

JPB : If I were to encounter Dan Glickman on the street and we were to have a civilised conversation about this subject, which would be a long shot, I'd tell him to relax.

I'd tell him to spend less of the resources of his industry on fighting the inevitable and more on learning about the conditions that they find themselves in and recognising the opportunities, which I think are vast and very encouraging. But they can't get to those opportunities until they quit trying to stop progress.

DK : First of all I'd tell John Perry Barlow that I'm very relaxed and if we met each other we'd probably have a very good time. But all of us kind of need to chill out.

The fact of the matter is that people who create content for movies and television have to make a profit. If they don't you won't see all this wonderful stuff and listen to it.

But he is right to the extent that we need to be finding new and different ways to get our content to people, whether it's internet or whether it's iPod or whether it's remotely accessed in various parts of the world. If [we] don't the consumer will not be satisfied and in this business the consumer is king and queen. If you don't make them happy they won't buy your product.

JPB : I've got good news and bad news and good news. And the good news is that you guys have managed to buy every major legislative body on the planet, and the courts are even with you. So you've done a great job there and you should congratulate yourself.

But you know the problem is - the bad news is that you're up against a dedicated foe that is younger and smarter that you are and will be alive when you're dead. You're 55 years old and these kids are 17 and they're just smarter than you. So you're gonna lose that one.

But the good news is that you guys are mean sons of bitches and you've been figuring out ways of ripping off audiences and artists for centuries.....

Mitsubishi to Release HD DVD-R, BD-R in July
Nicholas Deleon

When in Japan, buy all the cool stuff that takes forever to reach these shores. Mitsubishi just announced that they’ll be selling HD DVD-R discs in Japan starting on July 5. Two versions will be released, a 15GB version (model number VR15T1) and a 30GB version (VR150T1). HD DVD-RW discs aren’t part of this disc announcement jubilee.

Not taking sides in the next generation DVD war, Mitsubishi will also be releasing Blu-ray writable and rewritable discs, also on July 5. These are single-sided, single-layer BD-R and BD-RE discs and can hold up 25GB of data. Mitsubishi expects to start selling dual-layer discs this fall.

As DVD Sales Slow, Hollywood Hunts for a New Cash Cow
Ken Belson

After more than half a decade as Hollywood's savior, the DVD is looking a little tired — and the movie studios, for once, are having trouble coming up with a sequel.

DVD sales represent more than half of the revenue studios generate from most of their movies. But those sales are expected to grow just 2 percent this year, a far cry from the double-digit growth the industry enjoyed just two years ago. High-definition DVD's were supposed to pick up the slack, but technical delays and a thorny format war between camps led by Sony and Toshiba have dampened expectations.

Studios are starting to beam digital movie files to consumers over the airwaves and send them through the Internet, but sales so far are minuscule. Rentals and video-on-demand, though growing, generate far smaller profits for the studios than store-bought DVD's.

This explains why executives who gathered here earlier this month for an industry conference expect, for better or worse, that the plain old DVD will remain their bread and butter for several more years. Meanwhile, they are trying everything they can in their quest for a new cash cow.

"The technology seems to change every Monday," said Bob Chapek, the president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a division of Disney, speaking on a panel of studio chiefs. "On the one hand, we're playing in the old-fashioned packaged goods business, and at the same time, we have to deal with new technologies."

For the studios, the clock is ticking: sales of standard discs are expected to fall by about 20 percent by 2010, according to Adams Media Research, an industry consultant based in Carmel, Calif.

With most movies and many television shows now on DVD, studios are running out of new material to throw at consumers, analysts say. Some studios have been repackaging older hits into anniversary box sets and other promotions, but consumers may be tiring of that tactic, as studio chiefs sheepishly acknowledge.

"We were shameless," said Steve Beeks, the president of Lions Gate Entertainment, which has issued several new versions of the Terminator movies. "We would release special editions as long as people would buy them."

Movie studios have also been issuing DVD's closer to movie release dates. This has led to larger spikes in sales right after DVD's come out, but steeper declines later and more turnover on store shelves. For movies that gross more than $100 million at the box office, 84 percent of DVD sales are in the first six weeks after their release, up from 81 percent in 2003, according to David Hoffman, an analyst for Nielsen VideoScan.

Some of the slowdown, though, is beyond the studios' control. A growing number of Americans with digital cable plans, for instance, are now watching movies on demand and buying or renting fewer DVD's.

Comcast, the country's largest cable company, lets its subscribers view 7,500 free movies and programs, and since 2004, they have watched them two billion times.

While this has made it easier for Americans to avoid driving to the mall to buy DVD's, they are still renting them. Netflix, a mail-order service that stocks about 60,000 DVD's of movies, TV shows and other fare, has about five million customers.

Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, expects to have 20 million customers by 2012. He says his business is helped by the exclusive licensing deals that restrict the selection of movies available via Internet downloading and video-on-demand.

"DVD's will dominate for another decade," Mr. Hastings said.

Studios make money when Netflix and other companies rent out their movies. (Depending on the studio and movie, Netflix either buys the DVD's or licenses the use of them.) But the amount that studios make on rentals pales compared to how much they make when consumers buy discs. Studios earn $17.26 for each DVD they sell, but only $2.37 for movies on demand and $2.25 per DVD rented, according to Tom Adams, the president of Adams Media Research.

"It's a business model that can't be matched," he said.

That differential in profits means that the standard DVD will be around for a while, whatever the promise of those new technologies. Though sales are no longer growing at double-digit rates, consumers in the United States still buy about $16 billion worth of DVD's a year.

Part of the DVD's success is that the discs are easy to buy, easy to use and relatively inexpensive, thanks to the well-oiled system of getting them into consumers' hands. Take Technicolor's sprawling facilities in Camarillo, Calif., about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. Technicolor, a unit of Thomson that is one of the world's leading disc makers, ships about 150 million DVD's a year from its operations — about 9 percent of its global production — to stores throughout the western United States.

In one wing, robotic machines spit out new discs about every three seconds. The discs are wheeled into adjoining buildings, where they are fed into plastic cases that are wrapped for shipping. At another warehouse, the DVD's are packed into ready-made cardboard displays, plunked onto pallets and shipped on behalf of the studios to Best Buy, Costco and other retailers, arriving within days of being ordered.

Retailers love DVD's because they spur other sales, too. Customers who buy DVD's at Wal-Mart, which sells $4.7 billion worth of discs a year, spend twice as much on each store visit on average because they also buy popcorn, beer and other items to go with their movies, according to Mr. Hoffman of Nielsen VideoScan.

The money that DVD's spin off is a big reason the studios are pushing new high-definition DVD's, which are sold and used just like standard-definition discs.

Unfortunately, there's a hitch. The studios, electronics makers and technology companies that developed them came up with two formats: Blu-ray, backed by Sony, Dell, Disney and others; and HD-DVD, which is supported by Toshiba, Microsoft and Universal, among others.

The split could keep consumers on the sidelines, because they risk getting saddled with obsolete players and discs if one side ultimately backs down. Cost is another factor. Toshiba has introduced a $500 player that, at least for now, can only play movies from three major studios. Later this month, Samsung will release the first Blu-ray machine, which will be able to play more movies, but it is expected to cost about $1,000.

Technical hurdles were behind Pioneer's decision last week to delay the release of its Blu-ray player — which will cost about $1,500 — until September. Studios have released only a handful of movies thus far because so few players have been sold. Another complication is that consumers with older high-definition television sets may not get the best possible picture if studios activate certain copy protection software embedded on their DVD's.

"Both formats coming to market are early," said Craig Kornblau, the president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. "This is all a 1.0 release," referring to an early version of a product.

Proponents in both camps hope that video game players will popularize their formats. The PlayStation 3, due out in November, will play Blu-ray DVD's, and Microsoft is creating an accessory for its Xbox 360 console that will play HD-DVD discs. The studios also expect the boom in sales of high-definition television sets to heighten interest in high-definition DVD's, including older movies re-released in the new format.

"As people invest in LCD and flat-panel TV's, they are naturally going to want to invest in high-definition movies," said Benjamin S. Feingold, the president of worldwide home entertainment, digital distribution and acquisitions at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Even so, the companies backing both high-definition formats are likely to see only modest sales initially. Consumers will buy just $175 million worth of HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs this year; by 2010, high-definition DVD sales will still be only half those of standard-definition disc sales, according to Adams Media Research.

"While the go-go days are gone, it's going to take a lot for another category to supplant" DVD sales, said Mr. Hoffman of Nielsen. "The end is not here yet."

James Rogers

Hollywood movie maker Pixar, famous for movies such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, has been wrestling with a massive data challenge during the production of its latest release, Cars, according to Greg Brandeau, Pixar's VP of technology.

During his keynote here today, Brandeau explained that Cars, which is slated for a June release, has put more strain on his internal systems than any other movie, swallowing up a colossal 2,300 CPU years over the course of the last five years. In other words, in Brandeau's view, a single CPU would have to run for 2,300 years in order to do all the number crunching for this movie.

"Cars is the most ambitious film we have ever made, the frames are way more complex. We used 300 times more compute power to make Cars than Toy Story," he explained.

Brandeau added that the rendering system used for animation was creaking under the strain of the new release, prompting a rethink of the firm's storage strategy. "We realized that our rendering time was taking too long. Frames were taking 10 hours [to render] that should have taken one hour."

According to Brandeau, it was not the rendering system, which is based on Dell servers, that was causing the slowdown. On closer inspection, an NFS file system feeding data to the Dell boxes was found to be the source of the problem. "Our central file system was getting hammered in a way it had never been hammered before. The NFS caches couldn't go fast enough -- they did not have enough RAM on them."

Although he did not reveal which vendor provided the NFS, Brandeau confirmed that it was woefully inadequate for the demands of the new movie. "A gigabyte of memory on our file server heads was nowhere near good enough," he said, adding that Pixar needed something in the region of 32 Gbytes.

Like many other users, Brandeau and his team found salvation in a SAN. Pixar eventually opted to replace the NFS with a SAN based on an EMC CX700 box, linked to Dell Linux servers running parallel file system software from startup Ibrix.

The new system, which was deployed last year, has helped cut Pixar's rendering times to their previous levels, while keeping hardware costs to a minimum. "We only have eight little Linux boxes that are serving up that data. We believe strongly that commodity hardware with lots of heads is the way to solve this problem."

This fits in nicely with Pixar's corporate ethos, according to the exec. "When we got started, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together. We never bought the big SGI boxes or InfiniBand -- we use basic Ethernet and standard Dell boxes."

This, apparently, was Ibrix's big selling point. "The idea they have is that instead of building special-purpose hardware, they solve the problem by using inexpensive, CPUs."

Pixar is not the only organization to go down this route. Last year the National Center For Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Amazon.com subsidiary Alexa Internet all opted for commodity-hardware approaches to their file storage. (See NCSA Selects Ibrix, UT Deploys Ibrix , and Alexa Adopts Ibrix.)

Internet on film: A kludgy relationship

Why Hollywood Made Us Fear The Internet; Why The Internet Should Fear Us
Erik Lundegaard

The most dated aspect of “The Net,” the 1995 thriller in which freelance software engineer Sandra Bullock’s entire life is erased by malicious corporate hackers, is not the dial-up accounts, or the floppy discs sent via Fed-Ex, or the almost nostalgia-inducing TCP/IP status windows which tell us: “Router engaged... Establishing link... Connecting... DONE.” No, the most dated aspect is a verb. Trying to fathom how the bad guys discovered such personal information about her — favorite foods and movies and men — Angela Bennett (Bullock) suddenly has an epiphany. “They must have watched it on the Internet!” she cries.

Watched it on the Internet? As if the Internet were the new TV. “What are you doing tonight, honey?” “Oh, I think I’m just gonna stay home and watch some Internet.”

Press control/shift
“The Net” was one of two films that year which directly exploited the growing interest in and fear of this relatively new communications system — which means Hollywood became fascinated with the Internet about the same time Bill Gates did. Not bad.

New technologies generally provoke fear — everyone’s got a bit of a Luddite in them, and most of us assume that what we grew up on should be good enough for anyone — and the Internet, a publicly accessible system of interconnected computer networks, couldn’t help but provoke fear and fascination. It’s a small step from “Wow, you mean I can be connected to anyone?” (think: Madonna) to “Crap, you mean anyone can be connected to me?” (think: Jeffrey Dahmer).

But “The Net” didn’t exploit this fear so much as a general fear of computers. If all of our information is on computers, its logic went, then that information can be erased, and thus our lives can be erased, just as Angela’s mom’s life has been erased by Alzheimer’s. The Internet simply made it easier to gain access to these computers. Of course the evil corporate forces could only do what they do because no one knows Angela. She’s a computer shut-in, and that may be the film’s greater fear: that even if we’re as attractive as Sandra Bullock, we’ll wind up lonely and dateless and waste our time in chatrooms with Iceman and Gandalf and Cyberbob, who chant, in homage to Tod Browning’s “Freaks,” that Angela is “One of us... one of us...”

This is the true terror the film exploits. The Internet? You get floppy discs in the mail which take you to Web pages which, if you click on a Pi icon while control/shifting, will make everything go haywire and on its own take you to top secret Web sites. Yeah, you don’t navigate there; you just kind of wind up there. Why be scared of the Internet? It’s a magical, magical fairyland.

Waka waka
The first time the New York Times used “Internet” in its modern usage was on Nov. 5, 1988, in an article about Robert T. Morris, Jr., the son of an N.S.A. computer security expert, who released a replicating program in the Department of Defense’s Arpanet that eventually infected 6,000 computers “or 10 percent of the systems linked through an international group of communications networks, the Internet.” Although Morris was a 23-year-old Cornell graduate student at the time (and is now a professor at M.I.T.), he became the inspiration for Dade Murphy, the 11-year-old Seattle boy who, going by the online moniker “Zero Cool,” crashes 1,507 computers nationwide in the beginning of 1995’s other big Internet movie, “Hackers.”

“Hackers” and “The Net” may have come out the same year but they are at opposite ends of the fear spectrum. The Internet doesn’t isolate us in “Hackers”; it brings us together into groups of elite geeks who hang in hip cyberclubs and play giant video games while rollerskating to a throbbing techno beat. Not sure which vision is scarier.

There are two kinds of hackers in this world: the adult kind, represented by “The Plague” (Fisher Stevens), who tries to dump oil tankers in the ocean to cover up his embezzlement schemes; and the youthful kind, represented by “Zero Cool/Crash Override” (Jonny Lee Miller) and “Acid Burn” (Angelina Jolie, sporting a Vulcan haircut), who prevent the oil tankers from spilling in the ocean. Sure, the youthful kind may play online pranks; but even when Crash Override hacks into a local TV network, he simply removes a Rush Limbaugh-like fascist from the airwaves and replaces him with a classic episode of “The Outer Limits.”

Of the two films, the high-tech language in “Hackers” is probably more accurate, but this merely demonstrates the problem of accuracy in computer movies. At one point the boys crash Acid Burn’s room and they’re all over her computer. “Check it out, guys!” one cries. “It’s insanely great. It’s got a 28.8 kbps modem!” Yesterday’s elite hardware is today’s Smithsonian artifact.

During the final hacker showdown, of course, all nods towards accuracy are lost in favor of gee-whiz graphics (an eyepatch-wearing Pac-Man) and layman’s language (“I’ll head ‘em off at the pass!”). I’ve never launched a virus personally but according to this you just access the “Virus Launch Panel” on your computer — with LAUNCH, INFECT and GROW options — and wait for Pirate Pac-Man to start eating someone else’s computer data. Waka waka. Waka waka. Yep: a magical, magical fairyland.

Job@Book of Job
“The Net,” released in July ’95, did OK business ($50 million) but “Hackers,” released in September, did not ($7.5 million), and Hollywood soon stopped making these kinds of movies. The Internet cache was short-lived, and anyway there’s nothing visually exciting about someone sitting at a computer — which is why you get all the gee-whiz graphics in the first place. A general rule with high-tech movies: the more exciting the graphics, the less exciting the protagonists.

But as the Internet became part of our lives it also became part of the lives of our movie characters, and began showing up, with all of our ambivalence about the medium intact, in small, supporting roles.

In “Copycat” (1995), agoraphobic psychologist Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) uses the Internet as a means of communicating with the outside world (that’s good); but then a serial killer sends her taunting messages and videos via e-mail (that’s bad). In “First Kid” (1996), the titular brat browses the “Kid Internet” and makes online friends in a “snake chatroom” (that’s...um...good, I guess); but the online friend turns out to be a wacko who wants to kidnap him (that’s bad). The fear of what can come through those phone lines and fiber-optic cables is best reflected in a horrible B-flick called “Ghost in the Machine” (1993), in which a computer-savvy serial killer is zapped into electricity and continues killing via the Internet.

Exaggerations in these movies, obvious 10 years hence, abound. Computer programs are invariably interrupted by a bar-shaped window with a flashing red message: INCOMING E-MAIL. E-mail messages are slid into envelopes and float away on wings. When necessary, computers talk. When pressed for time, passwords are easily decipherable. Hackers tend to be fatsos with long greasy hair or nerds with oversized glasses, but if they’re lead characters they suddenly morph into Angelina Jolie or Hugh Jackman. Nice trick.

Errors in these movies, obvious 19 years hence, also abound. The insufferable teen protagonist in “Ghost in the Machine” tells a friend, “I was just searching around on my computer? I found this great sex program!” That’s some magical computer. Did the sex program come bundled with the operating system or what?

In “Ransom” (1996), CEO Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) receives a phone call from a subordinate telling him...he has an e-mail. Is that how CEOs worked back then? No wonder so many companies failed. The easiest error to spot is the f’ed up e-mail address. The James Bond thriller “Goldeneye” (1995) knew enough to give its hacker a proper suffix (.edu), but in “The Net” Sandy Bullock sends an e-mail to “jg@gms.wrld.” Even a year later the first “Mission: Impossible” (1996) hasn’t figured it out. At one point super agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) creates the account “Job@Book of Job” and receives an e-mail from “Max@Job 3:14.”

A dot, Ethan. Dot something. We’re waiting on a dot.

So did the collision of Hollywood and the Internet lead to the making of any good movies? Yes, but the movie was released before we or the New York Times even knew the term “Internet.” That may be key.

In “WarGames” (1983), Matthew Broderick’s David Lightman owns a TRS-80 monitor. To connect to other computers he has to press his phone into a suction-cup modem. In an attempt to access Protovision, a computer game outfit, he creates a program in which his computer dials every phone number in Protovision’s area code and lets it run until it connects to another computer. When he needs to research a programmer, Dr. Stephen Falken, he actually researches: libraries, card files, microfiche, for God’s sake. This kind of research lent itself to a visual montage. These days he’d just Google “Falken,” which lends itself to nothing. Cue the gee-whiz graphics. Then cue you in the audience going, “That ain’t Google.”

“WarGames,” in other words, had a kind of patience the other Internet movies didn’t. More, its writers, Lawrence Laker and Walter F. Parkes, who would go on to help write 1992’s “Sneakers,” were interested in character. The flirtation between David and Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) is charming, not least because she’s the sexually aggressive one. The two teenagers feel real. Subtle things occur. She traps him between her legs and laughs at his confusion and/or her daring, but nothing comes of it.

After he realizes he hasn’t contacted a computer game company but the NORAD computer, and after the computer calls him back to “finish the game,” he not only takes the phone off the modem, he unplugs it completely and then cradles it in his arms. “WarGames” still works nearly 25 years later because it’s about people, not technology. A suction-cup modem is soon outdated; David Lightman is not.

Whose pipes are these anyway?
By 1998 more of us were online, and since less of the Internet was unknown there was that much less to fear. Which means, God help us, the Internet became safe for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” a two-hour-long commercial for AOL, Starbucks and — through example — Barnes & Noble. At least writer-director Nora Ephron managed to make writing and sending e-mail visually interesting (no mean feat), and she did show the fun of flirting via this new medium; but I’d still like to see the version where ny152@aol.com turns out to be the fat hacker with long greasy hair. Just to see Meg Ryan’s reaction.

But if we didn’t have as much to fear from the Internet as we originally thought, the Internet still has a lot to fear from us.

It was created in a spirit of cooperation and democracy which is now being threatened by businessmen like AT&T’s CEO Ed Whitacre, who, in an interview with BusinessWeek last November, implied that it’s not enough for consumers to pay for ISPs and it’s not enough for host servers to pay for more bandwidth; he now wants each individual Web site to pay for consumer access. He wants money coming and going and coming again, and in doing so he will create what the Internet has never had: a hierarchy. “We and the cable companies have made an investment,” he told BusinessWeek, “and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!”

I’m not a businessman. I’m not a computer geek either. When the Internet was in its early stages and money could be made from it, I wasn’t interested. Now that its origins are part of history, I’m fascinated. That’s how much of an idiot I am. Wherever money can’t be made, that’s where you’ll find me.

Ed Whitacre doesn’t have this problem. He reportedly made $17 million last year, with a pension of over $5 million-per-year waiting for him. AT&T reported a profit of over $4.7 billion in 2005. Now they want more.

Here’s the problem I have with these guys. There are people who create something and if they’re lucky they make money from it. Tim Berners-Lee, now a Sir, created the World Wide Web in 1989. I hope he made some money from this act of creation; he changed the world. Guys like Ed Whitacre, on the other hand, create little. They simply take an existing thing and try to squeeze more money out of it. It doesn’t matter if, in the act of squeezing, they ruin the thing, as long as money is extracted. The bankruptcy of our culture is embodied in the ascendancy of these guys.

So a fictional corporation tried to erase Sandra Bullock’s life. A fictional corporation tried to dump oil tankers in the ocean. If only real corporations thought that small.

Erik Lundegaard supports net neutrality. You can read more about it at: http://www.savetheinternet.com/.

Pelé Joins the MPAA

The Football World Cup started yesterday in Germany. The MPAA has a great sense of timing and announced yesterday that they “hired” the footie legend Pelé, to score a goal against piracy.

Pelé, the Brazilian legend, worked with the MPAA before in 2004, when his very own movie “pele forever” was pirated and distributed among the less fortunate Latin American street children. Today, he found his friends again; ready to score a goal in the MPAA’s war against piracy.

Pelé, “embodies the notion of fair play,” says the MPAA

The MPAA press release goes on:

“We are honored to have a distinguished teammate in Pelé in our fight against film copyright theft,” said Chairman and CEO of the MPAA Dan Glickman. “Pelé has a reputation for fair play and in this public service announcement, he carries that message to people - urging them to do the right thing by renting, buying or downloading movies legally.”

In the meanwhile, the pirates have the ball, and you can use google for the latest results.

4K framing, 8TB movies

James Bond 007: Licensed to Mac
Jonny Evans

Macs have been instrumental in breathing new life into classic English spy James Bond.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the July 17 release of the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD Collection - and this time the infamous secret service spy isn't just licensed to kill, he's also licensed to Mac.

Unseen footage, better quality with 5:1 surround

The collection - which took over two and a half years to put together - includes digitally enhanced versions of all the James Bond movies; sound and images look sharper and sound better than ever before thanks to new 5:1 surround sound.

All twenty James Bond movies are available as part of this collection, from 1962's 'Dr No' to 2002's 'Die Another Day'.

The videos also offer a vast range of meticulously researched archive material, including host of never-before-seen interviews and on-set footage.

There's even a rarely seen clip showing the riot that took place in Soho outside the premiere of the first ever film, during which a police officer was knocked through a glass window.

The bonus footage was assembled by Ian Fleming Foundation founder and world-renowned Bond expert John Cork, who explains: "We found interviews that have never been seen since they were first broadcast, of all five Bonds," adding: "We even found footage of Roger Moore playing Bond in a 1964 TV skit!"

Reliable Macs rule the roost

For Mac users, the story grows even more interesting, as the images and sound were remastered by DTS Digital Images (once Lowry Digital Images) using a huge installation of 600 Power Mac G5s.

The project needed that kind of horsepower, explained DTS Images vice president of strategy and marketing, Mike Inchalik, who stressed: "Certainly, the Mac is the only computer that's touched this project."

Inchalik, who used PCs extensively in his previous career at Eastman Kodak, stressed that his company is very happy with how reliable Macs are: "Historically, when I joined the company it had about 200 Power Mac G4s. It was refreshing how reliable they were," he explained.

Fan failure turned out to be the biggest technical problem in the G4's, he said, adding, "with the Power Mac G5 we have six fans. It's a different world, but we are still thrilled with how reliable they are."

Amazing stats

Reliability matters: DTS had to check an astonishing 42-miles of film as part of the project. The company had to digitally remove a mind-boggling 37 million pieces of dirt and 74,000 hairs before it even began to touch-up the colour, so that even the oldest Bond movies now look as fresh as if they had been made this year.

The company deployed 700 Terabytes of storage to support the project. Company founder John Lowry explained: "This is true frame-by-frame digital restoration. When you have 42 miles of film, there's a lot to clean up."

The project team also worked to a higher resolution than DVDs support, offering a route forward to release the digitised classics on other formats in future. The film was scanned at a resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels, in contrast with the 720 x
576 pixel resolution of DVDs. This meant that each frame of each movie weighed in at 45MB.

How do they do it?

Lowry explained the laborious, time-intensive process: "We use information from many frames to create each new image. The grain noise is random from one image to the next, but we correlate the picture elements from frame to frame so we reduce the noise while extracting the finest detail from the images."

This reduces movie grain to a consistent level across the movie, making for a sharper image in the digitally restored film.

Inchalik (who led the team that designed Kodak's very first digital film scanner in the 1970s), explained why his company chose Macs - and cost of ownership is critical.

"Apple is our defacto solution," he said. "Costs of ownership include repair, power and heat demands. Power is a big issue for us, as we are based in South California. We basically look at how many gigaflops of computing performance we get per operating dollar."

Apple needs to remain focused on the same matter to retain these large-scale Mac deployments, he warned: "Power Mac G5s remain at the top of that heap, but it may not be easy for them to stay there," he said.

iPod enhancements are possible

He also hinted that the kind of technology DTS uses to enhance movies for better-quality DVDs and HD output could also be used to serve the emerging portable video industry.

"It's interesting. On the one hand the industry is looking at how it can ensure the highest quality viewing experience on new formats like HD, but it is also looking at delivering the best possible experience on small screens - iPods and mobile phones, for example, which is a whole different game," he observed.

"There are things we can do to make for a better quality viewing experience on iPods," he said.

Inside Apple's iPod Factories
Macworld staff

Apple's iPods are made by mainly female workers who earn as little as £27 per month, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday yesterday.

The report, 'iPod City', isn't available online. It offers photographs taken from inside the factories that make Apple music players, situated in China and owned by Foxconn.

The Mail visited some of these factories and spoke with staff there. It reports that Foxconn's Longhua plant houses 200,000 workers, remarking: "This iPod City has a population bigger than Newcastle's."

The report claims Longhua's workers live in dormitories that house 100 people, and that visitors from the outside world are not permitted. Workers toil for 15-hours a day to make the iconic music player, the report claims. They earn £27 per month. The report reveals that the iPod nano is made in a five-storey factory (E3) that is secured by police officers.

Another factory in Suzhou, Shanghai, makes iPod shuffles. The workers are housed outside the plant, and earn £54 per month - but they must pay for their accommodation and food, "which takes up half their salaries", the report observes.

A security guard told the Mail reporters that the iPod shuffle production lines are staffed by women workers because "they are more honest than male workers".

The report also explains that the nano contains 400 parts, and that its flash memory is the most expensive component. The report looks at several salient components of the nano, and describes the product as a reflecting the global way business works today. This is because the iPod nano contains parts developed by technology companies from across the planet.

Apple is just one of thousands of companies that now use Chinese facilities to manufacture its products, the report observes. Low wages, long hours and China's industrial secrecy make the country attractive to business, particularly as increased competition and consumer expectations force companies to deliver products at attractive prices.

Dispute Over Evidence in Pellicano Wiretap Case
David M. Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner

The nearly four-year federal investigation of Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye accused of masterminding a sprawling eavesdropping operation, has turned up only a single recording in which two people were unknowingly wiretapped, prosecutors said in court on Monday.

Even code-crackers from unspecified government agencies have failed so far to decipher the passwords Mr. Pellicano may have used to stash away many more surreptitiously recorded phone calls in his computer drives, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyers, meanwhile, are questioning whether even the single wiretap the government claims to have discovered is really that, or something else entirely.

The government said its evidence included hundreds of recorded calls in which Mr. Pellicano can be heard boasting of his wiretaps, describing them in detail, and even playing back portions of them for his clients. The detective routinely recorded his own calls, and the government has not faced the same encryption problems with those.

The disclosures mean that, barring a last-minute break in the investigation, the government's case will be based far more on circumstantial evidence and witnesses' testimony than on direct evidence of illegal wiretapping.

The developments came in a contentious court hearing over evidence that defense lawyers have been waiting for since the indictments of Mr. Pellicano and seven other people on wiretapping and conspiracy charges in February. Defense lawyers complained Monday that prosecutors had turned over too little, too late, missing a Friday deadline and continuing to withhold a large amount of important evidence.

For example, prosecutors said they still would not turn over some 250 recorded phone calls and other evidence that remain the focus of the ongoing investigation. The lead prosecutor, Daniel A. Saunders, an assistant United States attorney, has said that more indictments are forthcoming.

Mr. Saunders and another prosecutor, Kevin M. Lally, said they had turned over some 22,000 pages of written evidence and would soon provide another 100,000 pages of case files from underlying legal matters that Mr. Pellicano was investigating. The government charges that Mr. Pellicano put his wiretapping to work on behalf of corrupt lawyers seeking an illegal and unfair advantage in litigation — much of it involving the entertainment industry, but also including divorces and criminal cases.

What has not been publicly disclosed are the details of the single recording in the government's possession that it says is an illegal wiretap. According to written summaries of F.B.I. interviews seen by The New York Times, the recording concerns events that led to the divorce of a Los Angeles billionaire, Alec E. Gores, from his wife, Lisa A. Gores, in 2001.

If the government fails to crack Mr. Pellicano's passwords and turn up other direct evidence of wiretaps, that means the prosecution's star witnesses could be forced to make their painful private drama public.

Mr. Gores, principal of the private equity firm Gores Technology Group, admitted hiring Mr. Pellicano in 2000 to investigate his suspicions that his wife was cheating on him with his younger brother, Thomas T. Gores, another billionaire investor, according to summaries of F.B.I. interviews with all three family members. (A third brother, Sam Gores, runs the Paradigm talent agency.)

Mr. Pellicano installed wiretaps on both Lisa and Tom Gores's telephones, the summaries show, and confirmed Alec Gores's suspicions that the two had become inappropriately involved. Alec Gores admitted to the F.B.I. that he listened to Mr. Pellicano's wiretaps on several occasions, the summaries show. Alec Gores has not been charged, and has been assured he is only a witness in the case, said his lawyer, Louis Miller, who is also known as Skip.

The sole recording the government says was a wiretap contains a conversation that occurred the evening of Jan. 8, 2001, as Lisa and Tom Gores spoke on the phone hours after they had met at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Last November, F.B.I. summaries show, Lisa Gores listened to the recording and confirmed for investigators that the voices on it were hers and Tom Gores's.

But defense lawyers dispute whether the recording is really a wiretap. "Just because they say it, doesn't mean it's true," said Steven F. Gruel, Mr. Pellicano's lawyer. "It could be anything."

Defense lawyers said that Mr. Pellicano routinely taped his own phone calls, and that he frequently played previously recorded conversations for his clients over the phone, rather than in person. Thus, they say, the recording of Lisa and Tom Gores could actually have been a second-generation recording, rather than an original wiretap.

"Pellicano's position has been, all along, there are no wiretaps," Mr. Gruel said.

With a trial set for Oct. 24 and the federal investigation far from complete, both the strengths and the weaknesses of the government's case were on full display Monday.

Beyond whether the Gores recording is an original wiretapped recording, for example, there is the question of how strong a witness Alec Gores will be, given his own admissions that he knew of Mr. Pellicano's illegal activity. In his F.B.I. interview, Alec Gores said he paid Mr. Pellicano at least $50,000, lent him at least $50,000 more that was never repaid, and paid for a Hawaii vacation for Mr. Pellicano's whole family as a bonus for his work. He said Mr. Pellicano had worked for him for five to six months. And he said that "on at least two occasions, and possibly a third, Pellicano played Gores recordings of Lisa and Tom Gores talking on the telephone."

Mr. Miller, Alec Gores's lawyer, insisted that his client "has done absolutely nothing wrong." Asked about the summaries of Mr. Gores's statements to the F.B.I., Mr. Miller said he wished he could "comment to correct and/or clarify some of the information" contained in them, but "since my client is a witness, I cannot do so."

Even without a single undisputed wiretap to play for a jury, Mr. Saunders and Mr. Lally argued in court that they had plenty of ammunition with which to convict Mr. Pellicano and his co-defendants. They said they had "dozens of witnesses" who listened to wiretaps or even helped implement them, and "hundreds of calls" in which Mr. Pellicano played previously wiretapped conversations. In many of those recordings, the prosecutors said, Mr. Pellicano boasted to clients of what he had heard on his wiretaps — often reporting that he had eavesdropped on their legal adversaries discussing their litigation strategy.

Defense lawyers on Monday made much of the government's failure thus far to break the password protection on many of Mr. Pellicano's audio files. Prosecutors said they could at least provide a breakdown of the call times, participants and subject matter, because Mr. Pellicano incorporated that information into his computer file names.

But defense lawyers complained to Judge Dale S. Fischer of United States District Court that Mr. Pellicano's still-encrypted files could contain vital exculpatory evidence. "We're just wandering in the fog right now, without much clarity," said Terree A. Bowers, who is defending Terry N. Christensen, the lead partner in a Century City law firm, who is charged with wiretapping and conspiracy.

Mr. Saunders retorted that "passwords don't change the content" of Mr. Pellicano's digital recordings. "They don't make Terry Christensen say, 'Oh, please wiretap her, when he said, 'No, please don't wiretap her,' " he said.

Mr. Bowers pleaded with the court to order the government to provide a breakdown of all the recordings prosecutors had not turned over, detailing what they contain and the government's reason for withholding them from the defense. Judge Fischer agreed, ordering that an outside referee be appointed to review the government's evidence and decide whether it should be turned over to the defense.

Mr. Bowers scolded the prosecutors, saying they had moved ahead with indictments while still unprepared for trial.

"We need to know what they're withholding and why they're withholding it," Mr. Bowers said of the government. "We urged the government not to go into this prematurely. Here we are still waiting for the tapes to be decoded."

Mr. Saunders, in response, said that if defense lawyers were so eager to crack the code, they could simply consult Mr. Pellicano, who sat opposite the government's table, in chains and a green jailhouse jacket. "The man with the passwords, your honor, is sitting right there across the courtroom," Mr. Saunders said.

Defense Seek Evidence In Wiretapping Case
Greg Risling

Defense attorneys for a private investigator accused of eavesdropping on Hollywood celebrities scolded federal prosecutors Monday for not turning over evidence.

"It's their obligation to provide us what we need to exonerate our clients," said attorney Terree Bowers, adding that the process has been "like pulling teeth."

Defense attorneys noted that the 112-count indictment against private investigator Anthony Pellicano was unsealed in February after a more than three-year investigation.

Prosecutors said part of the delay has come from difficulty in decrypting about 1,300 audio files Pellicano made of his phone conversations. More than 350 audio files have been given to defense attorneys, but others haven't because the material was irrelevant, said federal prosecutor Daniel Saunders.

Prosecutors accuse Pellicano of tapping the phones of Hollywood stars such as Sylvester Stallone and paying two police officers to run names, including those of comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through a government database. The alleged motive was to gain advantage in criminal and civil litigation.

A total of 14 people have been charged, including Pellicano. Six have pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy and wiretapping. Pellicano's trial is scheduled for Oct. 24.

Prosecutors turned over some evidence before Monday's hearing. Defense attorney Chad Hummel said he plans to ask the judge to throw out any evidence they offer in the future. Prosecutors have promised more charges are coming.

The judge ordered the appointment of a special master to review the evidence and determine what defense attorneys will be allowed to see.

Appeals Court Backs Bush On Wiretaps
Pete Yost

A federal appeals court sided with the Bush administration Friday on an electronic surveillance issue, making it easier to tap into Internet phone calls and broadband transmissions.

The court ruled 2-1 in favor of the Federal Communications Commission, which says equipment using the new technologies must be able to accommodate police wiretaps under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, known as CALEA.

Judge David Sentelle called the agency's reading of the law a reasonable interpretation. In dissent, Judge Harry Edwards said the FCC gutted an exemption for information services that he said covered the Internet and broadband.

The FCC "apparently forgot to read the words of the statute," Edwards wrote.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin said the decision ensures that law enforcement's ability to conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance will keep pace with new technology.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, primary sponsor of CALEA, called the court's decision contrary to congressional intent, saying it stretches a law written for "the telephone system of 1994 to cover the Internet of 2006."

Education groups challenged the FCC rule because they said the requirements would impose burdensome new costs on private university networks. They argued that broadband Internet access is an information service beyond the reach of CALEA.

The American Council on Education said it was encouraged by part of the court's ruling that the law does not apply to private networks, which include many research institutions and corporations.

But more broadly, "we believe we had established a strong legal case that CALEA did not apply to providers of facilities-based Internet access or voice-over-IP," the education council said.

Challengers to the FCC rule focused on a Supreme Court case upholding the FCC's classification of broadband as an integrated information service under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Therefore, the education groups said, broadband providers must fall within the exemption for information services in CALEA.

But the appeals court said CALEA and the Telecom act are different laws and that the Supreme Court did not find that broadband Internet access was exclusively an information service.

The two laws reflect different objectives and the commission made a reasonable policy choice, wrote Sentelle, an appointee of President Reagan.

Jim Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a private group, said the decision "threatens the privacy rights of innocent Americans as well as the ability of technology companies to innovate freely."

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who sided with Sentelle, is an appointee of President George W. Bush. Edwards was appointed by President Carter

Have @it: A History Of The @ Sign

A blue sky. The nature of love. A child's smile. The "@" symbol.

Some things are so common place that you scarcely notice them. But that doesn't make them any less fascinating. Take the humble "@" symbol, for instance.

It's something we use dozens—perhaps hundreds—of times a day. This little "a" with the curved tail is inextricably linked to the instantaneous communication that we, as a society, are dependent upon.

But where is @ from, exactly?

Let's go back to the 6th or 7th century. Latin scribes, rubbing their wrists with history's first twinges of carpal tunnel syndrome, tried to save a little effort by shortening the Latin word ad (at, to, or toward) by stretching the upstroke of "d" and curving it over the "a".

Italian researchers unearthed 14th-century documents, where the @ sign represented a measure of quantity. The symbol also appeared in a 15th-century Latin-Spanish dictionary, defined as a gauge of weight, and soon after—according to ancient letters—was referenced as an amphora, a standard-sized clay vessel used to carry wine and grain.

Over the next few hundred years our plucky @ sign was used in trade to mean "at the price of" before resting on the first Underwood typewriter keyboard in 1885, then later rubbing symbolic shoulders with QWERTY on modern keyboards in the 1940s.

Then, one day in late 1971, computer engineer Ray Tomlinson grappled with how to properly address what would be history's very first e-mail. After 30 seconds of intense thought, he decided to separate the name of his intended recipient and their location by using the "@" symbol. He needed something that wouldn't appear in anyone's name, and settled on the ubiquitous symbol, with the added bonus of the character representing the word "at," as in, hey_you@wherever_you_happen_to_work.com.

And while in the English language, we know it as the "at symbol," it goes by many other unusual pseudonyms throughout the world.

· In South Africa, it means "monkey's tail"
· In Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia it's the "Crazy"
· In the Czech Republic, it's "pickled herring"
· The Danish refer to it as "alpha-sign," "elephant's trunk," or "pig's tail."
· The French often refer to it as "little snail."
· In Greece, it's "little duck."
· In Hungary, it's called "maggot"
· In Mandarin Chinese, it's the "mouse sign."
· The Poles say "little cat" or "pig's ear."
· Russians often refer to it as "little dog."
· There's no official word for it in Thailand, but "wiggling worm-like character."
· The Turks lovingly describe it as "ear."

But an "@" by any other name is just as sweet. Online, it's at the heart of every user's identity. It represents the breathless urgency of our connected culture: clear, concise, typographical shorthand for lobbing our thoughts, needs, and ideas to nearly anyone else in the world. Instantly.

Its ubiquity and urgency has transcended the Latin alphabet of its origins to worm its way into other language groups, including Arabic and Japanese.

And that, web wanderers, is where it's @.

Anti-Trust Officials Cautious About iTunes Attack
David Lawsky

European competition officials are wary about proposals to crack open Apple Computer's <AAPL.O> iTunes Web store to other music players, despite concerns shown by consumer advocates.

The French parliament is debating a new copyright bill that would require Apple to permit iTunes music to play on devices other than its iPod.

Scandinavian ombudsmen have said they may act, and others in the European Union are also contemplating doing so.

But Philip Lowe, director general of competition at the European Commission, said that although some member states believed there should be open access to all Web sites, he wanted to wait.

"We wouldn't at this stage regard this as an instance of major concern until we've seen further market developments," Lowe told reporters this week.

He said Apple had obtained its strong market position in open competition with many similar players, including some with their own Web sites.

Protecting Future Consumers?

One of the most outspoken government advocates on the issue is Norwegian consumer ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon, who said he would act soon depending on how Apple responds to a letter the government had sent the company.

If Apple can require an iPod for songs via iTunes, then music, book and film companies might restrict their products to specific players too, he said.

"You will have a difficult situation for the consumer ... the consumer has to have four or five gadgets to have the availability of the content that he wants," Thon said in a telephone interview.

"We want to look at the question before it is too late."

Thon cited Norwegian consumer law as saying contracts must be "fair and balanced", adding that the approach taken by Apple violated "basic consumer principles".

"We believe that it could be questioned (as) an infringement of rights. I have the right to use whatever I bought to what I want to use it for," he said.

Thon is waiting to see what Apple says when it replies to a letter from his department by a deadline this summer. He said his office was reviewing its options, but could bring charges against Apple in Norway's market court.

However, the question of using proprietary standards to exclude competitors is usually handled by antitrust enforcers. Even in Norway, a top antitrust enforcer is cautioning against hasty action.

"The market for legally downloadable music files is emerging," said Knut Eggum Johansen, director general of Norway's competition agency.

"This may be an argument for competition authorities to have a somewhat more hands-off approach," he said. Johansen noted that many other firms produced portable music players, and music purchased via iTunes could be bought on CDs or other Web sites.

Microsoft Readying Apple iPod Rival: Sources

Software giant Microsoft Corp. is laying the groundwork to compete against Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod digital entertainment device and iTunes service, sources familiar with the discussions and plans said on Friday.

Microsoft has held licensing discussions with the music industry to create its own music service, the sources told Reuters.

The Redmond, Washington-based developer of software that runs most of the world's PCs is also demonstrating an entertainment device that plays videos and music, the sources said.

It is unclear when Microsoft plans to launch, they said.

Microsoft's software technology has provided the copyright framework for a handful of subscription music services globally. But these services have failed to topple Apple's dominance in music and device sales, despite well financed backers including Yahoo Inc..

Apple and Microsoft were not immediately reachable for comment.

Microsoft Set To Patch Word, ActiveX

On Tuesday the company plans to release a whopping twelve security patches for its products
Robert McMillan

Windows administrators are going to be busy next week, as Microsoft plans to release twelve security patches for its products. The updates will include a fix for a widely reported vulnerability in Microsoft Word, as well as changes to the way Internet Explorer (IE) handles ActiveX that might cause headaches for some.

Nine of the patches will address vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system, some of which Microsoft rates critical. There will also be one "Important" fix for Microsoft Exchange, and two patches for Microsoft Office, including software that repairs the Word bug.

Last month hackers began e-mailing the Word malware to a handful of victims -- mostly within government agencies or contractors -- in a series of extremely targeted attacks, said Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute.

But as knowledge of the Word flaw has spread, researchers like Ullrich fear that it may be used in a more widespread attack. The vulnerability can be exploited to run unauthorized software on PCs, although users must first be first tricked into opening a maliciously encoded Word document.

Microsoft also plans to finalize changes to the way IE processes dynamic content using ActiveX. Microsoft is changing the way IE works in response to a 2003 patent lawsuit loss to the University of California and Eolas Technologies Inc.

The changes will force developers to reprogram parts of their Web sites and intranets. Otherwise, IE will force users to click on a pop-up "tool tip" dialog box before being able to interact with things like Flash or QuickTime.

Microsoft has actually been rolling these changes into IE for months, but has offered users a "compatibility patch" that allowed IE to work on Web sites that had not been reprogrammed. With Tuesday's updates, though, there will be no way to avoid the ActiveX changes.

The biggest headache, however, will come from the sheer number of updates being released Tuesday, said Susan Bradley, chief technology officer with Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun, Accountancy Corp.

Complicating matters is the fact that these patches will be released in the middle of Microsoft's Tech-Ed user conference. "I'll be at Tech-Ed in Boston and deciding if I remotely patch over the weekend or not," Bradley said via e-mail.

Windows Gets Big Security Update

One of the biggest security updates for more than a year is being released by Microsoft to fix 12 software flaws.

Nine of the updates apply to the Windows operating system and one is deemed critical, a rating reserved for the most serious security problems.

At least one of the loopholes being patched is already being actively exploited by malicious hackers.

Windows users are being urged to download the patches as soon as they become available on Tuesday 13 June.

Support shift

Microsoft issues its security patches on the second Tuesday of every month and June's update will be the biggest for more than a year.

This is because Microsoft is not only tackling security problems but also the fallout of a legal case that the software giant lost.

We strongly recommend that those of you who are still running these older versions of Windows upgrade to a newer, more secure version, such as Windows XP SP2, as soon as possible - Microsoft advice

Microsoft gives advance notice of what is in its security patches to help companies plan how best to install the software and limit the impact on day-to-day business.

While most of the updates apply to Windows, two are for the Office suite of products and one for the Exchange e-mail server software.

One of the security problems being tackled in Office was found in Microsoft's Word software and the virus created to exploit it has been dubbed Backdoor.Ginwui. The virus and loophole were first discovered in mid-May.

The virus travels in an e-mail bearing a Word document that purports to summarise the results of a US-Asia summit.

Legal woes

Another of the updates has come about as a result of a courtroom clash between Microsoft and Eolas over technology in the Internet Explorer browser. The lawsuit ended with a $521m (£283m) judgement against Microsoft.

Microsoft had to re-engineer Internet Explorer to stop a technology known as ActiveX automatically starting when users visit some websites.

Before now, users could choose to apply this change to their browser, but this update makes it mandatory.

At the same time as information about the update was being released, Microsoft mentioned that it will not be able to patch Windows 98 and ME against a loophole discovered in April 2006.

Fixing this bug in the ageing software would require a major re-write of the Windows Explorer program used in these old copies of the operating system.

Microsoft is not prepared to undertake this work, given that all support for Windows 98 and ME ends on 11 July 2006.

On its security blog Microsoft wrote: "We strongly recommend that those of you who are still running these older versions of Windows upgrade to a newer, more secure version, such as Windows XP SP2, as soon as possible."

New Mathematical Method Provides Better Way To Analyze Noise

Humans have 200 million light receptors in their eyes, 10 to 20 million receptors devoted to smell, but only 8,000 dedicated to sound. Yet despite this miniscule number, the auditory system is the fastest of the five senses. Researchers credit this discrepancy to a series of lightning-fast calculations in the brain that translate minimal input into maximal understanding. And whatever those calculations are, they’re far more precise than any sound-analysis program that exists today.

In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marcelo Magnasco, professor and head of the Mathematical Physics Laboratory at Rockefeller University, has published a paper that may prove to be a sound-analysis breakthrough, featuring a mathematical method or “algorithm” that’s far more nuanced at transforming sound into a visual representation than current methods. “This outperforms everything in the market as a general method of sound analysis,” Magnasco says. In fact, he notes, it may be the same type of method the brain actually uses.

Magnasco collaborated with Timothy Gardner, a former Rockefeller graduate student who is now a Burroughs Wellcome Fund fellow at MIT, to figure out how to get computers to process complex, rapidly changing sounds the same way the brain does. They struck upon a mathematical method that reassigned a sound’s rate and frequency data into a set of points that they could make into a histogram — a visual, two-dimensional map of how a sound’s individual frequencies move in time. When they tested their technique against other sound-analysis programs, they found that it gave them a much greater ability to tease out the sound they were interested in from the noise that surrounded it.

One fundamental observation enabled this vast improvement: They were able to visualize the areas in which there was no sound at all. The two researchers used white noise — hissing similar to what you might hear on an un-tuned FM radio — because it’s the most complex sound available, with exactly the same amount of energy at all frequency levels. When they plugged their algorithm into a computer, it reassigned each tone and plotted the data points on a graph in which the x-axis was time and the y-axis was frequency.

The resulting histograms showed thin, froth-like images, each “bubble” encircling a blue spot. Each blue spot indicated a zero, or a moment during which there was no sound at a particular frequency. “There is a theorem,” Magnasco says, “that tells us that we can know what the sound was by knowing when there was no sound.” In other words, their pictures were being determined not by where there was volume, but where there was silence.

“If you want to show that your analysis is a valid signal estimation method, you have to understand what a sound looks like when it’s embedded in noise,” Magnasco says. So he added a constant tone beneath the white noise. That tone appeared in their histograms as a thin yellow band, bubble edges converging in a horizontal line that cut straight through the center of the froth. This, he says, proves that their algorithm is a viable method of analysis, and one that may be related to how the mammalian brain parses sound.

“The applications are immense, and can be used in most fields of science and technology,” Magnasco says. And those applications aren’t limited to sound, either. It can be used for any kind of data in which a series of time points are juxtaposed with discrete frequencies that are important to pick up. Radar and sonar both depend on this kind of time-frequency analysis, as does speech-recognition software. Medical tests such as electroencephalograms (EEGs), which measure multiple, discrete brainwaves use it, too.

Geologists use time-frequency data to determine the composition of the ground under a surveyor’s feet, and an angler’s fishfinder uses the method to determine the water’s depth and locate schools of fish. But current methods are far from exact, so the algorithm has plenty of potential opportunities. “If we were able to do extremely high-resolution time-frequency analysis, we’d get unbelievable amounts of information from technologies like radar,” Magnasco says. “With radar now, for instance, you’d be able to tell there was a helicopter. With this algorithm, you’d be able to pick out each one of its blades.” With this algorithm, researchers could one day give computers the same acuity as human ears, and give cochlear implants the power of 8,000 hair cells.

Pentagon Sets Its Sights On Social Networking Websites
Paul Marks

"I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software. He is far from alone in noticing that fast-growing social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster are a snoop's dream.

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Americans are still reeling from last month's revelations that the NSA has been logging phone calls since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The Congressional Research Service, which advises the US legislature, says phone companies that surrendered call records may have acted illegally. However, the White House insists that the terrorist threat makes existing wire-tapping legislation out of date and is urging Congress not to investigate the NSA's action.

Meanwhile, the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone's contact network, a process sometimes called "connecting the dots". Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or "degrees" separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation.

By adding online social networking data to its phone analyses, the NSA could connect people at deeper levels, through shared activities, such as taking flying lessons. Typically, online social networking sites ask members to enter details of their immediate and extended circles of friends, whose blogs they might follow. People often list other facets of their personality including political, sexual, entertainment, media and sporting preferences too. Some go much further, and a few have lost their jobs by publicly describing drinking and drug-taking exploits. Young people have even been barred from the orthodox religious colleges that they are enrolled in for revealing online that they are gay.

"You should always assume anything you write online is stapled to your resumé. People don't realise you get Googled just to get a job interview these days," says Callas.

Other data the NSA could combine with social networking details includes information on purchases, where we go (available from cellphone records, which cite the base station a call came from) and what major financial transactions we make, such as buying a house.

Right now this is difficult to do because today's web is stuffed with data in incompatible formats. Enter the semantic web, which aims to iron out these incompatibilities over the next few years via a common data structure called the Resource Description Framework (RDF). W3C hopes that one day every website will use RDF to give each type of data a unique, predefined, unambiguous tag.

"RDF turns the web into a kind of universal spreadsheet that is readable by computers as well as people," says David de Roure at the University of Southampton in the UK, who is an adviser to W3C. "It means that you will be able to ask a website questions you couldn't ask before, or perform calculations on the data it contains." In a health record, for instance, a heart attack will have the same semantic tag as its more technical description, a myocardial infarction. Previously, they would have looked like separate medical conditions. Each piece of numerical data, such as the rate of inflation or the number of people killed on the roads, will also get a tag.

The advantages for scientists, for instance, could be huge: they will have unprecedented access to each other's experimental datasets and will be able to perform their own analyses on them. Searching for products such as holidays will become easier as price and availability dates will have smart tags, allowing powerful searches across hundreds of sites.

On the downside, this ease of use will also make prying into people's lives a breeze. No plan to mine social networks via the semantic web has been announced by the NSA, but its interest in the technology is evident in a funding footnote to a research paper delivered at the W3C's WWW2006 conference in Edinburgh, UK, in late May.

That paper, entitled Semantic Analytics on Social Networks, by a research team led by Amit Sheth of the University of Georgia in Athens and Anupam Joshi of the University of Maryland in Baltimore reveals how data from online social networks and other databases can be combined to uncover facts about people. The footnote said the work was part-funded by an organisation called ARDA.

What is ARDA? It stands for Advanced Research Development Activity. According to a report entitled Data Mining and Homeland Security, published by the Congressional Research Service in January, ARDA's role is to spend NSA money on research that can "solve some of the most critical problems facing the US intelligence community". Chief among ARDA's aims is to make sense of the massive amounts of data the NSA collects - some of its sources grow by around 4 million gigabytes a month.

The ever-growing online social networks are part of the flood of internet information that could be mined: some of the top sites like MySpace now have more than 80 million members (see Graph).

The research ARDA funded was designed to see if the semantic web could be easily used to connect people. The research team chose to address a subject close to their academic hearts: detecting conflicts of interest in scientific peer review. Friends cannot peer review each other's research papers, nor can people who have previously co-authored work together.

So the team developed software that combined data from the RDF tags of online social network Friend of a Friend (www.foaf-project.org), where people simply outline who is in their circle of friends, and a semantically tagged commercial bibliographic database called DBLP, which lists the authors of computer science papers.

Joshi says their system found conflicts between potential reviewers and authors pitching papers for an internet conference. "It certainly made relationship finding between people much easier," Joshi says. "It picked up softer [non-obvious] conflicts we would not have seen before."

The technology will work in exactly the same way for intelligence and national security agencies and for financial dealings, such as detecting insider trading, the authors say. Linking "who knows who" with purchasing or bank records could highlight groups of terrorists, money launderers or blacklisted groups, says Sheth.

The NSA recently changed ARDA's name to the Disruptive Technology Office. The DTO's interest in online social network analysis echoes the Pentagon's controversial post 9/11 Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative. That programme, designed to collect, track and analyse online data trails, was suspended after a public furore over privacy in 2002. But elements of the TIA were incorporated into the Pentagon's classified programme in the September 2003 Defense Appropriations Act.

Privacy groups worry that "automated intelligence profiling" could sully people's reputations or even lead to miscarriages of justice - especially since the data from social networking sites may often be inaccurate, untrue or incomplete, De Roure warns.

But Tim Finin, a colleague of Joshi's, thinks the spread of such technology is unstoppable. "Information is getting easier to merge, fuse and draw inferences from. There is money to be made and control to be gained in doing so. And I don't see much that will stop it," he says.

Callas thinks people have to wise up to how much information about themselves they should divulge on public websites. It may sound obvious, he says, but being discreet is a big part of maintaining privacy. Time, perhaps, to hit the delete button.

BT Exec Pins Google As 'Our Biggest Threat'
David Meyer

Google is becoming BT's biggest competitor--that's the surprise assessment coming from the telecom giant's chief information officer.

Speaking at the Gigaworld IT conference here, CIO Al-Noor Ramji told delegates on Wednesday that U.K.-based BT needs to change to keep pace with fast-moving businesses such as Google.

"We see Google as our biggest threat," Ramji said. "They don't mean to...it's almost incidental." He acknowledged that Google comes from a "different world" but suggested that it had "morphed" into a different company and warned that Google could do anything BT could do in the consumer arena.

However, while conceding that he did not know the endgame, Ramji claimed that BT "can do anything Google can do" if it moves beyond its traditional role as a supplier of telecommunications services.

"I've learned that technology is the easiest thing to do. The transformation of the company is most important," he said.

Ramji also referred to the challenges that lay ahead in BT's expansion into Internet Protocol television (IPTV), with its BT Vision service.

Citing new online services such as YouTube, the CIO said BT's customers had "morphed into three different roles now: customer, supplier and competitor."

Analysts were quick to add a heavy note of caution to Ramji's statements.

"I think he's a little bit ahead of his time," said Lars Godell, principal analyst in Forrester's Telecom & Networks research team. "I give him credit for thinking ahead and being proactive about competitive threats. But on the other hand the question is, is the threat realistic? Google doesn't see BT as a competitor."

"I think consumers still need to pay for bandwidth. That's the business of a telco, and I don't see Google becoming a full service telco. I don't see Google owning an infrastructure," Godell told ZDNet UK.

Google has made some moves into the telecom space in recent months, with its involvement in the launch of free wireless services in California.

The search giant also sparked a wave of speculation in 2005 when it began showing interest in unused fiber networks. Analysts, though, suggested that Google was more likely to be looking at cutting the cost of connecting its data centers, rather than offering telecom services.

Referring to the services that BT plans to introduce later this year, Godell said: "It will take five to 10 years before those value-added services will become more important (than providing bandwidth) to a telco's revenue stream."

"I don't think it will be easy for BT or anyone else to move into content," Godell said, adding that "BT has been in IT services for 20 years--the skills that are needed to be successful in content are so different from those needed for telecoms."

He also suggested that the motivation for Ramji's statements may stem from a desire to fire up his IT team.

"Many executives like to talk about external threats--sometimes it's to energize their own organization, making sure they're not complacent, which is legitimate. They might exaggerate a little to get their attention and open up their minds a little bit--that's what he might have done."

The analyst also suggested that it could have been deliberate scaremongering by the BT executive.

"A lot of painful changes are taking place inside BT from an employee perspective," Godell said. "If you can use an external threat to justify internal changes, it's easier to sell internally."

Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks an Expansion of Power
John Markoff and Saul Hansell

On the banks of the windswept Columbia River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky.

The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other Internet services.

And odd as it may seem, the barren desert land surrounding the Columbia along the Oregon-Washington border — at the intersection of cheap electricity and readily accessible data networking — is the backdrop for a multibillion-dollar face-off among Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that will determine dominance in the online world in the years ahead.

Microsoft and Yahoo have announced that they are building big data centers upstream in Wenatchee and Quincy, Wash., 130 miles to the north. But it is a race in which they are playing catch-up. Google remains far ahead in the global data-center race, and the scale of its complex here is evidence of its extraordinary ambition.

Even before the Oregon center comes online, Google has lashed together a global network of computers — known in the industry as the Googleplex — that is a singular achievement. "Google has constructed the biggest computer in the world, and it's a hidden asset," said Danny Hillis, a supercomputing pioneer and a founder of Applied Minds, a technology consulting firm, referring to the Googleplex.

The design and even the nature of the Google center in this industrial and agricultural outpost 80 miles east of Portland has been a closely guarded corporate secret. "Companies are historically sensitive about where their operational infrastructure is," acknowledged Urs Holzle, Google's senior vice president for operations.

Behind the curtain of secrecy, the two buildings here — and a third that Google has a permit to build — will probably house tens of thousands of inexpensive processors and disks, held together with Velcro tape in a Google practice that makes for easy swapping of components. The cooling plants are essential because of the searing heat produced by so much computing power.

The complex will tap into the region's large surplus of fiber optic networking, a legacy of the dot-com boom.

The fact that Google is behind the data center, referred to locally as Project 02, has been reported in the local press. But many officials in The Dalles, including the city attorney and the city manager, said they could not comment on the project because they signed confidentiality agreements with Google last year.

"No one says the 'G' word," said Diane Sherwood, executive director of the Port of Klickitat, Wash., directly across the river from The Dalles, who is not bound by such agreements. "It's a little bit like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in Harry Potter."

Local residents are at once enthusiastic and puzzled about their affluent but secretive new neighbor, a successor to the aluminum manufacturers that once came seeking the cheap power that flows from the dams holding back the powerful Columbia. The project has created hundreds of construction jobs, caused local real estate prices to jump 40 percent and is expected to create 60 to 200 permanent jobs in a town of 12,000 people when the center opens later this year.

"We're trying to organize our chamber ambassadors to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and they're trying to keep us all away," said Susan Huntington, executive director of The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. "Our two cultures aren't matching very well."

Culture clashes may be an inevitable byproduct of the urgency with which the search engine war is being waged.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are spending vast sums of capital to build out their computing capabilities to run both search engines and a variety of Web services that encompass e-mail, video and music downloads and online commerce.

Microsoft stunned analysts last quarter when it announced that it would spend an unanticipated $2 billion next year, much of it in an effort to catch up with Google. Google said its own capital expenditures would run to at least $1.5 billion. Its center here, whose cost is undisclosed, shows what that money is meant to buy.

Google is known to the world as a search engine, but in many ways it is foremost an effort to build a network of supercomputers, using the latest academic research, that can process more data — faster and cheaper — than its rivals.

"Google wants to raise the barriers to entry by competitors by making the baseline service very expensive," said Brian Reid, a former Google executive who is now director of engineering at the Internet Systems Consortium in Redwood City, Calif.

The rate at which the Google computing system has grown is as remarkable as its size. In March 2001, when the company was serving about 70 million Web pages daily, it had 8,000 computers, according to a Microsoft researcher granted anonymity to talk about a detailed tour he was given at one of Google's Silicon Valley computing centers. By 2003 the number had grown to 100,000.

Today even the closest Google watchers have lost precise count of how big the system is. The best guess is that Google now has more than 450,000 servers spread over at least 25 locations around the world. The company has major operations in Ireland, and a big computing center has recently been completed in Atlanta. Connecting these centers is a high-capacity fiber optic network that the company has assembled over the last few years.

Google has found that for search engines, every millisecond longer it takes to give users their results leads to lower satisfaction. So the speed of light ends up being a constraint, and the company wants to put significant processing power close to all of its users.

Microsoft's Internet computing effort is currently based on 200,000 servers, and the company expects that number to grow to 800,000 by 2011 under its most aggressive forecast, according to a company document.

Computer scientists and computer networking experts caution that it is impossible to compare the two companies' efforts directly. Yet it is the way in which Google has built its globally distributed network that illustrates the daunting task of its competitors in catching up.

"Google is like the Borg," said Milo Medin, a computer networking expert who was a founder of the 1990's online service @Home, referring to the robotic species on "Star Trek" that was forcibly assembled from millions of species and computer components. "I know of no other carrier or enterprise that distributes applications on top of their computing resource as effectively as Google."

Google's inclination to secrecy began in its days as a private company in an effort to keep its rivals from determining the profits it was making from Web search advertising. But its culture of secrecy has grown to pervade virtually all of its dealings with the news media and even its business partners.

In the end, of course, corporate secrets have a short shelf life in a search engine age. Entering "Dalles Google" as a Google query turns up plenty of revealing results. But Google Earth, the satellite mapping service, like its rivals, so far shows the 30-acre parcel here quite undeveloped.

More BASE-Jumping Laws Unlikely In Idaho
John Miller

The jumpers leaping from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls free-fall for three seconds before releasing their parachutes during a 486-foot descent.

The bridge is the only manmade location in the United States where so-called BASE jumpers - short for the buildings, antennae, spans and earth from which participants leap - aren't required to get a special permit for year-round jumps.

It also was the scene of four accidents in as many days last month, including one that killed a 34-year-old California woman. Still, officials say they don't have any plans to increase local regulation of the sport.

"We spend more time out on lost snowmobilers than we ever do on BASE jumping," said Nancy Howell, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Department. "We're not reassessing anything."

Unlike skydiving, where people jumping out of an airplane have several thousand feet to pull their parachutes, the margin for error in BASE jumping is much narrower. Once they jump, they have only a few seconds to deploy parachutes packed specially to fill with air quickly.

Shannon Carmel Dean of Alameda, Calif., became the third person to die since 2002 while jumping from the Perrine Bridge when she slammed into the Snake River on May 29 after her parachute failed to deploy.

Since 1981, there have been at least 99 BASE-jump fatalities around the world, according to the World BASE Fatality List, a Web site maintained by a BASE jumper.

Those risks haven't kept about 1,500 BASE jumpers around the world from making an estimated 40,000 jumps annually, said Martin Tilley, owner of Asylum Designs, an Auburn, Calif., company that makes equipment for BASE jumping.

"BASE jumping is never going to go away," he said. "You're never going to eliminate the desire for people to thrust themselves off fixed objects and float safely to earth with the aid of a parachute."

In Twin Falls, jumping already has resumed since Dean's death, said Tom Aiello, a BASE-jumping instructor.

"I wouldn't exactly say it's business as usual," Aiello said. "But things go on."

Twin Falls officials have quietly encouraged BASE jumping since it began there in the 1980s, in part because the estimated 5,000 jumps each year bring cash into the local economy.

But in most of the United States, jumpers often face arrest. The National Park Service doesn't permit BASE jumping, including from the monoliths of Yosemite National Park, where six people had died, including a woman who was protesting the ban. An 876-foot bridge over West Virginia's New River Gorge is open just once a year.

BASE jumping has been forbidden for years on 730-foot Foresthill Bridge in Auburn, Calif., where a stuntman in the Vin Diesel movie "XXX" used a stolen Corvette to start a memorable BASE jump. (The film crew had a permit. Diesel's character gets arrested.)

An estimated 50 people jump each year anyway. Park managers issue about three $250 citations annually.

"One guy bungee jumped, and as he got up to the top, he cut himself loose, and BASE jumped down," said Mike Lynch, the area's supervising ranger. "He was cited. Or as we like to say, given his 'certification' on the jump."

Officials are considering requests to loosen the restrictions. But Lynch said nothing is decided, and the existing ban will likely remain.

A new draft of National Park Service management policies released in October had proposed striking the provision banning BASE jumping. The final version is due out later this year, but officials in Washington, D.C., say it would still be up to park superintendents whether to issue permits. So far, no park officials have expressed interest in doing so.

"It would probably take a lot of courage for superintendents to propose allowing BASE jumping because it has had such a difficult history in the parks," said Chick Fagan, deputy chief in the NPS's office of policy.

Although leaping from bridges and other easily accessible sites is largely forbidden, jumpers can spring freely from remote cliffs on Bureau of Land Management territory, including hundreds of sites in the Utah desert.

Unlike the National Park Service, BLM officials say their mission is to promote "multiple use" of public land, including cattle grazing, hunting and BASE jumping. They do, however, encourage etiquette to reduce conflicts with others on the land.

"We don't like people to jump into campgrounds," said Maggie Wyatt, BLM field manager in Moab, Utah. "It tends to alarm the campers."

Marta Empinotti-Pouchert, 41, who teaches BASE jumping to experienced skydivers in Moab, was in Twin Falls the day Dean died.

"It's always devastating," Empinotti-Pouchert said. "But as a jumper, you think, 'What's the option?' To live not fully? To be afraid of living? Because people like us - we need this."

Weird Al Yankovic Says Digital Is a Raw Deal For Some Artists
Grant Robertson

King of comic rock, Weird Al Yankovic says digital is a raw deal for artists like himself. When asked by a fan whether purchasing a conventional CD or buying a digital file via iTunes would net Yankovic more pocket money the artist answered on his website.

"I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED... I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure."

It confuses me too Weird Al. I think you deserve at least an equal amount of compensation for each digital track sold as you would be entitled to for that same one track on CD.

As you said Al, "Go figure". I'm a big fan, you've given me a lot of fun music over the years, and I wanted to do what you said. So, I went and did the math.

Here's what I found out:

According to DownhillBattle, Apple pays the labels $0.65 (some say its as high as $0.80) of the $0.99 cents paid for your song.

So, for an album with the average 12 songs, like your current release "Poodle Hat" which has exactly 12, Apple takes in $11.88. Apple sends the label $7.80. That's $4.08 cents for the boys in Cupertino. And, it might be a pretty reasonable split if you then received the whole $7.80. Apple would take 35% of your work, for developing the infrastructure that makes you able to sell it to millions of people while you sleep, instead of selling it to 5 people out of your van in the parking lot of Stuckey's. That's what we call a value equation. Apple did work, and got paid for it. You did an arguably larger portion of the work, by creating something people wanted to buy in the first place, so Apple got a little money, and you got a good deal more.

Unfortunately, that's not how this version of the universe operates. So Apple sends the check to your record label.

The record label takes that $7.80. And, let's face it, they had something to do with your making the album. In some cases, you may have even been contractually required to make another album, whether you felt like it or not. So, you could say that without the record company, you'd not have made an album at all. They paid for the production, and some marketing, and now they should get paid right along side of you as the artist. You created the music, they recorded it and packaged it, marketed and distributed it. Right?

Well, not exactly. First, many artists can record fantastic music of very high quality in their own home studios. So, for some artists the record label is more marketing firm than recording technician(or, the guy who pays for one). But if the record label paid for your recording they will take 100% of sales until the recording costs are re-imbursed. They'll also keep taking money until paid back for promotional costs, packaging design and more.

If you manage to break even, here's where the money just starts rolling in. Right? The label got their money back (by taking $7.80 of every $7.80 that Apple paid them) so, now they're going to start sending you most of the $7.80 per record they are receiving.

Not so fast. According to widely circulated data from the coverage of The Alman Brothers suit against Sony BMG, you could expect something like $45 of each thousand songs sold to be paid to you in royalties. That's around 4% of the amount paid to Apple for your work, and around 5.7% of what was paid to the label. For The Almans', that works out to $24,000 when taking Nielsen SoundScan data of 538,000 Almans' songs sold as downloads since mid-2002. I don't have SoundScan data on your sales, but I'm sure you do. So the labels and Apple got 96% and you got %4. And as you said, there were no packaging, shipping or storage costs for your album sold though iTunes.

I went to Amazon.com and found that your album is selling for $14.98. That's $3.10 more than iTunes, but you get an actual CD, liner notes and a snazzy jewel case. And, you actually own the CD. You're really just kinda leasing the songs with iTunes, but we'll save that for another time. Suffice it to say that I think $14.98 is a totally reasonable price.

If your deal with your record company is like The Alman Brothers, then you're getting something like $315.50 for those same 1,000 songs (83.3 CDs worth). That works out to $0.31 cents per song, instead of the $0.045 on a digital download.

Ouch! It turns out you were being more than kind to that fan by telling him to buy either format he wanted, you're losing $0.265 cents per song! . If all of your fans bought through iTunes rather than buying CDs at the record store you'd be looking at an overall reduction in income of 85%!

Eighty Five Percent! If they cut my income by 85%, I'd be making soup from old shoes down by the railroad tracks!

My advice is probably similar to what your accountant's would be. Tell your fans to buy a CD, your retirement income may depend on it.

Ask the Law Geek

Install Kazaa... Get Fined $750 - The RIAA's Newest Plan of Attack?
Stewart Rutledge

I think the RIAA is on steroids.

Coming off some huge victories against P2P and thousands of dastardly downloading teenagers, the RIAA is trying to take the definition of copyright infringement a step further in a new case. If they win on their terms, then you're probably violating someone's copyright right now.

Read on to find out some of the newest tactics of those defenders of freedom at the RIAA, and feel free to post questions in the comments sections or send them to tips at lifehacker.com.
Question 1: Is it true that I can get in trouble for just having "Shared Folders" on my computer?

If the recording industry, the movie industry, the United States Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice have their way, then you could be punished for merely having Shared Folders on your computer. Get used to the name Elektra v. Barker. It's probably going to be huge.

Although the RIAA has filed thousands of complaints, in this one, it takes its complaint a step farther and alleges that by merely having Shared Folders on your computer, you are "making files available for distribution" thus you are liable for copyright infringement.

But get this, you could be found liable even if all the files in your Shared Folder were legally obtained. That is one small step in wording but one gigantic leap in potential liability. Forget intent. Forget notice. Even forget ignorance. If you share copyrighted files, you are a law-breaking copyright infringer... no questions asked. I think this is absolutely ridiculous. You have to read this stuff to believe it. (By the way, the defendant, Denise Barker, was sharing 611 MP3s through Kazaa; the RIAA described this as "copyright infringement on a massive scale." Hilarious.)

Fortunately, this case is brand new and only in the lower courts in New York. Of course, the EFF is on the case like a pack of wild dogs, and this could turn out to be the showdown that both technology and the government have been looking for. It actually could be just the thing the courts needed to see the potential effects of unlimited liability that the recording industry seems to desire.

So here's a roundup of electronic copyright infringement in US courts so far:

· Sony v. Universal: VCRs are OK for in-home "time-shifting" because they have a "substantial non-infringing use" and would have a small effect on the market.
· Napster: Everything you ever did was illegal. We (the court) wish you were never born.
· MGM v. Grokster: If evidence "shows statements or actions directed to promoting infringement," but beyond mere knowledge or potential for infringement, then the producer of that device may be held liable for copyright infringement, e.g. Morpheus.
· Elektra v. Barker: (Proposed) If your computer allows sharing of copyrighted materials, with or without your knowledge or intent to share those files, and even if those files are rightfully owned by you, you may be held liable for copyright infringement.

On the face of the Barker complaint, yes, this is just as crazy as it sounds. For now, it's in the hands of the Honorable Kenneth Karas.
Question 2: Is it illegal to rip my DVDs? What if I only rip it to my PC for my own personal viewing?

Thanks to people like Senator Orrin Hatch, unless you want to pay to rip your DVDs, then it's illegal. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to circumvent encryption measures intended to prevent copyright infringement.

You've all heard of DeCSS, and now you all know that it's illegal. But, many for-profit utilities employ content scrambling system (CSS) decoders licensed directly from the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA).

So, you want to watch your DVDs on your PSP? All you have to do is decode CSS in a DVD CCA-licensed way staying clear of DeCSS, or you'll violate the DMCA. I think I just wrote a poem.

Seriously, the DMCA is very strict on circumventing content protection measures, and even hosting the DeCSS code is now against the law. Protesters have created a variety of methods to continue its distribution including everything from distributing DeCSS as a coded haiku to simply selling tshirts with the code printed on them. Results?

The guy that wrote the haiku... sued.

The guy that sold the tshirts... sued.

If you get caught using, hosting, or distributing DeCSS, you can expect a letter from Mr. Hemanshu Nigam, Director, Worldwide Internet Enforcement. I don't know why they didn't just have ole Heman legally change his name to Big Brother. It wouldn't sound quite so threatening.

By the way, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this very column could be interpreted to violate the terms of the DMCA. So sue me.
Question 3: But can't I just destroy my hard drive if I think I'm about to get busted for something?

Spoliation of evidence... it's not a good thing, and if the court finds that you willfully destroyed evidence then the court may automatically presume the evidence went against you. This can work out very badly for you in front of a jury. In addition to this, you may be subject to sanctions, separate lawsuits and other penalties just for destroying the evidence, even if all the hard drive contained were pictures of Bea Arthur.

It's all fun and games 'til someone loses an eye(pod)...

This is really getting out of hand. As bandwidth explodes, online storage increases exponentially, and downloading continues to pour in, those who make money off copyrights are quickly trying to put out the fire. But, instead of embracing this technology as an incentive to create and an opportunity to produce (after all, that is the point of copyright law), the RIAA, MPAA, the DoJ, USAtty, NWA, and several other powerful acronyms are doing everything they can to stifle this technological renaissance. But, they're trying to put out a forest fire with a broom; it'll never work. Outlaw sharing and only outlaws will share.

It's time for a new approach, one that re-embraces the real purpose of copyrights. This doesn't involve unlimited downloading or extermination of the internet. Whether those who are truly stealing music right now like it or not, I, for one, think it's going to arrive in the form of full-subscription computing. I've said this for years, but it can't be long now before these "rights" you own to your products are merely rights to use a remote copy. No more stealing; no more fighting. Just pay a reasonable fee that the market determines and use the product fairly.

Until that becomes a reality, don't steal, be honest with yourself, and sit back and enjoy the copyfights.

Before you go and firebomb the RIAA, remember that this column is not intended as legal advice; it's only opinion. These statements are nothing more than opinions of the author who is a law student but is not a lawyer. Don't make any legal decisions based on this opinion article. Talk to a real lawyer, and, if you're in this kind of trouble, talk to a really GOOD lawyer.

The File Pirate’s Manifesto
Alan Dean Avery

“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to Farce, or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” - James Madison


In the not so distant future, historians will look back on our era and categorize us (as they have categorized earlier civilizations) by the manufacture of our tools. Having moved beyond chipped stone and forged iron, our tools are cobbled together not of matter, but of thought. We live in the information age. One’s ability to master their own destiny is governed by their access to knowledge and its application. Those few vocations requiring no specialized knowledge are modern forms of indentured servitude, offering the ignorant and desperate only enough to survive for short periods – preventing these poor souls from finding independence from their wage masters. Those occupations providing a higher socio-economic station are little better. Even with the advantage of greater monetary wealth, the average upper middle class family would be reduced to insolvency in a few months without employment. In exchange for the ability to keep one’s head above the water, we will spend the bulk of our waking hours carrying out the will of a corporate master.

The tools of knowledge are familiar to us – Computers, the Internet, mass media, and less frequently, the printed word. Our ability to pass knowledge from one generation to the next has enabled us, as a species, to move beyond the crude methods of the past, and learn beyond the wisdom of those whose efforts removed us from the caves. It is not simply our ability to learn and invent which has accomplished this feat – It is our ability to share knowledge, and our ability to reinvent that sets us apart from the animals. This, coupled with our unique ability to record and store information sets us above them.

There is a new caste system, a more insidious method of keeping the upper crust atop the huddled masses. Money is now the fruit, more than it is the tool of oppression. The foundation of the new hierarchy is simple: Maintain knowledge and inquiry as the domain of the wealthy, and encourage the general populace to strive for ignorance.

Even the public schools are geared to do everything possible to discourage, punish, and alienate those who would seek knowledge outside the bounds of the accepted curriculum. The focus of the publicly educated pupil is directed primarily towards conforming to arbitrary societal standards, and excluding – even despising – those who do not.

Consider the price of a decent education, by which I mean the sort of education that leads to presidency – Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, Duke – Those schools with a history of success. The price of that kind of education is around 30,000 to 50,000+ per year. The cost of the most statistically effective erudition is beyond the means of the common man. Consider the costs of the various certifications for the information technology field. The training manuals alone will set you back as much as $150 each, and certification can run well into the thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of money for someone who struggles just to keep food on the table.

Wealth follows power, and power follows knowledge, which is why ‘Old Money’ makes information that is profitable or powerful too expensive for the average Joe.

There can be no real equality in a society where the common person is denied access to the total depth and breadth of information, knowledge, culture, and education.

The aristocracy does not control these things unimpeded. There are, among the citizenry, those who would strike back against federally mandated ignorance. There is a new weapon against intellectual oppression. There is a new revolution afoot. That weapon is filesharing, and we are the revolutionaries.

Already the wealthy have taken up legal arms against our ranks, causing the less courageous among us to flee. They know we pose a threat to their rule. Their mistake has thinned our numbers, but left us with only the most resolute, the most capable of prosecuting this information war. Our digital army is ever growing - we must take care to prepare and educate not just ourselves, but also the newest among us. It is to this end that I set these words to the page.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” -Thomas Jefferson

The Morality of Piracy

There is more at stake here than our ability to download music and movies for free. Without access to culture, one cannot hope to be a part of that culture. In his day, those who were interested could hear the works of Bach – often free of charge – in a number of venues. Apparently, we are meant to believe that the magnum opus of Britney Spears is of intrinsically greater value than the offerings of J.S. Bach. Somewhere, I suspect there is a coffin suffering the friction burns that can only be caused by a long dead German composer rolling over in his grave.

Art is ever erected upon a foundation of antecedent works. For an artist to create significant art, they must first have access to the media of the day. Without access to cultural influence, there is no reference from which to contribute, and seldom the inspiration to do so. Should inability to pay the usurious prices associated with culture bearing media (CDs, DVDs, et al.) disqualify one from the possibility of an artistic trade? Should even the poorest among us be excluded from the sphere of human creativity? Had this been the case in the past, we would never have known the works Johannes Brahms or Vincent van Gogh.

Somewhere deep down we know that sharing is right. Perhaps we don’t know how – but we are certain that we are doing the right thing when we open up those shares. We are rewarded with the feeling of a good deed well done. It’s hard to argue with that.

Most of us have tried to figure out how an illegal activity could possibly be ethically correct. A common argument is that copyright infringement is not really a crime. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines crime as “An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction.” Both sending and receiving copyrighted files breaks laws. People have at this point been convicted for this. those people have received punishment. Piracy thus fits the definition of crime.

In order to be righteous in the commission of a crime, it behooves us to qualify our inherent gut instinct. We must discern for ourselves what greater good is served in plundering the media vendors, and information brokers. Without this, we are on shaky ground when entering into debate. Without a solid, logically considered argument for our position, we can never gain victory over the media barons.
Already we have discussed combating socio-intellectual oppression. Tied closely with this concept is the idea of the free exchange and flow of information – the belief that all knowledge, wisdom, information, and culture should be freely and readily accessible to all people regardless of their station. The sum of human wisdom will increase exponentially when the right minds are given unrestricted admittance to the right knowledge at the right time.

Ultimately, it falls to the individual to discern for themself why filesharing is the right thing to do. Each person may have completely different answers, but it is important to know for yourself what these answers are. If you believe in the cause, you will argue it more effectively. When you can argue effectively, you will bring more to the cause.

The Code of the File Pirate

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not trying to define what we are, because what we are isn't working. We are losing the struggle. Slowly and gradually in the manner of long standing bureaucracy we are being backed into a corner from which there will be no escape.

I am suggesting a course of action, the ultimate goal of which is the unconditional surrender of the copyright barons, and the legal acquiescence to our unacknowledged right to have unimpeded access to the depth and breadth of our society's culture, knowledge and information. If you would pay your oppressor while he seeks the means to see you imprisoned, that is certainly your right. Our opposition has great wealth, but we give them that wealth. They fight us with our own resources. We should seek to take that from them. Not for a day, as a demonstration of protest, but for the months and years ahead. I propose not a single shot fired in lame dissent, but a siege upon the fortress of media which we ourselves paid to build.

History has taught us that no liberty has ever been granted which was not first demanded, and finally taken by the populace. The code is by no means law, simply suggestion. It is upon you, the pirate, to decide what course of action best serves our goals. However, the more common ground we can find in our goals, the more effective we will be when we struggle together against the chains of tyranny.


1. The Pirate always shares the full extent of their stash.

2. The goal of the Pirate is to give more to the community than they take.

3. The Pirate doesn’t leech. Even if they’re stuck on dial-up. The Pirate doesn’t complain about those who do leech. their sterling example and generosity may someday cure their ignorance.

4. The Pirate never seeks remuneration, monetary or otherwise, for files, regardless of how they were acquired.

5. The Pirate shares with as many people as possible for as long as possible by keeping their shares open, round the clock.

6. The Pirate only buys CDs, and DVDs used and never goes to the theatre. The enemies of filesharing should never be strengthened with the pirate’s hard-earned wages.

7. The Pirate stays politically educated and votes.

8. The Pirate’s reward is in helping to create a more ideal world by serving as part of an egalitarian sharing structure.

9. The Pirate always seeks to stay ahead of the law. An errant law is an affront to justice. The Pirate exposes injustice to the media.

10. The Pirate abhors censorship – even censorship of the abhorrent.


What Happens When A Million Filesharers Come Out Of The Closet?

What happens when a nation like Sweden decides to allow filesharing for its citizens? No more fear of police or copyright cartels harassing you because of filesharing. Freedom to share as much as you want, to download as much as you want, as fast as your broadband connection can deliver. And should somebody dare to harass you because of what you are doing, he would be committing a crime.

What happens when the fear factor is removed from filesharing? Well, for starters, the filesharers will come out of the closet.

In this case a million of them. Or perhaps two, because nobody really knows. People don’t advertise these things in public. But now that it will be legal and acceptable, they will of course advertise it. And they will be proud of it. That’s what coming out of the closet does to people.

And then they can start doing some amazing things together.

Like building the world’s finest Library of Culture. Do the Swedish filesharers have the resources for it? Yes, they have a million computers, hundreds of petabytes of storage and world class broadband network. Do they have the skills to do it? Yes, they are the most advanced filesharing nation on the planet in a well-educated high-tech country. Do they have the motivation to do it? Oh yes - actually they have been doing it already for a long time. They just had to keep all their treasures in that closet of fear. But now, coming out of the closet, they can bring their treasures out as well, and the Library of Culture can open.

It will be a little messy and disorganized in the beginning. But the collection will be breathtaking anyway from the first day on. And it won’t take long until it all gets better organized and sorted out, and complete high-quality discographies and filmographies will start to show up. Expert collections of rarities will be available. And all the new popular items will of course be available right after their release in any required quantity as high-speed torrents. Sounds like God meant online libraries to be?

When the Swedes will have their Culture Library running, the world cannot avoid hearing about it. There will be many foreigners curious to visit the place. And the Swedes won’t mind, they will welcome the foreign visitors. But for you as a foreigner there might be one slight problem. It might be that your government has made it a crime for you to visit such a library. They might even have forced you to use your local mall instead to satisfy all your cultural needs.

So if there is a legal problem in your country about visiting fine foreign libraries, think twice before you go and have a curious peek at the Swedish one. You just might be tempted to commit a crime.

Not Enron material

For Some, Online Persona Undermines a Résumé
Alan Finder

When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a summer intern this month, the company's president went online to check on a promising candidate who had just graduated from the University of Illinois.

At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found the candidate's Web page with this description of his interests: "smokin' blunts" (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.

It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.

"A lot of it makes me think, what kind of judgment does this person have?" said the company's president, Brad Karsh. "Why are you allowing this to be viewed publicly, effectively, or semipublicly?"

Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their first job. But now, college career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.

When viewed by corporate recruiters or admissions officials at graduate and professional schools, such pages can make students look immature and unprofessional, at best.

"It's a growing phenomenon," said Michael Sciola, director of the career resource center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. "There are lots of employers that Google. Now they've taken the next step."

At New York University, recruiters from about 30 companies told career counselors that they were looking at the sites, said Trudy G. Steinfeld, executive director of the center for career development.

"The term they've used over and over is red flags," Ms. Steinfeld said. "Is there something about their lifestyle that we might find questionable or that we might find goes against the core values of our corporation?"

Facebook and MySpace are only two years old, but have attracted millions of avid young participants, who mingle online by sharing biographical and other information, often intended to show how funny, cool and even outrageous they are.

On MySpace and similar sites, personal pages are generally available to anyone who registers, with few restrictions on who can register. Facebook, though, has separate requirements for different categories of users; college students must have a college e-mail address to register. Personal pages on Facebook are restricted to friends and others on the user's campus, leading many students to assume that they are relatively private.

But companies can gain access to the information in several ways. Employees who are recent graduates often retain their college e-mail addresses, which enables them to see pages. Sometimes, too, companies ask college students working as interns to perform online background checks, said Patricia Rose, the director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania.

Concerns have already been raised about these and other Internet sites, from their potential misuse by stalkers to students exposing their own misbehavior, for example by posting photographs of hazing by college sports teams. Add to the list of unintended consequences the new hurdles for the job search.

Ana Homayoun runs Green Ivy Educational Consulting, a small firm that tutors and teaches organizational skills to high school students in the San Francisco area. Ms. Homayoun visited Duke University this spring for an alumni weekend and while there planned to interview a promising job applicant.

Curious about the candidate, Ms. Homayoun went to her page on Facebook. She found explicit photographs and commentary about the student's sexual escapades, drinking and pot smoking, including testimonials from friends. Among the pictures were shots of the young woman passed out after drinking.

"I was just shocked by the amount of stuff that she was willing to publicly display," Ms. Homayoun said. "When I saw that, I thought, 'O.K., so much for that.' "

Ms. Rose said a recruiter had told her he rejected an applicant after searching the name of the student, a chemical engineering major, on Google. Among the things the recruiter found, she said, was this remark: "I like to blow things up."

Occasionally students find evidence online that might explain why a job search is foundering. Tien Nguyen, a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, signed up for interviews on campus with corporate recruiters, beginning last fall, but he was seldom invited.

A friend suggested in February that Mr. Nguyen research himself on Google. He found a link to a satirical essay, entitled "Lying Your Way to the Top," that he had published last summer on a Web site for college students. He asked that the essay be removed. Soon, he began to be invited to job interviews and has now received several offers.

"I never really considered that employers would do something like that," he said. "I thought they would just look at your résumé and grades."

Jennifer Floren is chief executive of Experience Inc., which provides online information about jobs and employers to students at 3,800 universities.

"This is really the first time that we've seen that stage of life captured in a kind of time capsule and in a public way," Ms. Floren said. "It has its place, but it's moving from a fraternity or sorority living room. It's now in a public arena, so it's a completely different ballgame."

Ms. Rose of the University of Pennsylvania said, "Students go on them a lot and, unfortunately, now employers go there."

Some companies, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ernst & Young and Osram Sylvania, said they did not use the Internet to check on college job applicants.

"I'd rather not see that part of them," said Maureen Crawford Hentz, manager of talent acquisition at Osram Sylvania. "I don't think it's related to their bona fide occupational qualifications."

More than a half-dozen major corporations, including Morgan Stanley, Dell, Pfizer, L'Oréal and Goldman Sachs, turned down or did not respond to requests for interviews.

But other companies, particularly those involved in the digital world like Microsoft and Métier, a small software company in Washington, D.C., said researching students through social networking sites was now fairly typical.

"It's becoming very much a common tool," said Warren Ashton, group marketing manager at Microsoft. "For the first time ever, you suddenly have very public information about almost any candidate who is coming through the process."

At Microsoft, he said, recruiters are given broad latitude over how to work, and there is no formal policy about using the Internet to research applicants. "There are certain recruiters and certain companies that are probably more in tune with the new technologies than others are," Mr. Ashton said.

Microsoft and Osram Sylvania have also begun to use social networking sites in a different way, participating openly in online communities to get out their company's messages and to identify talented job candidates.

Students may not know when they have been passed up for an interview or a job offer because of something a recruiter saw on the Internet. But more than a dozen college career counselors said recruiters had been telling them since last fall about incidents in which students' online writing or photographs raised serious questions about their judgment, eliminating them as job candidates.

Some college career executives are skeptical that many employers routinely check applicants online. "My observation is that it's more fiction than fact," said Tom Devlin, director of the career center at the University of California, Berkeley.

At a conference in late May, Mr. Devlin said, he asked 40 employers if they researched students online and every one said no.

Many career counselors have been urging students to review their pages on Facebook and other sites with fresh eyes, removing photographs or text that might be inappropriate to show to their grandmother or potential employers. Counselors are also encouraging students to apply settings on Facebook that can significantly limit access to their pages.

Melanie Deitch, director of marketing at Facebook, agreed, saying students should take advantage of the site's privacy settings and should be smart about what they post.

But it is not clear whether many students are following the advice. "I think students have the view that Facebook is their space and that the adult world doesn't know about it," said Mark W. Smith, assistant vice chancellor and director of the career center at Washington University in St. Louis. "But the adult world is starting to come in."

House Backs Telecom Bill Favoring Phone Companies
Stephen LaBaton

The House of Representatives approved the most extensive telecommunications legislation in a decade on Thursday, largely ratifying the policy agenda of the nation's largest telephone companies.

The bill passed by a lopsided vote of 321 to 101.

Supporters of the legislation said it would promote competition and lower costs by enabling the telephone companies to offer bundled packages of video, telephone, broadband, wireless and mobile phone services in new markets. They said the legislation was an important antidote to rapidly rising cable television subscription rates.

But even as the House took up the measure on Thursday, the political action had already swung to the Senate, which has been peppered by lobbyists and executives from many major telecommunications companies in recent days as it prepares to draft its own version. The prospects there are uncertain.

The House bill, sponsored by Representative Joe L. Barton, the Texas Republican who heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would make it much easier and cheaper for the phone companies to offer video services across the country by pre-empting the regulatory authority of municipal franchise officials. The telephone companies have been waging an expensive and protracted town-by-town war with their cable rivals, to offer video services.

The legislation would replace the regulatory role of more than 30,000 local franchising authorities with a national system supervised by the Federal Communications Commission. The current process has significantly slowed the ability of companies like Verizon and AT&T (formerly SBC Communications) to challenge the cable and satellite television companies with their own version of video services.

In a concession to the telephone and cable companies, the legislation does nothing to prevent the phone and cable providers from charging Internet content providers a premium for carrying services like video offerings that could rival those of the telecom companies.

Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and a group of other Democrats sought to amend the legislation to prohibit such practices and thereby, they said, ensure the Internet's vitality. Support for the provision, which backers call "Net neutrality," brought together such competitors as Google and Microsoft.

But the amendment failed by a vote of 269 to 152.

The largest telephone companies did not get everything they sought, however. The legislation threatens to delay any effort by the Federal Communications Commission to require Internet telephone providers to make the investments needed to connect customers to 911 services.

Still, the House bill reflected the considerable clout of the telephone industry in the House, and in particular its ties to the Republican leadership there. Rivals of the phone companies, particularly the cable industry, appear for now to have more important allies in the Senate. And the Senate's rules and customs, unlike those in the House, make it easier for a smaller number of lawmakers to influence and delay legislation.

In the meantime, the flurry of activity is proving to be lucrative on K Street, as every major lobbying firm has been enlisted and campaign coffers are filling with millions of dollars from the telephone, cable, software and high-tech industries trying to shape the legislation. In recent days the phone companies began to run attack ads on television and in local newspapers against Google over its "Net neutrality" stand.

The legislative calendar leaves little time for the two chambers of Congress to reach a final agreement on a telecommunications bill as ambitious as the one considered by the House. But some executives predicted a narrower one could stand a better chance of final passage.

The White House issued a statement on Thursday supporting the House legislation, saying it would "promote competition in both video and voice markets."

Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who heads a telecommunications and Internet subcommittee and is a co-sponsor of the measure, said it would bring "deregulatory parity" and that "for the consumers that have these services, it probably will mean a reduction of about $30 to $40 a month."

House Democrats raised several objections to the legislation. They said the new national franchise rules would sharply reduce the amount of money that cable companies now give towns and cities for public, educational and government programs. They said the failure to include build-out requirements for the telephone companies for their new video services would mean that people living in less affluent neighborhoods would be unlikely to see the benefits of any new competition for broadband and subscription television services.

But most of the criticism was over the bill's failure to include a provision that would prevent the cable and phone companies from charging the content providers for offering premium, or faster, Internet services.

The critics say that such a provision is vital to protect the free-wheeling architecture of the Internet. They also say it is necessary to prevent the telephone and cable companies, which are increasingly going into the content business, from favoring their own products over those of others. If the telephone companies can charge more to particular content providers, the critics say, the telephone and cable companies will ultimately offer broadband services that more closely resemble television services, with more limited choices than those now available on the Internet.

"The imposition of additional fees for Internet content providers would unduly burden Web-based small businesses and start-ups," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader. "They would also hamper communications by noncommercial users, those using religious speech, promoting civic involvement and exercising First Amendment freedoms."

The legislation gives the Federal Communications Commission the authority to enforce a year-old broadband policy statement that provides consumers access to the lawful Internet content of their choice. Those favoring the Markey amendment said that the commission's antidiscrimination principle was inadequate to ensure that content providers would not, in effect, be blocked if the telephone companies begin to require companies like Google and their smaller rivals to pay for premium services.

The phone companies and their Congressional allies say that such restrictions are both unnecessary and would discourage investment in upgrading networks. They also say that the legislation goes far enough to protect consumers. And they say that as there is increasing competition for broadband services, it would be impossible for a phone or cable company to be competitive by blocking or limiting Internet choices.

"A free and open Internet is crucial to formulating an effective policy," said Representative Clifford B. Stearns, a Florida Republican who is a co-sponsor of the bill. "For now, strict strong enforcement provisions that are in the bill are a tough deterrent to discrimination."

Gathering Highlights Power of the Blog
Adam Nagourney

If any more proof were needed of the rising influence of bloggers — at least for the Democratic Party — it could be found here on Friday on the Las Vegas Strip, where the old and new worlds of American politics engaged in a slightly awkward if mostly entertaining clash of a meeting.

There were the bloggers — nearly a thousand of them, many of them familiar names by now — emerging from the shadows of their computers for a three-day blur of workshops, panels and speeches about politics, the power of the Internet and the shortcomings of the Washington media. And right behind them was a parade of prospective Democratic presidential candidates and party leaders, their presence a tribute to just how much the often rowdy voices of the Web have been absorbed into the very political process they frequently disdain, much to the amazement, and perhaps discomfort, of some of the bloggers themselves.

"I see you guys as agents of advocacy — that's why I'm here," said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat and a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, who flew here at the last minute to attend the YearlyKos 2006 Convention. Bloggers, Mr. Richardson said later, "are a major voice in American politics."

They may think of themselves as rebels, separate from mainstream politics and media. But by the end of a day on which the convention halls were shoulder to shoulder with bloggers, Democratic operatives, candidates and Washington reporters, it seemed that bloggers were well on the way to becoming — dare we say it? — part of the American political establishment. Indeed, the convention, the first of what organizers said would become an annual event, seems on the way to becoming as much a part of the Democratic political circuit as the Iowa State Fair.

"It's 2006, and I think we have arrived," Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the Daily Kos and the man for whom the conference was named, announced after being greeted with the kind of reception Elvis, or at least Wayne Newton to a more traditional Las Vegas audience, might have received had he walked into the dowdy ballroom at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. (Mr. Moulitsas was accompanied by a media adviser and bloggers snapped his picture whenever they spotted him.)

"Both parties have failed us," Mr. Moulitsas said. "Republicans have failed us because they can't govern. Democrats have failed because they can't get elected. So now it's our turn."

The ceremony and self-celebration notwithstanding, the actual extent of the blogging community's power is still unclear. For one thing, it was hard to find a single Republican in the crowd here, though organizers insisted that a few had registered. For another, as the presidential campaign of Howard Dean demonstrated in 2004, the excitement and energy of the Web does not necessarily translate into winning at the polls.

"I do believe that each day, they have more impact," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, who will deliver the keynote speech to the group on Saturday night. "Now how far that will go, I don't think we know that yet."

But, Mr. Reid added: "One of the reasons I so admire them is they have the ability to spread the truth like no entities I've dealt with in recent years. We could never have won the battle to stop privatization of Social Security without them."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, widely viewed as a leading candidate for her party's presidential nomination, declined an invitation to attend. Her spokeswoman, Lorraine Voles, said Mrs. Clinton had obligations in New York this weekend. Mrs. Clinton is highly unpopular with this crowd, in no small part because she supported going to war in Iraq.

"Oh my God, no way!" Mr. Moulitsas said when asked whether Mrs. Clinton was popular here.

Still, there was no shortage of Democratic luminaries on display. Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia and a likely candidate for president in 2008, invited everyone on hand to a reception at the Stratosphere Hotel Casino on Friday. He and Mr. Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, are scheduled to speak on Saturday.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who ran for president in 2004 and said he might run again in 2008, was spotted on Thursday night looking somewhat out of place as he roamed the halls in a pin-striped suit before heading to the Hard Rock Cafe to hold his own reception for bloggers. ("I just flew in from Washington from a business meeting," he explained, promising that the suit was old and tattered.)

Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, another potential 2008 Democratic candidate, was on the way to participate in a forum on education.

And for whatever disdain that could be picked up toward mainstream politicians and news media, it seems fair to say that the bloggers and the people who love them were fascinated by their favorite targets. Jennifer Palmieri, a deputy White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, held a "pundit project training," where she told bloggers how to present themselves in television interviews — what to wear, how to sit and what to say.

And a well-known columnist from a major metropolitan newspaper — this one — was repeatedly stopped by bloggers requesting that she pose for photos with them, as they expressed admiration for her work. (That would be Maureen Dowd.)

As became clear from the rather large and diverse crowd here, the blogosphere has become for the left what talk radio has been for the right: a way of organizing and communicating to supporters. Blogging is nowhere near the force among Republicans as it is among Democrats, and talk radio is a much more effective tool for Republicans.

"We don't spend a lot of time in cars, but we do spend a lot of time on the Internet," said Jerome Armstrong, a blogging pioneer and a senior adviser to Mr. Warner, who has been the most aggressive among the prospective 2008 candidates in courting this community.

Their political opinions were, not surprisingly, hard to mistake. With little doubt, the most unpopular Democrat around was probably Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, scorned for his frequent support of President Bush's policies. Mr. Lieberman is facing a primary challenge from Ned Lamont, a cable television executive, that should offer a pretty good test of the political impact of this world. Lamont T-shirts and buttons were in abundance.

"Lieberman is going to lose this one," Mr. Moulitsas said.

This unlikely location for a bloggers' convention was chosen not because this crowd has any particular affinity for gambling, organizers said, but because rooms were cheap ($99). The floors were filled with people, laptops perched on their legs, typing away.

Mr. Richardson's visit was interesting in that he decided to come so late that his name did not appear on any programs; a hand-lettered sign announced a breakfast with him on Friday morning. Still, Mr. Richardson arched an eyebrow when asked whether he had suddenly decided to fly in after learning that many of his prospective rivals for 2008 were here and that Mr. Warner, in particular, was giving a major address on Saturday.

"Warner?" Mr. Richardson responded with a hint of a smile. "Is he here?"

A Mixed Bag of First Impressions by Democrats at Blog Rendezvous
Adam Nagourney

Mark R. Warner, the former governor of Virginia and potential Democratic presidential candidate, went before an unconventional political audience on Saturday — a bloggers' convention — and offered a fairly conventional presentation: the introductory campaign video, a few jokes, and 30 minutes of biography, criticism of the Bush administration and views of government.

Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, took a different approach, celebrating the bloggers as the future of American politics. "We have a whole new department at the D.N.C. — the Internet department," he said. "What they do is read you all day long so they know what's going on."

Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, a Democrat who also may run for president, praised blogs as an emerging power in American politics after appearing at a panel here, but assailed a major liberal blog, Daily Kos, for "banging away" with personal attacks on political leaders.

"I'm not the enemy — I'm a pretty decent guy, if I say so myself," Mr. Vilsack told reporters.

If there is an emerging consensus among much of the Democratic Party establishment, it is that blogs are an important, potentially crucial emerging power in American politics, as reflected by the turnout of Democratic leaders here this weekend. What is less clear is how mainstream politicians like Mr. Warner — or the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who gave an address Saturday night — will grapple with an audience that has defined itself in part by its dissatisfaction with mainstream politicians.

Indeed, there was evidence of a gulf in the way the two sides view their relationship. For the 1,000 or so bloggers at the YearlyKos Convention here, the mission is nothing short of trying to transform the way politics are done. For some of the political leaders who stopped off for a quick panel or reception, the visits seemed more along the lines of another constituent box to be checked on the campaign circuit, whose value does not extend beyond its checkbook or voter turnout operations.

Steve Soto, who writes The Left Coaster blog, said that the Democratic leaders running the campaigns to win the House and Senate "are still treating the blogs and some of the advice from them about message and focus as unwanted solicitations from crazy relatives."

Mr. Warner, in an interview, said: "Some consultants are still stuck in a 2004 mindset — they still think, 'Is this just a new way to raise some money over the Internet?' This community absolutely resents that. They absolutely see themselves as ideas, energy, and they want to be part of the debate."

This is, of course, awkward territory to all of the players who turned up for this unlikely meeting at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. Part of the reason for this is the cultural divisions that have been highlighted by the emergence of what Democrats have come to call the blogger community. And part of it is that no one is sure if bloggers will prove to be as important to American politics as they think they will be.

So it was that Mr. Reid, in an interview, said it was still too soon to measure how much sway bloggers will have in setting the agenda for Democrats. But he flew here to deliver the closing speech at the convention on Saturday, urging bloggers to help Democrats in Washington, and said he would have done that even if the convention had not been taking place in his home state.

"We don't have a bully pulpit, but we have you," he said in remarks prepared for delivery that night. "We need you to be our megaphone."

"There is an urban myth in Washington that Democrats don't stand for anything. Like all urban myths, it couldn't be further from the truth," Mr. Reid said. "This summer we need you to break it."

Similarly, Mr. Dean, who was elected party leader in part because of his support in this world, was effusive in his praise of bloggers. "Thank you as a group for coming to my defense every time some politician stands up and says, 'We ought to do it the old way,' " he said. "You guys are the best. The Washington politicians are coming around."

Mr. Vilsack, who flew in to appear on an education panel, said what was taking place this weekend was the discovery by Democrats of the next technological wave in American politics, and he compared it to how Republicans spotted the power of direct mail in the early 1980's. But talking to reporters, he criticized blogs for making personal attacks, noting criticism of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council, led by Mr. Vilsack.

"It's important for the focus to be on the policies and the politics, but not on the personalities," he said. "Daily Kos banging away at the D.L.C. — we don't need to do that."

With Mr. Warner, the audience here got a glimpse of something that many of them had presumably never seen before: a classic campaign stump speech, one that Mr. Warner, with some adjustments, might have given to any audience. There were some long periods of quiet as he spoke, but those ended as soon as he began attacking President Bush, and Mr. Warner won a standing ovation.

In the interview, Mr. Warner left little doubt of the potential he sees with bloggers, saying, "You're watching what potentially could be a major part of the future of American politics taking place right here."

Asked if he thought some of his prospective rivals — like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — had made a mistake by not coming here (she cited a scheduling conflict), Mr. Warner paused before declining to answer. "Do I look like a fool?" he asked with a smile.

Art Review

'Unknown Weegee,' on Photographer Who Made the Night Noir
Holland Cotter

WATCHMAN, what of the night?

"Whadda you kidding? It's a zoo out there. Two deli stickups at 12 on the dot; one of the perps getting plugged. I got the picture. Roulette joint bust on East 68th. Society types. You shoulda seen the penguins run. Three a.m.: Brooklyn. Car crash. Kids. Bad."

"Four a.m., bars close. Guys asleep in Bowery doorways. But just before dawn is the worst: despair city. The jumpers start, out the windows, off the roof. I can't even look. So that's the night, New York. Ain't it grand? What a life."

The imagined speaker is Arthur Fellig, better known, and very well known, as Weegee (1899-1968). From the 1930's into the 1950's, he was a photographer for New York tabloids, the kind of papers Ralph Kramden might have read. Tireless, loquacious, invasive, he cruised the wee hours. For him the city was a 24-hour emergency room, an amphetamine drip.

You'll find him these days at the International Center of Photography in a show called "Unknown Weegee." The center owns more than 18,000 of his pictures, and most of the 95 selected by Cynthia Young, the curator, are on view for the first time, at least in a museum. At the same time, the Weegee they reveal is pretty much the one we know, though toned down a bit, turned into a social worker, even.

His story is the story of a Jewish kid, son of a rabbi, who came with his family from Europe to New York City. Independent-minded, he noodled around, did the odd job, hit the flophouses. Then he discovered photography, and he became a man with a mission. Make that obsession. Scratch that: addiction.

A freelancer by temperament, he had long-term gigs with The Daily News, The Daily Mirror and the left-leaning daily PM. His beat was the inner city, and everything was raw material: the good and the bad, but mostly the bad. He liked nights because he had the photographic turf to himself but also because the best bad things happen at night, under the cover of darkness. Vandals make their mark; hit men practice their trade; people get crazy.

Like a boy scout, he was always prepared. He prowled the streets in a car equipped with a police radio, a typewriter, developing equipment, a supply of cigars and a change of underwear. He was a one-man photo factory: he drove to a crime site; took pictures; developed the film, using the trunk as a darkroom; and delivered the prints.

He often finished a job before the cops had cleared the scene, in some cases before they even arrived. About certain things he was clairvoyant. (Weegee = Ouija, as in board. Get it?) He caught catastrophes in the making and filmed them unfolding. An opportunist? A sensationalist? A voyeur? You could call him all that. He wouldn't mind. "Just get the name right. Weegee the Famous."

He was in the right place at the right time. New York from the Depression through World War II was a rude, crude town. No heat in winter, way too much in the summer. Immigrants poured in; there was barely enough room to hold them. Native-born workers felt the competition for jobs and space, resented it. The melting pot was on a constant boil.

Weegee was aware of social problems. This is one of the points the show makes. A congenital, unradical leftist, he gave his work a deliberate political slant. He documented segregation and racial-bias attacks. In one 1951 photo, he shows a black woman holding aloft a piece of paper with a picture of a gun. The paper was actually a coupon to win free admission to a new Randolph Scott movie called "Colt 45." But at some point Weegee pinned a "Black Power" button to the print to give it a pointed meaning.

The politics that really made him tick, though, were populist. He knew what Americans wanted, because he wanted it too. Sentimentality: cops holding kittens, lost kids crying. Zaniness: people dressed up as Martians, things like that. He was drawn to glamour, though not the social register stuff. That he despised. He loved to embarrass the rich, make them look like freaks.

Hollywood was different. Its version of classiness was, in a way, available to all. Anybody can pass out autographs like a star and probably find some takers. And if Veronica Lake could get famous for a hairdo, so could you. (Weegee's 1945 book, "Naked City," was the basis for a Hollywood movie; he himself, quintessential New Yorker, appeared as an extra in films.)

Then there was the cosmopolitan, interracial realm of club life, with Calypso singers, cocktail-swillers, exotic dancers and 1950's couples, young and in love. This part of the show is cool. These couples represented a changing America, a hinge-generation: girls who were rethinking the "good girl" gambit; boys who had missed one war and would refuse to die in another.

Death was, of course, Weegee's daily bread. Mostly it was ghastly: a shoe under the car wheel, a body under the sheet. We linger over these pictures today the way tabloid readers did then, because they demand and reward inspection. In a 1941 photo of a Brooklyn ambulance attendant tagging a body, newspapers covering the corpse include a home section advertising "Brand New Collections of Summer Rayons." There's a War Bonds sign in a nearby shop window and under it, scratched on a wall, a swastika.

Weegee was fascinated by our fascination. Some of his most absorbing pictures are reaction shots, images of crowds witnessing death or its aftermath. Often the gawkers are children, yucking it up or staring, blank.

But Weegee also had a way of making adults — the pop-eyed gangster and the distraught murderess — look like children, pitiable and silly in their unguarded public emoting. Weegee's output isn't, in the end, a humanist essay; it's a B movie. With all the mortality and pain, there is no sense of tragedy, no grappling with evil.

He deals with evil the way Americans usually deal with it: as entertainment, a bad-guy cartoon. Because Americans don't know how to take evil, their own or anyone else's, seriously, they can't see its power shaping their world. Certain artists buck the trend. Warhol, who learned a lot from Weegee, understood the reality of badness beyond redemption. He didn't moralize; he just saw that it was there. That's one reason his art is still so forceful and useful.

But Weegee, no. When he's thoughtful he teeters on maudlin; when he probes he gets cruel. Most of the time, he's just excited. Always on deadline, he can't stay with any subject for long. His method of illumination is the flashbulb. Pow! Its light gives foreground subjects hard brilliance but doesn't sink in; it leaves the depths dark. So his pictures have no inner glow. They just freeze a long-gone now. Sometimes they look like art; they always look archival.

Yet he did one great, serious thing. He was the American photographer who first made night a symbol, an existential condition. He made night noir, and this is what binds all his work together. I wonder what, as night watchman of our American Babylon, he would have thought of the present Times Square, bright as day around the clock.

"Sheesh. So, light's the new dark? I can't put my finger on why, but it don't seem right."

"Unknown Weegee" remains through Aug. 27 at the International Center of Photography, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, at 43rd Street, (212) 857-0000.

E-Newspapers Just Around The Corner. Really
Kenneth Li

The newspapers of the future - cheap digital screens that can be rolled up and stuffed into a back pocket - have been just around the corner for the last three decades.

But as early as this year, the future may finally arrive. Some of the world's top newspapers publishers are planning to introduce a form of electronic newspaper that will allow users to download entire editions from the Web on to reflective digital screens said to be easier on the eyes than light-emitting laptop or cellphone displays.

Flexible versions of these readers nay be available as early as 2007.

The handheld readers couldn't come a moment too soon for the newspaper industry, which has struggled to maintain its readership and advertising from online rivals.

Publishers Hearst Corp. in the U.S., Pearson Plc.'s Les Echos in Paris and Belgian financial paper De Tijd are planning a large-scale trials of the readers this year.

Earlier attempts by book publishers to sell digital readers failed due to high prices and a lack of downloadable books.

But a new generation of readers from Sony Corp. and iRex, a Philips Electronics spin-off, have impressed publishers with their sharp resolution and energy efficiency, galvanizing support for the idea again.

"This could be a real substitution for printed paper," Jochen Dieckow, head of the news media and research division of Ifra, a global newspaper association based in Germany, said.

It's easy to see why publishers are keen. Digital newspapers, so called e-newspapers, take advantage of two prevailing media trends -- the growth of online advertising and widespread use of portable devices like the iPod music player.

Nearly all papers run Web sites, but few readers relish pulling out laptops in transit or risk dropping one in the bathroom.

E-newspapers would cut production and delivery costs that account for some 75 percent of newspaper expenses.

Circulation in the $55 billion U.S. newspaper industry has slid steadily for nearly two decades as papers compete with Internet news for attention and advertising dollars.

Some publishers now see new devices as a way to help them snatch a bigger slice of online advertising and protect their franchise in reading away from home.

Ad spending on newspaper Web sites grew 32 percent in 2005 but only accounted for 4 percent of total ad spending in newspapers, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Still, little is known about demand for an e-paper. "The number of consumers who are interested in reading on the go as opposed to listening to music on the go is probably smaller in the U.S. today," NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin said.

Print Screens

Sony and iRex's new devices employ screen technology by E Ink, which originated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. Investors include Hearst, Philips, McClatchy Co., Motorola Inc. and Intel Corp..

The company produces energy-efficient ink sheets that contain tiny capsules showing either black or white depending on the electric current running through it.

Some of the latest devices apply E Ink's sheets to glass transistor boards, or back planes, which are rigid. But by 2007, companies such as U.K.-based Plastic Logic Ltd will manufacture screens on flexible plastic sheets, analysts say.

Separately, Xerox Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are developing methods to produce flexible back planes cheaply. Xerox, in particular, has created a working prototype of system that lets manufacturers create flexible transistor boards much like one would print a regular paper document.

Production costs are expected to be low enough soon for publishers to consider giving away such devices for free with an annual subscription. Data on subscribers could also help publishers better tailor ads.

Sony's reader will cost between $300 and $400. "If you can get one of these products to cost less than the cost of a year's subscription it could probably work," Kenneth Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media, said.

He declined to name which other groups plan testing, but said Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle and Houston Chronicle will likely be among the first of its 12 daily papers to offer such devices to several hundred subscribers later this year.

In Europe, Ifra is discussing trials with 21 newspapers from 13 countries. The New York Times Co. is a member.

Sony is separately in discussions with some publishers to offer newspaper downloads in its e-bookstore due to launch this summer, although no decision has been made, said Lee Shirani, vice president of Sony's online content service, Sony Connect.

A Flash Drive That Holds Your Computer
David Pogue

YOUR digital life spins at 7,200 rotations a minute on your computer's hard drive. A delicate reading arm, hovering a fraction of an inch above the surface of the drive's spinning platters, dances across them at 60 miles an hour; one bump, and your files are toast. Your hard drive's likelihood of mechanical failure is 100 percent; it's just a matter of when.

And this is how society has chosen to preserve its future?

There may soon be an alternative: those tiny, shiny flash drives (also called thumb drives, jump drives, U.S.B. drives or keychain drives).

A flash drive has no moving parts. It's rugged. It's fast. And goodness knows, it's portable. Without any special installation or drivers, you can stick a flash drive into the U.S.B. jack of any computer — Mac, Windows, whatever. It shows up on the screen as if it were a hard drive, making all your documents available.

But if all you want to carry around is photos and Word files, you could just burn a CD. What if your flash drive also stored your programs, your settings — your entire computing universe?

That's the idea behind the Lexar PowerToGo software, which is itself a licensed version of something called Ceedo Personal. It's designed to turn a flash drive into a portable Windows XP ecosystem, meaning that you can jack into anybody's PC anywhere and find yourself — and your software tools — right at home.

Starting in July, Lexar will include PowerToGo on all of its Platinum series flash drives ($53 for a one-gigabyte model, $90 for a two-gig; a four-gig model is due in August). PowerToGo will also run on older Lexar drives (www.lexar.com/powertogo), although you'll have to pay $30 for it after a trial period. If you have some other brand of flash drive, you can download Ceedo Personal from www.ceedo.com; here again, a 30-day trial is free, and after that, you have to pay $40. Keep in mind, however, that faster flash drives provide a much zippier experience; Lexar claims that its Lightning models, for example, are two to six times as fast as typical flash drives.

Now, you're entitled to ask: "What's the big whoop? Why do I need some special software? Can't I put one of my programs onto a flash drive just by dragging its icon?"

You can, but it won't run. The installer for a Windows program does a lot more than add the program's name to your Start menu. Behind the scenes, it sprays all kinds of little support files into the four corners of the Windows archipelago, tucking them into special locations in your Windows folder, making changes to your registry (the master database of Windows software and settings) and so on. A program can't run without those files.

CEEDO isn't the first company to tackle this problem. A start-up called U3 already makes it possible to install programs directly onto flash drives. Trouble is, this stunt requires not only specially designed flash drives (bearing the U3 logo) but also specially modified programs, of which there are only 150 so far, most of which cost about $30. (U3 argues that this hardware-software solution offers greater security than Ceedo's — for example, you can protect your flash drive with a password.)

Ceedo's design, on the other hand, requires neither special programs nor special flash drives; in fact, it even runs on iPods and other portable drives (although Lexar's version runs only on Lexar flash drives). Ceedo-equipped drives trick software installers into spraying their pieces into its own duplicate of your Windows folder. There's even a portable, duplicate registry on board.

After installing your favorite programs, you're ready to sally forth into the world of Windows computers. When you plug your drive into any PC — at, say, a Kinko's, an airport waiting lounge or a friend's house — a dialogue box offers to run Ceedo Personal or PowerToGo, depending on which version you use.

If you click O.K., a neat miniature Start menu appears at the bottom of the screen. Here are all your programs, ready to run.

If you choose Internet Explorer, Opera or Firefox from this Start menu, for example, that Web browser opens up, complete with all of your bookmarks and even your browser plug-ins. If you choose Outlook Express or Thunderbird, you get your familiar e-mail collection. (This flash-drive system is therefore one good way to keep a single e-mail collection as you shuttle between home and work.) In Skype (for making free Internet phone calls) or AOL Instant Messenger (for typed chat), your buddy list opens, ready and waiting. On a fast flash drive connected to a U.S.B. 2.0 jack, all of this runs quickly and slickly.

When you're finished and you eject the drive, not a shred of your presence is left behind. Even the behind-the-scenes Web browser junk that's ordinarily dumped onto your hard drive — cookies, temp files, browsing history and the like — are actually stored on the flash drive. The borrowed PC is left clean, including its clipboard, which was holding whatever you most recently copied.

If it all worked perfectly, it would hint at a future where we could abandon not only the heartache of hard-drive failure, but even the expense, frustration and obsolescence of PC ownership. It would suggest that in, say, 2025, we'll store our entire digital worlds onto cheap 160-gigabyte flash drives. We'd jack into public computer terminals everywhere we go — taxis, restaurants, airplane tray tables — and pick right up where we left off. We'd leave buying, maintaining and de-virusing the computers themselves to professionals.

Ceedo and Lexar point proudly to the list of 100 compatible programs listed on their Web sites. There's good, brand-name stuff here, including Skype, Google Talk, AIM, WinAmp, Picasa and WinZip — but all of them are either freebies or shareware.

Unfortunately, commercial productivity programs are another story. You can't install Microsoft Office, for example. Of course, as Lexar points out, most PC's you're likely to encounter already have Office installed. In those situations, Ceedo/Lexar does the right thing: it fires up the computer's copy, but using your own preference settings — toolbars, standard font and so on.

Quicken 2006, FileMaker Pro and Dreamweaver 8 install smoothly. Most others, though, conk out with cryptic error messages at the very end of the installation cycle, including Photoshop Elements, OpenOffice, Palm Desktop, MusicMatch, the Now Up-to-Date calendar and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Some programs are too big to install practically; others apparently don't work because of copy protection or unusually complex installations.

Ceedo is working on fixes for some programs, including iTunes and Microsoft Outlook. That's fortunate, because your e-mail and music collections are great candidates for portability.

Figuring out how to install programs from their original CD's isn't obvious, however. You open up the drive's copy of Internet Explorer, type the drive letter of the software installer into the address bar (D:\ to see what's in your CD drive, for example), and then navigate three folders deep to the program's setup installer.

This situation will improve. Ceedo is working on a software installer called Install Anything that it says will make installing all kinds of programs much easier. (Lexar will charge $30 for this installer, even for people who get PowerToGo on new Lexar drives.) Unfortunately, even the not-quite-honestly named Install Anything won't be able to install every program on your flash drive.

Still, Ceedo/Lexar have already done the world a great favor with this software. Even without Install Anything, your flash drive can already store your e-mail program and e-mail, browser and bookmarks, chat program and contacts, essential utilities (FTP and zipping programs, for example), and the trappings of your Microsoft Office environment.

If that's not every last program you'll ever need, it's still the core of your computing existence. And having it dangling from your keychain at all times is a tempting prospect. It means that the next time you're caught without your computer, you can get at your software — in a flash.

Data on Nuclear Agency Workers Hacked: Lawmaker
Chris Baltimore

A computer hacker got into the U.S. agency that guards the country's nuclear weapons stockpile and stole the personal records of at least 1,500 employees and contractors, a senior U.S. lawmaker said on Friday.

The target of the hacker, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, is the latest agency to reveal that sensitive private information about government workers was stolen.

The incident happened last September but top Energy Department officials were not told about it until this week, prompting the chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee to demand the resignation of the head of the NNSA.

An NNSA spokesman was not available for comment.

The NNSA is a semi-autonomous arm of the Energy Department and also guards some of the U.S. military's nuclear secrets and responds to global nuclear and radiological emergencies.

Committee chairman Rep. Joe Barton said NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks should be "removed from your office as expeditiously as possible" because he did not quickly notify senior Energy Department officials of the breach.

"And I mean like 5 o'clock this afternoon if it's possible," Barton, a Texas Republican, said in a statement.

Earlier this week the Pentagon revealed that personal information on about 2.2 million active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops was stolen last month from a government employee's house.

That comes on top of the theft of data on 26.5 million U.S. military veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said.

A spokesman for Energy Secretary Sam Bodman declined comment on the call for Brooks' resignation but said the secretary was "deeply disturbed about the way this was handled internally" and would make it a priority to notify workers about the lapse.

The "vast majority" of those workers were contractors, not direct government employees, said the spokesman Craig Stevens.

According to Barton, the NNSA chief knew about the incident soon after it happened in September but did not inform Energy Department officials, including Bodman, until Wednesday.

"I don't see how you could meet with (Bodman) every day the last seven or eight months and not inform him," Barton said.

He said Brooks cited "bureaucratic confusion" to explain the reporting lapse.

"It appears that each side of that organization assumed that the other side had made the appropriate notification," Brooks told the House energy panel's oversight and investigations subcommittee, according to a record provided by Barton's office.

"Just as the secretary just learned about this week, I learned this week that the secretary didn't know," Brooks said. "There are a number of us who in hindsight should have done things differently on informing."

Chipmakers Admit: Your Power May Vary
Tom Krazit

If there's one lesson to be learned from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices' weeklong spat over server power consumption, it's that test drives are important.

Assessing only pure performance is passe. The debate these days is about performance-per-watt, which seems like it should be a simple miles-per-gallon type of calculation. However, miles are miles, and gallons are gallons. There's no one simple way to measure processor performance, and measuring the amount of power output by today's chips is proving just as difficult.

"We do have industry-standard benchmarks for performance, however imperfect they may be," said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata. "We do not have industry-standard benchmarks for performance-per-watt," he said, adding that it might be some time before those are developed.

Intel and AMD have taken to the PowerPoint slides over the past week, presenting different ideas of how much power is consumed by the other's platform. After AMD took the first shots last week during its analyst meeting, Intel countered with a briefing Friday morning with Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's server group.

Intel is getting set to release Woodcrest, a new server processor, on June 26, Skaugen announced Friday. Woodcrest will be a major boost to Intel's server division when it comes to performance, and Intel believes it will retake the lead in this new metric of performance per watt, he said. AMD, however, is unwilling to concede that point just yet, although its competitive marketing no longer cites the pure-performance benchmarks that have carried it through the last two years.

Processor and server vendors often point to several well-known benchmark tests when they want to measure processor performance in certain types of situations, such as the various TPC (Transaction Processing Performance Council) benchmarks for online transaction processing or Web serving, and the SPEC (Standards Performance Evaluation Corporation) tests for measuring integer and floating-point performance. But vendors spend millions tweaking their systems to produce favorable results on those tests, which means most customers insist on running test systems in their own environments before making a decision.

There's even less precedent for measuring power consumption. Traditionally, vendors have pointed to TDP (thermal design power), which is a specification provided to server and PC makers as a guideline for the cooling systems they must design into their products. TDP is measured by tracking a processor's thermal output when it is running at 100 percent utilization.

Parsing the differences
But TDP is somewhat unrealistic, in that servers and PCs aren't usually running anywhere near full bore for extended periods of time. "This is like going around your house and counting light bulbs to determine the monthly power bill," Skaugen said.

AMD measures its power consumption using a "max power" figure, which represents the single largest amount of power that the chip can possibly accommodate, said Brent Kirby, product manager for servers and workstations at AMD. "We're conservative," he said, noting that in 2003 when AMD was trying to break into the server market with Opteron it couldn't afford to have any thermal problems, so it rated its chips at the maximum number.

The trouble is that hitting that maximum power number is even more unrealistic than TDP, said Cory Roletto, a platform marketing engineer at Intel. For that reason, Intel uses TDP numbers to rate its chips. However, while AMD's TDP numbers are its maximum power numbers, Intel's TDP numbers are lower than its maximum power numbers. When it makes its comparisons, AMD uses the "max power" numbers that Intel publishes in its technical documents. This makes it look like there is more of a difference between the two companies in real-world situations, even though AMD's Kirby conceded that the maximum power number cited is virtually unattainable for almost any real-world workload.

Many ways to get results
Intel's argument in claiming performance-per-watt superiority is that Woodcrest represents a new performance lead, putting it so far ahead of AMD that Intel wins the performance-per-watt game as well. The company has released impressive benchmarking results based on preproduction systems. Those results would appear to give Woodcrest a clear lead over AMD systems.

But in the configuration information listed in the fine print, in some cases the Intel systems were using twice as much memory as the AMD systems, such as in the TPC-C, SAP and Lotus Domino tests. Intel claimed a 49 percent, 21 percent and 30 percent advantage, respectively, in those tests. To be fair, Intel also published the results of other tests in which the AMD system had twice as much memory and Intel still prevailed by a healthy margin.

The confusing result is that the numbers both companies are throwing around in presentations to financial analysts and the press are open to a fair amount of interpretation, depending on where your loyalties are. If there are multiple ways of measuring performance, and multiple ways of measuring power, then there are even more ways of measuring performance-per-watt.

So how does a server buyer make a decision? The old-fashioned way: Insist on a test system. The only way to be totally sure which particular system is best suited for a particular environment is to run that system in the environment, both Kirby and Roletto agreed. Buyers can test the performance of their application environment, and use power meters to test the power consumption of these systems "at the wall."

This is by far the best way to measure power consumption, said John Enck, an analyst with Gartner. Some IT managers Enck has spoken to are starting to measure kilowatts per rack, or how much energy it takes to keep a rack of servers up and running.

Of course, this hasn't stopped either company from spending lots of time and effort throwing around the numbers in an attempt to influence buyers. What would be nice is an energy rating, like those on refrigerators, that shows how much energy a server consumes compared with the range of available products, analysts said. AMD and server vendors have started to discuss these issues in a consortium called the Green Grid, but it will be hard to get everyone on the same page.

"Without naming any names, if Company A is lagging Company B in performance per watt, they are not going to be thrilled about signing up for some agreed-to industry-standard benchmark that puts them behind." Haff said.

Net Neutrality: Who voted for What?

NOTE: There was an error in this listing. It has been corrected! I apologize. It was an accidental typo! I have double checked this link and there should be no errors. If you do find an error please let me know! Thank you.

The largest telephone and cable companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner want to be able to decide which websites run fast, slow or not at all. They want to be able to charge extra money for fast service and if web sites don’t pay extra then they’ll be doomed to a slow connection.

Net Neutrality wants to ensure that all sites get equal treatment.

The supporters of Net Neutrality include leading high-tech companies such as Amazon.com, Earthlink, EBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Skype, Vonage and Yahoo. Prominent national figures such as Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps have called for stronger Net Neutrality protections.

For More Information check out the Net Neutrality FAQ

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted NO for Net Neutrality. The list below shows the people who voted. I have arranged them by state so you can easily see how your representative voted. If you are FOR Net Neutrality and your representative voted NO then don’t vote for him/her in the next elections.


* Aderholt, Robert, Alabama, 4th NO

* Bachus, Spencer, Alabama, 6th NO

* Bonner, Jo, Alabama, 1st NO

* Cramer, Robert E. “Bud”, Alabama, 5th NO

* Davis, Artur, Alabama, 7th NO

* Everett, Terry, Alabama, 2nd NO

* Rogers, Mike, Alabama, 3rd NO


* Young, Don, Alaska, At Large NO


* Flake, Jeff , Arizona, 6th NO

* Franks, Trent, Arizona, 2nd NO

* Grijalva, Raul, Arizona, 7th YES

* Hayworth, J.D., Arizona, 5th NO

* Kolbe, Jim, Arizona, 8th NO

* Pastor, Ed , Arizona, 4th NO

* Renzi, Rick, Arizona, 1st NO

* Shadegg, John, Arizona, 3rd NO


* Berry, Marion, Arkansas, 1st NO

* Boozman, John, Arkansas, 3rd NO

* Ross, Mike, Arkansas, 4th YES

* Snyder, Vic, Arkansas, 2nd YES


* Baca, Joe, California, 43rd NO

* Becerra, Xavier, California, 31st YES

* Berman, Howard, California, 28th YES

* Bono, Mary, California, 45th FAILED TO VOTE

* Calvert, Ken, California, 44th NO

* Campbell, John, California, 48th NO

* Capps, Lois, California, 23rd YES

* Cardoza, Dennis, California, 18th NO

* Costa, Jim, California, 20th NO

* Cunningham, Randy “Duke”, California, 50th — Vacancy NO

* Davis, Susan, California, 53rd YES

* Doolittle, John, California, 4th NO

* Dreier, David, California, 26th NO

* Eshoo, Anna G., California, 14th YES

* Farr, Sam, California, 17th YES

* Filner, Bob, California, 51st YES

* Gallegly, Elton, California, 24th NO

* Harman, Jane, California, 36th YES

* Herger, Wally, California, 2nd NO

* Honda, Mike, California, 15th YES

* Hunter, Duncan, California, 52nd NO

* Issa, Darrell, California, 49th NO

* Lantos, Tom, California, 12th YES

* Lee, Barbara, California, 9th YES

* Lewis, Jerry, California, 41st YES

* Lofgren, Zoe, California, 16th YES

* Lungren, Daniel E., California, 3rd NO

* Matsui, Doris O., California, 5th YES

* McKeon, Buck, California, 25th NO

* Millender-McDonald, Juanita, California, 37th NO

* Miller, Gary, California, 42nd NO

* Miller, George, California, 7th YES

* Napolitano, Grace, California, 38Th YES

* Nunes, Devin, California, 21st NO

* Pelosi, Nancy, California, 8th YES

* Pombo, Richard, California, 11th NO

* Radanovich, George P., California, 19th NO

* Rohrabacher, Dana, California, 46th NO

* Roybal-Allard, Lucille, California, 34th YES

* Royce, Ed, California, 40th NO

* Sanchez, Linda, California, 39th YES

* Sanchez, Loretta, California, 47th NO

* Schiff, Adam, California, 29th YES

* Sherman, Brad, California, 27th YES

* Solis, Hilda, California, 32nd YES

* Stark, Fortney Pete, California, 13th YES

* Tauscher, Ellen, California, 10th YES

* Thomas, Bill, California, 22nd NO

* Thompson, Mike, California, 1st YES

* Waters, Maxine, California, 35th YES

* Watson, Diane E., California, 33rd YES

* Waxman, Henry, California, 30th YES

* Woolsey, Lynn, California, 6th YES


* Beauprez, Bob, Colorado, 7th NO

* DeGette, Diana, Colorado, 1st YES

* Hefley, Joel, Colorado, 5th NO

* Musgrave, Marilyn, Colorado, 4th NO

* Salazar, John T., Colorado, 3rd YES

* Tancredo, Tom, Colorado, 6th NO

* Udall, Mark, Colorado, 2nd YES


* DeLauro, Rosa L., Connecticut, 3rd YES

* Johnson, Nancy L., Connecticut, 5th NO

* Larson, John B., Connecticut, 1st YES

* Shays, Christopher, Connecticut, 4th YES

* Simmons, Rob, Connecticut, 2nd NO


* Castle, Michael N., Delaware, At Large NO


* Bilirakis, Michael, Florida, 9th NO

* Boyd, Allen, Florida, 2nd NO

* Brown, Corrine, Florida, 3rd NO

* Brown-Waite, Virginia, Florida, 5th NO

* Crenshaw, Ander, Florida, 4th NO

* Davis, Jim, Florida, 11th FAILED TO VOTE

* Diaz-Balart, Lincoln, Florida, 21st NO

* Diaz-Balart, Mario, Florida, 25th NO

* Feeney, Tom, Florida, 24th NO

* Foley, Mark, Florida, 16th NO

* Harris, Katherine, Florida, 13th NO

* Hastings, Alcee L., Florida, 23rd NO

* Keller, Ric, Florida, 8th NO

* Mack, Connie, Florida, 14th NO

* Meek, Kendrick, Florida, 17th NO

* Mica, John, Florida, 7th NO

* Miller, Jeff, Florida, 1st NO

* Putnam, Adam, Florida, 12th NO

* Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana, Florida, 18th NO

* Shaw Jr., E. Clay , Florida, 22nd NO

* Stearns, Cliff, Florida, 6th NO

* Wasserman Schultz, Debbie, Florida, 20th YES

* Weldon, Dave, Florida, 15th NO

* Wexler, Robert, Florida, 19th YES

* Young, C.W. Bill, Florida, 10th NO


* Barrow, John, Georgia, 12th NO NO

* Bishop Jr., Sanford D., Georgia, 2nd NO

* Deal, Nathan, Georgia, 10th NO

* Gingrey, Phil, Georgia, 11th NO

* Kingston, Jack, Georgia, 1st FAILED TO VOTE

* Lewis, John, Georgia, 5th YES

* Linder, John, Georgia, 7th NO

* Marshall, Jim, Georgia, 3rd YES

* McKinney, Cynthia, Georgia, 4th YES

* Norwood, Charlie, Georgia, 9th NO

* Price, Tom, Georgia, 6th YES

* Scott, David, Georgia, 13th YES

* Westmoreland, Lynn A., Georgia, 8th NO


* Abercrombie, Neil, Hawaii, 1st YES

* Case, Ed, Hawaii, 2nd YES


* Otter, Butch, Idaho, 1st NO

* Simpson, Mike, Idaho, 2nd NO


* Bean, Melissa L., Illinois, 8th YES

* Biggert, Judy, Illinois, 13th NO

* Costello, Jerry, Illinois, 12th YES

* Davis, Danny K., Illinois, 7th NO

* Emanuel, Rahm, Illinois, 5th YES

* Evans, Lane, Illinois, 17th FAILED TO VOTE

* Gutierrez, Luis, Illinois, 4th YES

* Hastert, Denny, Illinois, 14th NO

* Hyde, Henry, Illinois, 6th NO

* Jackson Jr., Jesse L., Illinois, 2nd YES

* Johnson, Timothy V., Illinois, 15th NO

* Kirk, Mark, Illinois, 10th NO

* Lahood, Ray, Illinois, 18th NO

* Lipinski, Daniel, Illinois, 3rd YES

* Manzullo, Donald, Illinois, 16th FAILED TO VOTE

* Rush, Bobby L., Illinois, 1st NO

* Schakowsky, Jan, Illinois, 9th YES

* Shimkus, John, Illinois, 19th NO

* Weller, Jerry, Illinois, 11th NO


* Burton, Dan, Indiana, 5th YES

* Buyer, Steve, Indiana, 4th NO

* Carson, Julia, Indiana, 7th YES

* Chocola, Chris, Indiana, 2nd NO

* Hostettler, John N., Indiana, 8th NO

* Pence, Mike, Indiana, 6th NO

* Sodrel, Michael E., Indiana, 9th NO

* Souder, Mark E., Indiana, 3rd NO

* Visclosky, Peter, Indiana, 1st YES


* Boswell, Leonard, Iowa, 3rd NO

* King, Steve, Iowa, 5th NO

* Latham, Tom, Iowa, 4th NO

* Leach, Jim, Iowa, 2nd YES

* Nussle, Jim, Iowa, 1st FAILED TO VOTE


* Moore, Dennis, Kansas, 3rd YES

* Moran, Jerry, Kansas, 1st YES

* Ryun, Jim, Kansas, 2nd NO

* Tiahrt, Todd, Kansas, 4th NO


* Chandler, Ben, Kentucky, 6th YES

* Davis, Geoff, Kentucky, 4th NO

* Lewis, Ron, Kentucky, 2nd NO

* Northup, Anne, Kentucky, 3rd NO

* Rogers, Harold, Kentucky, 5th NO

* Whitfield, Ed, Kentucky, 1st NO


* Alexander, Rodney, Louisiana, 5th NO NO

* Baker, Richard, Louisiana, 6th NO NO

* Boustany Jr., Charles W., Louisiana, 7th NO

* Jefferson, William J., Louisiana, 2nd NO

* Jindal, Bobby, Louisiana, 1st NO

* McCrery, Jim, Louisiana, 4th NO

* Melancon, Charlie, Louisiana, 3rd NO


* Allen, Tom, Maine, 1st YES

* Michaud, Michael, Maine, 2nd NO


* Bartlett, Roscoe, Maryland, 6th NO

* Cardin, Benjamin L., Maryland, 3rd YES

* Cummings, Elijah, Maryland, 7th NO

* Gilchrest, Wayne, Maryland, 1st NO

* Hoyer, Steny H., Maryland, 5th YES

* Ruppersberger, Dutch, Maryland, 2nd NO

* Van Hollen, Chris, Maryland, 8th YES

* Wynn, Albert, Maryland, 4th NO


* Capuano, Michael E., Massachusetts, 8th YES

* Delahunt, William, Massachusetts, 10th YES

* Frank, Barney, Massachusetts, 4th YES

* Lynch, Stephen F., Massachusetts, 9th YES

* Markey, Ed, Massachusetts, 7th YES

* McGovern, James, Massachusetts, 3rd YES

* Meehan, Marty, Massachusetts, 5th YES

* Neal, Richard E., Massachusetts, 2nd YES

* Olver, John, Massachusetts, 1st YES

* Tierney, John, Massachusetts, 6th YES


* Camp, Dave, Michigan, 4th NO

* Conyers Jr., John, Michigan, 14th YES

* Dingell, John, Michigan, 15th YES

* Ehlers, Vernon J., Michigan, 3rd NO

* Hoekstra, Pete, Michigan, 2nd NO

* Kildee, Dale, Michigan, 5th YES

* Kilpatrick, Carolyn, Michigan, 13th YES

* Knollenberg, Joseph , Michigan, 9th NO

* Levin, Sander, Michigan, 12th YES

* McCotter, Thaddeus, Michigan, 11th NO

* Miller, Candice, Michigan, 10th NO

* Rogers, Mike, Michigan, 8th NO

* Schwarz, John J.H. “Joe”, Michigan, 7th NO

* Stupak, Bart, Michigan, 1st YES

* Upton, Fred, Michigan, 6th NO


* Gutknecht, Gil, Minnesota, 1st NO

* Kennedy, Mark, Minnesota, 6th NO

* Kline, John, Minnesota, 2nd NO

* McCollum, Betty, Minnesota, 4th YES

* Oberstar, James L., Minnesota, 8th YES

* Peterson, Collin C., Minnesota, 7th YES

* Ramstad, Jim, Minnesota, 3rd NO

* Sabo, Martin Olav, Minnesota, 5th YES


* Pickering, Charles W. “Chip”, Mississippi, 3rd NO

* Taylor, Gene, Mississippi, 4th YES

* Thompson, Bennie G., Mississippi, 2nd YES

* Wicker, Roger, Mississippi, 1st NO


* Akin, Todd, Missouri, 2nd NO NO

* Blunt, Roy, Missouri, 7th NO

* Carnahan, Russ, Missouri, 3rd NO

* Clay Jr., William “Lacy”, Missouri, 1st NO

* Cleaver, Emanuel, Missouri, 5th NO

* Emerson, Jo Ann, Missouri, 8th NO

* Graves, Sam, Missouri, 6th NO

* Hulshof, Kenny, Missouri, 9th NO

* Skelton, Ike, Missouri, 4th NO


* Rehberg, Dennis, Montana, At Large NO


* Fortenberry, Jeff, Nebraska, 1st NO

* Osborne, Tom, Nebraska, 3rd NO

* Terry, Lee, Nebraska, 2nd NO


* Berkley, Shelley, Nevada, 1st YES

* Gibbons, Jim, Nevada, 2nd FAILED TO VOTE

* Porter, Jon, Nevada, 3rd NO

New Jersey

* Andrews, Robert E., New Jersey, 1st YES

* Ferguson, Michael, New Jersey, 7th NO

* Frelinghuysen, Rodney, New Jersey, 11th NO

* Garrett, Scott, New Jersey, 5th NO

* Holt, Rush, New Jersey, 12th YES

* LoBiondo, Frank, New Jersey, 2nd NO

* Menendez, Bob, New Jersey, 13th — Vacancy NO

* Pallone Jr., Frank, New Jersey, 6th YES

* Pascrell Jr., Bill, New Jersey, 8th YES

* Payne, Donald M., New Jersey, 10th YES

* Rothman, Steven, New Jersey, 9th YES

* Saxton, Jim, New Jersey, 3rd NO

* Smith, Chris, New Jersey, 4th NO

New Hampshire

* Bass, Charles, New Hampshire, 2nd NO

* Bradley, Jeb, New Hampshire, 1st NO

New Mexico

* Pearce, Steve, New Mexico, 2nd NO

* Udall, Tom, New Mexico, 3rd YES

* Wilson, Heather, New Mexico, 1st YES

New York

* Ackerman, Gary, New York, 5th NO NO

* Bishop, Timothy, New York, 1st YES

* Boehlert, Sherwood L., New York, 24th NO

* Crowley, Joseph, New York, 7th NO

* Engel, Eliot, New York, 17th YES

* Fossella, Vito, New York, 13th NO

* Higgins, Brian, New York, 27th YES

* Hinchey, Maurice, New York, 22nd YES

* Israel, Steve, New York, 2nd YES

* Kelly, Sue, New York, 19th NO

* King, Pete, New York, 3rd NO

* Kuhl Jr., John R. “Randy”, New York, 29th YES

* Lowey, Nita, New York, 18th YES

* Maloney, Carolyn, New York, 14th YES

* McCarthy, Carolyn, New York, 4th YES

* McHugh, John M., New York, 23rd FAILED TO VOTE

* McNulty, Michael R., New York, 21st YES

* Meeks, Gregory W., New York, 6th NO

* Nadler, Jerrold, New York, 8th YES

* Owens, Major, New York, 11th YES

* Rangel, Charles B., New York, 15th YES

* Reynolds, Thomas M., New York, 26th NO

* Serrano, José E., New York, 16th YES

* Slaughter, Louise, New York, 28th YES

* Sweeney, John E., New York, 20th NO

* Towns, Edolphus, New York, 10th NO

* Veláquez, Nydia M., New York, 12th YES

* Walsh, Jim, New York, 25th NO

* Weiner, Anthony D., New York, 9th YES

North Carolina

* Butterfield, G.K., North Carolina, 1st NO

* Coble, Howard, North Carolina, 6th NO

* Etheridge, Bob, North Carolina, 2nd NO

* Foxx, Virginia, North Carolina, 5th NO

* Hayes, Robin, North Carolina, 8th NO

* Jones, Walter B., North Carolina, 3rd YES

* McHenry, Patrick T., North Carolina, 10th NO

* McIntyre, Mike, North Carolina, 7th NO

* Miller, Brad, North Carolina, 13th YES

* Myrick, Sue, North Carolina, 9th NO

* Price, David, North Carolina, 4th YES

* Taylor, Charles H., North Carolina, 11th NO

* Watt, Mel, North Carolina, 12th YES

North Dakota

* Pomeroy, Earl, North Dakota, At Large YES


* Boehner, John A., Ohio, 8th NO

* Brown, Sherrod, Ohio, 13th YES

* Chabot, Steve, Ohio, 1st NO

* Gillmor, Paul, Ohio, 5th NO

* Hobson, David, Ohio, 7th NO

* Jones, Stephanie Tubbs, Ohio, 11th YES

* Kaptur, Marcy, Ohio, 9th YES

* Kucinich, Dennis J., Ohio, 10th YES

* LaTourette, Steven C., Ohio, 14th NO

* Ney, Robert W., Ohio, 18th NO

* Oxley, Michael G., Ohio, 4th NO

* Pryce, Deborah, Ohio, 15th NO

* Regula, Ralph, Ohio, 16th YES

* Ryan, Tim, Ohio, 17th YES

* Schmidt, Jean, Ohio, 2nd NO

* Strickland, Ted, Ohio, 6th YES

* Tiberi, Pat, Ohio, 12th NO

* Turner, Michael, Ohio, 3rd NO


* Boren, Dan, Oklahoma, 2nd NO

* Cole, Tom, Oklahoma, 4th NO

* Istook Jr., Ernest J., Oklahoma, 5th NO

* Lucas, Frank, Oklahoma, 3rd NO

* Sullivan, John, Oklahoma, 1st NO


* Blumenauer, Earl, Oregon, 3rd YES

* DeFazio, Peter, Oregon, 4th YES

* Hooley, Darlene, Oregon, 5th YES

* Walden, Greg, Oregon, 2nd NO

* Wu, David, Oregon, 1st YES


* Brady, Robert, Pennsylvania, 1st NO

* Dent, Charles W., Pennsylvania, 15th NO

* Doyle, Mike, Pennsylvania, 14th YES

* English, Phil, Pennsylvania, 3rd NO

* Fattah, Chaka, Pennsylvania, 2nd NO

* Fitzpatrick, Michael G., Pennsylvania, 8th YES

* Gerlach, Jim, Pennsylvania, 6th NO

* Hart, Melissa, Pennsylvania, 4th NO

* Holden, Tim, Pennsylvania, 17th NO

* Kanjorski, Paul E., Pennsylvania, 11th YES

* Murphy, Tim, Pennsylvania, 18th NO

* Murtha, John, Pennsylvania, 12th YES

* Peterson, John E., Pennsylvania, 5th FAILED TO VOTE

* Pitts, Joseph R., Pennsylvania, 16th NO

* Platts, Todd, Pennsylvania, 19th NO

* Schwartz, Allyson Y., Pennsylvania, 13th NO

* Sherwood, Don, Pennsylvania, 10th NO

* Shuster, Bill, Pennsylvania, 9th NO

* Weldon, Curt, Pennsylvania, 7th NO

Rhode Island

* Kennedy, Patrick, Rhode Island, 1st YES

* Langevin, Jim, Rhode Island, 2nd YES

South Carolina

* Barrett, J.Gresham, South Carolina, 3rd NO NO

* Brown, Henry, South Carolina, 1st NO

* Clyburn, James E., South Carolina, 6th NO

* Inglis, Bob, South Carolina, 4th NO

* Spratt, John, South Carolina, 5th NO

* Wilson, Joe, South Carolina, 2nd NO

South Dakota

* Herseth, Stephanie, South Dakota, At Large YES


* Blackburn, Marsha, Tennessee, 7th NO

* Cooper, Jim, Tennessee, 5th YES

* Davis, Lincoln, Tennessee, 4th NO

* Duncan Jr., John J., Tennessee, 2nd NO

* Ford, Harold, Tennessee, 9th YES

* Gordon, Bart, Tennessee, 6th YES

* Jenkins, William L., Tennessee, 1st NO

* Tanner, John, Tennessee, 8th NO

* Wamp, Zach, Tennessee, 3rd NO


* Barton, Joe, Texas, 6th NO

* Bonilla, Henry, Texas, 23rd NO

* Brady, Kevin, Texas, 8th NO

* Burgess, Michael, Texas, 26th NO

* Carter, John, Texas, 31st NO

* Conaway, K. Michael, Texas, 11th NO

* Cuellar, Henry, Texas, 28th NO

* Culberson, John, Texas, 7th NO

* DeLay, Tom, Texas, 22nd FAILED TO VOTE

* Doggett, Lloyd, Texas, 25th YES

* Edwards, Chet, Texas, 17th NO

* Gohmert, Louie, Texas, 1st NO

* Gonzalez, Charlie A., Texas, 20th NO

* Granger, Kay, Texas, 12th NO

* Green, Al, Texas, 9th NO

* Green, Gene, Texas, 29th NO

* Hall, Ralph M., Texas, 4th NO

* Hensarling, Jeb, Texas, 5th NO

* Hinojosa, Rubén, Texas, 15th NO

* Jackson Lee, Sheila, Texas, 18th NO

* Johnson, Eddie Bernice, Texas, 30th NO

* Johnson, Sam, Texas, 3rd NO

* Marchant, Kenny, Texas, 24th NO

* McCaul, Michael T., Texas, 10th NO

* Neugebauer, Randy, Texas, 19th NO

* Ortiz, Solomon P., Texas, 27th NO

* Paul, Ron, Texas, 14th NO

* Poe, Ted, Texas, 2nd NO

* Reyes, Silvestre, Texas, 16th FAILED TO VOTE

* Sessions, Pete, Texas, 32nd NO

* Smith, Lamar, Texas, 21st NO

* Thornberry, Mac, Texas, 13th NO


* Bishop, Rob, Utah, 1st NO

* Cannon, Chris, Utah, 3rd NO

* Matheson, Jim, Utah, 2nd YES


* Sanders, Bernie, Vermont, At Large YES


* Boucher, Rick, Virginia, 9th YES

* Brown-Waite, Virginia, Florida, 5th NO

* Cantor, Eric, Virginia, 7th NO

* Capito, Shelley Moore, West Virginia, 2nd NO

* Davis, Jo Ann S., Virginia, 1st NO

* Davis, Tom, Virginia, 11th YES

* Drake, Thelma D., Virginia, 2nd NO

* Forbes, J. Randy, Virginia, 4th NO

* Foxx, Virginia, North Carolina, 5th NO

* Goode Jr., Virgil H., Virginia, 5th NO

* Goodlatte, Bob, Virginia, 6th NO

* Mollohan, Alan B., West Virginia, 1st NO

* Moran, Jim, Virginia, 8th NO

* Rahall, Nick, West Virginia, 3rd NO

* Scott, Robert C. “Bobby”, Virginia, 3rd YES

* Wolf, Frank, Virginia, 10th YES


* Baird, Brian, Washington, 3rd YES

* Dicks, Norman D., Washington, 6th YES

* Hastings, Doc, Washington, 4th NO

* Inslee, Jay, Washington, 1st YES

* Larsen, Rick, Washington, 2nd NO

* McDermott, Jim, Washington, 7th YES

* McMorris, Cathy, Washington, 5th NO

* Reichert, David G., Washington, 8th YES

* Smith, Adam, Washington, 9th YES

West Virginia

* Capito, Shelley Moore, West Virginia, 2nd NO

* Mollohan, Alan B., West Virginia, 1st NO

* Rahall, Nick, West Virginia, 3rd NO


* Baldwin, Tammy, Wisconsin, 2nd YES

* Green, Mark, Wisconsin, 8th NO

* Kind, Ron, Wisconsin, 3rd YES

* Moore, Gwen, Wisconsin, 4th YES

* Obey, David R., Wisconsin, 7th YES

* Petri, Thomas, Wisconsin, 6th NO

* Ryan, Paul, Wisconsin, 1st NO

* Sensenbrenner, F. James, Wisconsin, 5th YES


* Cubin, Barbara, Wyoming, At Large NO


The Don't-Bother-to-Knock Rule

The Supreme Court yesterday substantially diminished Americans' right to privacy in their own homes. The rule that police officers must "knock and announce" themselves before entering a private home is a venerable one, and a well-established part of Fourth Amendment law. But President Bush's two recent Supreme Court appointments have now provided the votes for a 5-4 decision eviscerating this rule.

This decision should offend anyone, liberal or conservative, who worries about the privacy rights of ordinary Americans.

The case arose out of the search of Booker T. Hudson's home in Detroit in 1998. The police announced themselves but did not knock, and after waiting a few seconds, entered his home and seized drugs and a gun. There is no dispute that the search violated the knock-and-announce rule.

The question in the case was what to do about it. Mr. Hudson wanted the evidence excluded at his trial. That is precisely what should have happened. Since 1914, the Supreme Court has held that, except in rare circumstances, evidence seized in violation of the Constitution cannot be used. The exclusionary rule has sometimes been criticized for allowing criminals to go free just because of police error. But as the court itself recognized in that 1914 case, if this type of evidence were admissible, the Fourth Amendment "might as well be stricken."

The court ruled yesterday that the evidence could be used against Mr. Hudson. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, argued that even if police officers did not have to fear losing a case if they disobeyed the knock-and-announce rule, the subjects of improper searches could still bring civil lawsuits to challenge them. But as the dissenters rightly pointed out, there is little chance that such suits would keep the police in line. Justice Scalia was also far too dismissive of the important privacy rights at stake, which he essentially reduced to "the right not to be intruded upon in one's nightclothes." Justice Stephen Breyer noted in dissent that even a century ago the court recognized that when the police barge into a house unannounced, it is an assault on "the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life."

If Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had stayed on the court, this case might well have come out the other way. For those who worry that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will take the court in a radically conservative direction, it is sobering how easily the majority tossed aside a principle that traces back to 13th-century Britain, and a legal doctrine that dates to 1914, to let the government invade people's homes.
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Old 15-06-06, 11:32 AM   #2
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The Theft of Culture

Western culture, the basis of our daily lives, the culmination of our works and our desires, is the arbitrary collection of the things we use to define ourselves as individuals and as a people, and many different things comprise this collection. We have our daily rituals and our friendships and our physical possessions and our belief structures, and western civilization as a whole is complex, colorful, deeply flawed, and a thing of beauty all at the same time. So all-encompassing is our culture that often it is difficult to decide whether our culture is the product of our collective experiences or if the reverse is true.

But perhaps that doesn't matter as much as the question of ownership: do we own our culture or does our culture own us? That may sound absurd, but think about it like this. Our history is the history of property disputes, and what it all comes down to is possession. A man who can prove he possess an object is considered the object's rightful owner, but for a physical item or a parcel of land that is a simple thing to prove. Perhaps a better way to put this would be: do we possess our culture or are we possessed by it? Concepts and ideas are almost impossible for one person to possess exclusively. An idea may be a phrase, a melody, a discovery about the natural world, a philosophy, or any number of intangible things, and due to their ephemeral nature there is nothing easier than to reproduce and distribute them.

So when it comes to a question of ownership of an idea, we look for the origin of the idea and attribute ownership to the person who first person who fixed it in physical form, in words on a page or the like. But because, just by talking about it, an idea may be reproduced and distributed, enforcing property laws concerning ideas is challenging, and for the past four centuries that has been the central preoccupation of the creators and publishers of books, songs, photographs, films, inventions, software, and every other form of entertainment. Suffice it to say, after four hundred years people have made a real mess of things.

Who Really Owns Ideas?

One thing will always be true: people will tend to take possession of the ideas, concepts, and stories of their times as if they had actually created them, because in a way they have. If not for the audience, the author would never write anything. The audience creates the need for ideas to be fixed in physical form, and the audience provides the motivation for specific ideas to be expressed. And because ideas are created specifically for their cultures of origin they become inextricable parts of those cultures. Take ancient Greek literature, for example. The Republic by Plato and the Odyssey by Homer were written for Greek audiences because Greeks could identify with the concepts and stories they contain. But we identify these writings as much with ancient Greek civilization as we do with their respective authors, and ultimately we have become the owners of these timeless writings because we inherited them from our ideological fore bearers; those books now belong to everyone.

It is inevitable that any creative work that endures through the ages will eventually become the property of humanity, even when the laws of the many nations are designed to prevent this occurrence. Can it be denied that this is the natural order of things? Above all, everyone can agree that people who have left this Earth for the great beyond can no longer possess earthly things, and copyrighted works fall into that category. We may certainly continue to attribute the creation of a work to its originator long after he or she has died, and often by doing so we immortalize the memory of that person. However, the exclusive ownership of an idea need not endure longer than the person who came up with it for it to survive the ages unscathed, because right or wrong, that idea will become a part of a culture and from then on it always will be.

However, the really good ideas tend to spread far and wide long before the deaths of their creators, and these days they can reach every corner of the globe in a single day. That kind of takes the fun out of being creative sometimes. It is widely agreed that once an idea is fixed in time and space that it should be protected by law to give the originator due respect and possibly monetary compensation, this that we may reward people for performing tasks that are not rewarding in and of themselves. To enforce this opinion we have given ourselves the gift of copyright, a set of laws that place unnatural limitations on society in order to benefit us in the long run by enlarging the body of our collective knowledge and the culture we use to identify ourselves. Though created with the good intent of maintaining fairness and balance, copyright has become overbearing, resulting in a impoverished public domain and the loss of the freedoms of otherwise law abiding citizens.

A Good Idea Goes Bad

People first began claiming exclusive rights to their creative works when the invention of the printing press kicked off the Renaissance. The advent of cheap, durable paper and movable type made producing books immensely easier than scribing them by hand, as had been done for centuries before. The problem was that there were people who made money from writing books and there were other people who made money from printing and selling them, and usually the right to make copies was granted to the printer rather than the author. A printer might produce and sell a few hundred copies of a book and later discover that other printers were selling the same book and not sharing the profits. So laws were made that gave certain printers exclusive rights to print books, provided they cleared them with the government first. This gave rise to printing guilds that developed their own rules of conduct concerning copyrights, and nowhere in these guilds were the concerns of authors represented. At this time in history copyrights were considered to last forever.

Then in 1709 “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned,” better known as the Statute of Anne, was enacted by the British Parliament. It gave authors rather than publishers the rights to their works and limited those rights to fourteen years from the date of publishing, renewable once for a second fourteen year term. This eventually led to the birth of public domain, the idea that after a period of time a printed work could no longer be monopolized by an individual and from then on would be freely available to everyone. Most people agree that the public domain is a great resource, providing people with a basis for future creative works and for scientific and historical research. Public domain can be thought of an aspect of culture that legally belongs to everyone.

However, as outlined above, just because an idea is the legal property of an individual does not mean that society will not take possession of it as well. When copyright law was new it may not have provided protection for a long enough period of time for the author to justify the effort of publishing a book, so the terms of protection were extended as time went on. This is evident in the history of the United States when early on the first copyright law enacted there gave the same rights to authors that the Statute of Anne did. It was eventually amended to increase the term of protection to twenty eight years plus a fourteen year renewal, then to twenty eight years with a twenty eight year renewal, and so on until the Copyright Act of 1976 extended the term of protection to the lifetime of the author plus fifty years. That act was passed so the U.S. could comply with the Berne convention which it signed in 1988.

Then Greed Set In

Such a long copyright term flies in the face of the fact that people who are dead do not need copyright protection. If all goes well, a person who publishes a book will see a large return on his work and can use the money to finance future books and provide a living for himself and his family. But a term that lasts for the lifetime of the author and longer provides no incentive for the author to write new books if his previous books continue to generate income forever. When the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was passed in the United States the motive was clear: the Walt Disney Company didn't want its copyright on Mickey Mouse to expire. It wanted to rest on the laurels of the late Walt Disney to generate revenue for the company, removing the need to hire new talent to create new animated characters. Obviously Mr. Disney himself benefits not at all from the extension of his creation's copyright term.

Copyright law also provides for statutory damages when a copyright is violated, and over the years the minimum and maximum penalties have been increased as well. The promise of cashing in on the crimes of pirates has become too much for copyright owners to ignore, and the music industry represented by the Recording Industry Association of America demonstrates this fact well. In 1999 when the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act was passed, the maximum penalty assessable for willful copyright infringement was increased to $150,000. In 2003 the RIAA took full advantage of this change in order to threaten its customers with multi-million-dollar lawsuits for their online copyright infringement activities. To date these law suits have numbered almost 20,000 cases, about half of which have been settled for amounts averaging $3,500. That comes out to $35,000,000 of revenue generated in two and a half years with out the sale of one song or album. If the record industry stopped making records today it could thrive for nearly a century by licensing the use of old recordings and suing people for infringement. Without a doubt copyright law as it stands today exists only to make copyright owners wealthy, the public welfare be damned.

The Lost Spirit of Sharing

There was a time when the leaders of this country understood that a balance must be struck between the rights of content creators and the general public. It started with the framers who, in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, wrote “the Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Two important things can be read from this clause: first that the purpose of copyright is to promote scientific and artistic progress, thereby enlarging the culture of the United States, and second that the terms of these rights are only meant to be enforced for reasonably limited periods of time. Mary Bono, who sponsored the Copyright Term Extension Act on behalf of her late husband once said, “Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever.” But when she was informed that such a change would violate the Constitution, she suggested that Congress consider a copyright term of “forever less one day,” a loophole conceived by the then-president of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti. If these people had their way then nothing would ever pass into the public domain ever again.

Almost a century ago Congress did not consider their Constitutional mandate burdensome, but sought to stay true to the spirit of the copyright clause. In 1909 the 60th Congress wrote, “The main object to be desired in expanding copyright protection accorded to music has been to give the composer an adequate return for the value of his composition, and it has been a serious and difficult task to combine the protection of the composer with the protection of the public, and to so frame an act that it would accomplish the double purpose of securing to the composer an adequate return for all use made of his composition and at the same time prevent the formation of oppressive monopolies, which might be founded upon the very rights granted to the composer for the purpose of protecting his interests.” Congress then understood that there is a balance that copyright law is meant to preserve, that these lawful monopolies are not meant to be used as a bludgeon to keep the public in check, but simply to provide incentive for individual creativity. They seemed to understand that, in the end, all creative works are meant to pass into the public domain for the benefit of everyone.

We Are Not the Thieves...

In times past, and especially in recent years, infringers of copyright have been called pirates and even thieves. Those appellations are not always justified. Piracy in this sense refers to the act of infringing an other person's copyright for the purpose of personal, monetary gain. International piracy is a big business abroad, especially in Asian countries where the concept of copyright is relatively new and the laws are lax. In the instances where black market groups invest large sums of capital in CD and DVD copying equipment, those men are rightfully labeled pirates, and what they do could justifiably be called theft. Often their products are of equal quality to the legally distributed versions published by record and movie studios around the world, but they sell for half the price or less. This makes legitimate sales in those countries very difficult to sustain. In those countries that have signed international copyright treaties these criminals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Piracy rings of such massive scale aren't as prevalent in western countries, and if they are they don't last long. Yet piracy is said by spokesmen for the RIAA and the MPAA to be as bad here as it is in Asia. These trade associations claim annual losses due to piracy of more than $4 billion and $6 billion respectively, and constantly blame peer to peer filesharing for a large percentage of those losses. They call filesharers pirates and thieves, comparing them to the real pirates and thieves who cost the entertainment industry real money. While some filesharers proudly wear the pirate label with tongue in cheek, none of them can justifiably be called thieves according to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the 1985 case of Dowling vs. United States, a pirate who was found guilty of mail fraud and copyright infringement for selling Elvis Presley recordings through the mail, appealed his theft convictions on the basis that he hadn't deprived the rightful owners of their original copies. The court agreed stating, “[transport of stolen property in interstate commerce] does not apply to this case because the rights of a copyright holder are 'different' from the rights of owners of other kinds of property.” The entertainment industry wishes to treat copyrighted works like any other kind of physical property, but they are in essence two vastly different things. The Supreme Court upheld this truth, forever eliminating the idea that copyright infringement and theft are the same thing.

...We Are the Victims of Theft

And yet property is being taken from its rightful owners, and shockingly it's one hundred percent legal. Eventually the public must inherit every idea, artistic creation, and invention so they may do the most good. Innovation and creation must not be impeded by greed, so at some point we must decide that there are certain creative works that no longer belong to their creators, and that decision must be made with all fairness in mind. So the question is not whether this should occur, but when.

For different creations perhaps different terms of protection should be applied. A patent on an invention or process, for instance, is usually based on scientific research, the kind that leads to profitable ventures and which are researched for that specific purpose. Those researchers have every right to profit from their work, but at the same time what they do cannot be called real science until their research is published and subject to peer review. For many companies this would mean the revelation of trade secrets followed by serious competition from other companies. In this instance the rights of companies to profit from their innovation must be balanced against the utilitarian need for advances in such fields as medical research. And at any rate, such innovations should be motivated by the impending expiration of previous patents in order to prevent stagnation.

Perhaps patent law needs reform, but not nearly as much a copyright law. While inventions and sciences can be said to contribute to the collective knowledge of man, literature and the arts play a major role in the expansion of culture. When asked what modern creations they most enjoy, people are probably more like to name a movie or song rather than an invention. It is the popular forms of entertainment that we identify with, these have the greatest impact on our psyches and our states of mind. They help us define who we are as a society, they become part of us. We are people who treasure individualism and we reject the idea that third parties can own or take control of us. This is why we chafe at the idea that someone else might be taking away our access to culture; we can't be who we are unless we're allowed free access to knowledge and ideas.

The problem with copyright terms isn't just that they are so long, but that they continue to be extended when there is no real need. I am 25 years old. If I live to be 75 years old this essay will be protected by copyright until the year 2126. I have no desire for that to happen, but to my despair, in the next decade or two the terms of copyright are likely to be extended again, as they have been at regular intervals for the past two centuries. So in effect, the copyright on this essay will never expire. The world will end in one way or an other long before my writings become public domain. It is for this reason that I'm publishing this under a Creative Commons license. I want people to have free access to my words, not just after I die, but now. My only purpose for writing this essay is for it to be read and passed on, and I think it's pitiful that I have to spell these rights out to my readers in advance.

This is my lesson: that which you do not deserve does not belong to you. I have done nothing to earn the right to have my works protected by law for 120 years and more, and I don't think I'll ever do something to deserve it. And I'm just like everyone else in this regard, because simply being a creative thinker does not merit perpetual ownership of a thought, especially considering that everyone is mortal and nobody can take their possessions with them when they die. But the industry cartels that publish music and movies and, to a lesser extent, books have laws on their side that make perpetual ownership of “intellectual property” possible. This doesn't just apply to the creations of contemporary artists but also to every copyrighted work since 1928 whose copyright was not allowed to lapse until 1976, after which nothing has entered the public domain without the express consent of the creator. The cartels simply do not deserve to own such a large chunk of our culture in perpetuity.

Every year that passes is a year that the cartels have contributed nothing to civilization. Every year that passes is a year that they have annexed a part of our souls. Every year that passes is a year they have stolen from us. The real shame of it all is that their continuing theft of culture is fully endorsed by international copyright law. Reform is needed, and it is needed now. The scales are tipped way to far in their direction, and if things do not change soon they'll end up owning our hearts and minds. The day our civilization as we know it ends is the day we don't mind buying pieces of our culture on a pay-per-view basis. Culture belongs to everybody until we allow a few individuals to possess it, at which point they will own us.

Spike 'Wrote World's Best Joke'

Comedian Spike Milligan was the author of the world's funniest joke, a psychology professor has claimed.

Professor Richard Wiseman carried out an internet experiment five years ago to find the world's best gag.

A joke about two US hunters who go into the woods topped the poll after more than 100,000 people around the world cast their vote on 40,000 jokes.

Professor Wiseman said the gag almost certainly originated from a 1951 Goons sketch written by Milligan.

He told the BBC News website he was watching a TV show after the comedian's death in 2002 when he saw an archive clip of The Goons sketch.

The circumstances in the sketch were different to the joke - it was set in a house in England, rather than woods in New Jersey - but the punchline was identical.

"It was a very, very weird coincidence," Professor Wiseman said.

"It was a very obscure Goons archive and it just happened to be the joke that won the Laugh Lab poll."


Bentine: I just came in and found him lying on the carpet there
Sellers: Oh, is he dead?
Bentine: I think so
Sellers: Hadn't you better make sure?
Bentine: Alright. Just a minute
Sound of two gun shots
Bentine: He's dead.

Professor Wiseman said he contacted Milligan's daughter Sile, who said she was confident it had been written by her father.

He said it was very rare to be able to track down the origin of any joke, as they are usually passed on by word of mouth.

"We will never know for certain if it wasn't something he heard and incorporated into a sketch, but that's unlikely, as he was a prolific writer of his own material," he said.

Professor Wiseman said the joke contained all three elements of what makes a good gag - anxiety, a feeling of superiority, and an element of surprise.

"It plays on the death theme and it makes us feel superior to the complete idiot who does not understand," he said.

"It also has the surprise element as we don't see the death coming."

Professor Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, said he was "delighted" that Milligan was behind the winner.

"I actually much prefer the Spike Milligan one because it is in a much funnier setting.

"I think Spike was a genius with that great kind of surreal humour.

"He actually once wrote a sketch about finding the world's funniest joke so it's a fantastic quirk."

Milligan, who died in 2002 at the age of 83, was one of the UK's most respected performers and was known to millions as one of the founding members of The Goons.

Together with Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine and Harry Secombe, the quartet helped redefine comedy programmes for a generation.

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"


Pixels, Photos and Moore
Nathan Myhrvold

Digital technology has taken the world by storm, so much so that it might be easy to think the revolution is over.

In photography, for example, it is tempting to think that once everybody has a digital camera, the transition will be complete and things will settle down, right? Wrong. The revolution is taking off; it is only the boring part that's nearly over.

The reason is Moore's Law, the notion behind advances in the computer industry for the past 40 years. Gordon Moore, a founder of Intel, observed in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip doubled every 18 months, and that is pretty much still true. More transistors for the computer mean more features and more bang for the consumer's buck. For digital cameras, the bang has meant sensors with more megapixels and bigger memory cards.

Some say the megapixel race will stop, just as people used to think that 8- bit, 16-bit or 32-bit computers would be enough. The problem with that reasoning is all the smart engineers who wake up every day looking for a competitive edge by turning computing power into something worth buying. I'm betting that they will succeed, because there are so many opportunities.

So far, camera designers have focused on vital but mundane tasks, like producing picture quality equal to that of film. Professionally, my 16-megapixel Canon is vastly better than film.

Yet why stop at film? I'm eagerly awaiting Canon's next move, probably to 25-plus megapixels. I'm what marketing people call an early adopter, but mark my words - you'll own a 16- or even a 25-megapixel point-and-shoot in a few years, and it will not stop there. By some estimates, your eyes have an effective resolution of more than 500 megapixels. If you can see it, why shouldn't a camera record it?

Even so, image resolution is the most mundane way to measure progress. Here are some things that are coming next:

The best digital cameras are already limited by the quality of their lenses. This won't last long because you can use more pixels - and some added digital processing power, courtesy of Moore's Law - to help correct lens defects. In an abstract mathematical sense, a lens performs a "calculation" on a scene, which can be done partly with signal- processing algorithms. This happens in Photoshop and other software, but it can be done better in the camera itself.

A key factor in quality is the ratio in brightness from the darkest to the lightest. The reason many pictures don't turn out is that in daytime the human eye can easily perceive a dynamic range of 10,000:1, while at night it is more like 1,000,000:1. Meanwhile, color slide film can record only about 32:1, and digital cameras, about 64:1.

In many situations, this forces a choice - do you expose for the light parts of the scene and let the dark parts go dead black, or save the shadows and turn the bright parts pure white? Future digital sensors will fix this, with ever broader dynamic range and greater light sensitivity (the ISO rating). At the same time, the digital noise that comes with high ISO today will diminish.

Of course, there will be a cost because the image files will get bigger. Today, most digital images use 24 bits for each pixel. High-end cameras already use 36 bits, and there will be a trend to 48 and then 96 bits. Photoshop already supports all these. This will require much more storage, but Moore's Law kicks in - doubling the number of bits at the same cost takes about 18 months.

Focus is another problem. How many of your pictures wind up fuzzy? Autofocus technology can help, but cameras today still have a limitation on how much of a scene can be in focus at one time, known as depth of field. If you focus on the flower in front of you, the mountain in the background is apt to be fuzzy. Yet technically there is no reason we can't get essentially infinite depth of field, again by using more digital processing.

Cameras will also change form. Today, they are basically film cameras without the film, which makes about as much sense as automobiles circa 1910, which were horse-drawn carriages without the horse. A car owner of that time would be pretty shocked by what is in a showroom now. Camera stores of the future will surprise us just as much.

Why choose between still and video; why not both? While you're at it, throw in 3-D data, wireless networking and Internet access.

So much change will lead to gnashing of teeth by traditionalists. But in the end, it is not the annoying limitations of old technology that matter. The wonder of photography comes from the nearly magical effect that captured moments in space and time can have on our hearts and our minds. That won't change, because it is in us, not in the equipment.

New LCD Technology Outperforms CRT
Tuan Nguyen

LCD panels have traditionally been lagging behind CRT monitors in terms of color response, saturation, accuracy and overall black-level response. Because LCDs are "always lit" by a backlight, deep dark blacks have been the Achilles heel of LCD technology. However, a company named eCinema Systems has announced a new LCD technology that it claims surpasses CRT in virtually every respect.

eCinema's new LCD technology is being called high dynamic range LCD, and also supports "deep color", which is higher than 24-bit color, starting at 30-bit or 36-bit and can go up to 48-bit. The new panels are able to display 36-bit color (12-bits per color channel), and 1000 to 4000 step gray-scales, producing fantastic gradients. Most LCDs today produce only 256 gray steps at most. This new "deep color" technology will be standard with the new HDMI 1.3 specification. What's most spectacular about eCinema's LCD display however, is its contrast ratio: 30,000:1. At this rating, eCinema's new DCM40HDR panel can achieve black levels that even CRTs cannot match. eCinema CEO Martin Euredjian said:

"It is well known that LCD displays did not until now produce the same deep blacks that were achievable when using a CRT. Color depth is, of course, the 8 bit bottleneck issue. Images on the screen -- at the pixel level -- are limited to a best-case of 256 levels between black and white. In other words, if you painted a gray scale you could, at most, see 256 steps. The reality of the matter is that due to calibration and gamma adjustments most displays can't do much better than about 200 steps between black and white."

eCinema will be launching its new DCM40HDR 40-inch LCD by Q4 of this year. The new panel will be a true 1080p display and will be suitable for professional applications where only CRTs were used. Key features of the DCM40HDR will be:

• Darkest black level output of any TFT in the market
• Can be used for professional color grading -- previously done using only CRTs
• Can be used for professional critical picture evaluation -- previously done using only CRTs
• Allows accurate viewing of intra-field motion on interlaced standards
• Video displayed at true frame rates for all standards
• Rugged shock mounted components for field operations

If eCinema's displays perform well, this could mean higher quality LCD panels across the industry. The company says that its DCM series of LCD panels are reference-grade monitors suitable for critical viewing environments:

Production and Post can now discuss color with accuracy, confidence and reliability. Post production partners can work on common projects knowing that all work is viewed on precisely matched no-maintenance monitoring systems. In addition to this, clients can evaluate in-progress or finished work remotely while assured that the colorist saw exactly what they are seeing.

Camera. Action. Edit. Now, Await Reviews.
Scott Kirsner

The music video for the surreal folk song "I Got a Bunny," written and performed by Juanito Moore, is not something you will see on VH1.

But the video, shot on a rainy sidewalk in front of Mr. Moore's home in Grand Rapids, Mich., has another distinction: it was assembled, not in a traditional cutting room or with PC-based editing software, but entirely on the Web, using an online service called Jumpcut.

The minute-and-a-half video was shot with a digital still camera, which Mr. Moore occasionally swings around by its tripod as he lists the bizarre animals in his imaginary menagerie.

While sites like YouTube and Veoh have lately become popular for allowing users to share their self-produced videos, Jumpcut (www.jumpcut.com) is part of a new class of sites that also offer simple tools for stringing together video clips and then adding soundtracks, titles, transitions and unusual visual effects.

All of the sites, which include Jumpcut, Eyespot, Grouper and VideoEgg, have been introduced within the last year. This summer, they will be joined by another site, Motionbox, based in New York.

Their shared objective, the founders of the sites say, is to reduce the complexity of video editing and to reduce the cost to zero.

"We wanted to make video editing over the Internet faster than desktop editing," said Jim Kaskade, co-founder and chief executive of Eyespot, based in San Diego. "We think it will broaden the base of people who are creative, but may not have thought they were, by creating this tool kit for them. Editing video is eventually going to be as simple as sending e-mail."

Mr. Kaskade refers to the process as "mixing," however, saying he believes that the term "editing" may sound labor-intensive to the amateur videographer. Previously, putting together a multishot video like Mr. Moore's would have involved installing and learning to use a piece of software like iMovie from Apple, Adobe Premiere or Studio from Pinnacle Systems. Some of that software is packaged free with new computers or sold for about $100.

The analyst firm Parks Associates estimated last year that only about four million people regularly use such software for video editing — far fewer than the number who capture video using camcorders, Webcams, digital still cameras and cellphones.

But with more videos of soccer games, weddings and cruise vacations being posted online — and potentially being seen by people who have not been dragooned into the living room for a showing — editing gains in importance, Mr. Kaskade says, even if it involves trimming only the dizzying camera whirls at the beginning of a shot, or the inevitable question, "Are you taping right now?"

People who have experience with both desktop software and the new online editing services say the desktop software offers a wider range of features and enables them to manipulate the video more precisely, but they appreciate the speed and simplicity of online editing.

GK Parish-Philp, a product manager at a San Diego software company, said that while he used Pinnacle Studio to assemble a video of his daughter's birth a year and a half ago, he had not used it in a long time. The birth video "came out really well, but it took forever," he said.

Instead, Mr. Parish-Philp now uses video clips taken with his digital still camera and edited on the Eyespot site (www.eyespot.com) to provide weekly video updates to his mother in Texas. One chronicled his family's recent trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, complete with deft cuts between close-ups and long shots, plenty of pointing at animals, and a soundtrack by the 1980's pop group Toto. (Their hit "Africa," of course.)

Many of the early users of online video editing are new parents like Mr. Parish-Philp, or pet owners, said Kevin Sladek, co-founder of VideoEgg (www.videoegg.com). "We see a tremendous diversity of things," Mr. Sladek said, "but the largest bucket of footage is baby videos."

Other users have been editing videos to support online auctions, as when Todd Hernandez tried to sell a Nissan 350Z coupe on eBay this year, or to stay in touch with friends back home, as when Lisa Boghosian, who moved to San Francisco recently, made a St. Patrick's Day video collage for her Irish friends in Massachusetts.

The number of online editors is still small, however.

"Eighty percent of our users want to watch videos, and about 20 percent want to share videos," said Jonathan Shambroom, a vice president of Grouper. "But only a small fraction of that 20 percent will edit their videos first — maybe a quarter."

All of the sites, except Grouper, require that video clips be uploaded to their servers before they can be manipulated. That can take a long time, and there are limits to the size of the files that can be sent. (For Jumpcut, the limit is 50 megabytes per clip.)

Users of Grouper (www.grouper.com) must first download a free piece of Windows-only software that works in tandem with the Web site. It permits users to trim and rearrange clips on their computer and upload only the finished product, in compressed form.

The sites make possible new kinds of collaborative editing. A group of parents attending a school play can upload all their video, and then edit a single version of the play that makes use of the best shots. Or a vacationer who returns with a shaky shot of the Grand Canyon can incorporate another person's river shot into the video — the home-movie equivalent of stock footage.

"Before, moviemaking was 'one computer, one author,' " said Jumpcut's chief executive, Mike Folgner. "What we've done, on a team level or a group level, is allow people to share these assets. You can make a movie out of anybody's stuff."

Steven Cohen, a Hollywood editor who was in the early 1990's one of the first in his profession to rely on a digital editing system for making a feature film, has tinkered with Jumpcut and Eyespot. While the current services are not as responsive or flexible as the high-end software he is accustomed to using, "online editing seems inevitable," he wrote in an e-mail message. "What makes it appealing is that it gets rid of the problem of storage, and for that reason it seems very freeing. Let somebody else worry about where all this stuff is and how to back it up!"

Many of the earliest users of the online editing services report two changes in the way they capture and assemble video. First, they tend not to use their camcorders as much, because the tendency with a camcorder is to record long, meandering stretches of birthday parties and parades, which are time-consuming to import to a computer and edit. Instead, they record more impressionistic scenes of a few seconds or a few minutes, using a digital still camera or a cellphone.

Second, even if they have experience using more powerful, PC-based editing software, they find themselves using the online services more often when they are working with the shorter snippets — and trying to assemble them quickly for a grandparent in a distant city.

Jan McLaughlin of North Passaic, N.J., makes three or four short movies a week, often using her Nokia cellphone. She spends only about 5 or 10 minutes, on average, refining her video with Eyespot.

"It's the difference between making a gourmet meal that takes days, or throwing something in the microwave," Ms. McLaughlin said. "Ultimately, sometimes you just need to separate the good footage from the bad and stick it together."

China Walks Out Of Meeting To Resolve Bitter Feud Over World Wireless Encryption Standard

An international dispute over a wireless computing standard took a bitter turn this past week with the Chinese delegation walking out of a global meeting to discuss the technology.

The delegation's walkout from Wednesday's opening of a two-day meeting in the Czech Republic escalated an already rancorous struggle by China to gain international acceptance for its homegrown encryption technology known as WAPI. It follows Chinese accusations that a U.S.-based standards body used underhanded tactics to prevent global approval of WAPI.

"In this extremely unfair atmosphere, it is meaningless for the Chinese delegation to continue attending the meeting," the Standardization Administration of China delegation said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The U.S.-based group, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, denies any impropriety and says China isn't playing by the established rules.

At stake is a leg-up in technology research and billions of US dollars (euros) in licensing fees and component sales for laptops, mobile phones, handheld computers and other wireless devices that connect to wireless networks around the world, including hotels, coffee shops and universities.

These gadgets run on networks based on the IEEE's 802.11 standards. The original standards, however, have security holes that allow digital snoops to steal data from those who are logged on to the networks.

Members of the IEEE, an open international professional organisation, and a Chinese government-backed group of engineers with military backgrounds, have developed competing technologies to plug the security holes: for China, WAPI, for the IEEE, 802.11i.

China had earlier tried to compel Intel and other tech companies to adopt its WAPI standard domestically, leading to a showdown with Washington that ended with Beijing backing down last year.

But the push for the Chinese standard persisted and Beijing decided to follow Washington's advice and put the Chinese standard before the International organisation for Standardization, or ISO, a world body made up of representatives from national standardization groups.

In March, delegates representing standard bodies from 25 countries voted in favor of the IEEE's version over WAPI.

China quickly asked the ISO to freeze the process and demanded an apology from the IEEE which it accused of "dirty tricks" in lobbying for its standard, Xinhua said.

The Standardization Administration of China, in a statement, accused backers of the American technology of "a lot of dirty tricks including deception, misinformation, confusion and reckless charging to lobby against WAPI," Xinhua reported.

The Standardization Administration of China declined requests for comment.

At the meeting in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, as the ISO was explaining to China procedures "related to this matter," the Chinese delegation walked out, said ISO spokesman Roger Frost.

Frost on Thursday refused to comment on the walkout.

The IEEE has called on China to return to the talks and offered to work with the country on harmonizing the WAPI technology with international standards.

Steve Mills, the chairman of the IEEE Standards Association Standards Board, said in a statement, China "has lost another valuable opportunity to constructively discuss the technical merits of the two security amendments." Instead, Mills said, China continued "to focus its attention on complaints about the balloting process."

Big Microsoft Brother
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

It turns out that Microsoft's Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program is also keeping daily tabs on Windows users. Who knew?

Well, until a few days ago, nobody outside of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., knew.

According to an Associated Press report, David Lazar, director of the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) program, Microsoft was doing this as "kind of a safety switch."

A safety switch?

Because, Microsoft told 'top Microsoft reporter in the known-world' Mary Jo Foley that "if Notifications went amok on Microsoft's side, Microsoft wanted a way to terminate the program quickly."

Amok? On Microsoft's side?

Help me out. I'm a little confused here. Microsoft wants my Windows PC to phone home everyday so that if Notifications went 'amok' on their servers, it would turn my local Notifications component off?

Now, when you use Windows Genuine Advantage for the first time, it gathers up, Microsoft tell us, and it will grab your PC's XP product key, PC manufacturer, operating system version, PC BIOS information and user locale setting and language.

Nothing at all, Microsoft assures us, that could identify us or what programs we use, or anything like that. No siree. No chance of that.

So ... why do we need that daily Notification ping?

Good question. I guess we really don't need it that much because Microsoft has also clarified that, "As a result of customer concerns around performance, we are changing this feature to only check for a new settings file every 14 days. This change will be made in the next release of WGA. Also, this feature will be disabled when WGA Notifications launches worldwide later this year."

I don't mean to be paranoid, but when someone tells me that, oh, by the way, they've been checking on my XP and Windows 2000 PCs every day since July 2005 when Microsoft made WGA mandatory or you couldn't download patches, I get a little concerned.

Still, it's not like Microsoft would actually collect more information and then use it against such competitors as Firefox would they?

Oh wait, come to think of it, didn't Microsoft once cause Windows to produce fake error messages if a user was running DR-DOS instead of MS-DOS?

While they never admitted to it, they did finally end up paying Caldera Systems, one of the ancestors of today's SCO, approximately $60 million to make the resulting lawsuit go away.

No, nothing like that has happened. I mean maybe they're using WGA to report on what applications people are really using for market information, but that's harmless isn't it? I mean lots of spyware, ah, programs do that, right? Of course.

OK, let me be straight for a minute. There's no proof whatsoever that Microsoft is actually doing anything to anyone else's software or tracking information on their users.

Well, except when you try to update a WGA program that's running on Wine, an open-source implementation of the Windows API (applications program interface) that runs on x86 Linux and Unix OSes like Solaris and FreeBSD. Those users won't be able to get patches. Let's leave that aside for now.

Here's the point. For over a year, Microsoft has planted a program on every modern Windows-powered PC that reported home every day. They don't have an intelligent reason, never mind a good one, for this move. And, they never told anyone that they were doing this.

I guess it must do a darn good job of hiding itself from firewalls and network monitoring tools too since we've only now found out this daily checkup call after tens of millions of PCs have been phoning in for almost a year.

Maybe you can trust your computer, your livelihood, your home finances, your kids' games, everything you do online, to a company that would do that, but you can count me out.

I've been using Linux for my main desktop for years, and it's revelations like this one that makes me damn glad that I do.


How We Learnt To Love Big Brother

The Orwellian future is here, with computers and surveillance cameras tracking our every move. And just like Winston Smith, we've stopped trying to hide, writes Thornton McCamish.

At the bottle shop where I worked years ago there was an underground cellar. Long before I started working there, someone had rigged up an old video camera on the cellar wall. The camera was a wood-duck. It didn't work. It didn't really look like it worked either, since the other end of its dusty cord was pretty clearly jammed into a gap in the crumbly mortar.

But customers couldn't be sure. That was the point. Still, I was always surprised by how many people noticed that camera, perhaps because we thought of it as a joke. They'd come upstairs to the counter and furtively look around to see if they could spot the monitor. A few even asked if the thing worked. I think they wanted us to know that they knew they were being watched, and that they didn't like it.

Who does? Australians weren't exactly elated either when the Hawke Government tried to sell them the Australia Card in the '80s. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the introduction of an identity card. Then, late last year, the Howard Government raised the possibility of trying to get an Australia Card up again. The Sydney Morning Herald predicted that "the controversy about individual rights and freedoms will burn far brighter now than two decades ago".

Australia Card Mark II was formally dropped a few weeks ago. What we got instead was Australia Card lite: a Smartcard that would streamline access to government services.

Controversy didn't burn bright. In fact, the muted public reaction seemed to suggest not protest so much as fatalistic acceptance, a weary acknowledgement of yet another tightening of our rights and freedoms in the age of terrorism.

Not that the debate over privacy and rights in the age of global terrorism is dead. Privacy campaigners are still fighting for the hearts and minds of the public, with very persuasive arguments. The increased powers for police and spooks are a blunt instrument in the fight against terrorism, they say. The British Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has admitted that a national ID card would not have prevented the London bombings. Nor would it prevent immigration stuff-ups here. We also know that while the Smartcard is designed to simplify access to services, its uses could be incrementally expanded.

We know all this but it seems that our hearts just aren't in it. In an ACNeilson poll of August 2005, more than two-thirds of Australians indicated that they were willing to sacrifice privacy and civil liberties for safety from terrorists. On the balance of anxieties, we'll opt for a chance of greater safety over the risk of more state snooping. But perhaps it's not just fear that's making us fatalistic about the erosion of our privacy. Perhaps we're willing to trade it away because privacy's going cheap these days, whether we like it or not.

In a digital world, privacy feels like a lost cause. To go about your business in 2006 is to be constantly reminded of how many footprints we leave in the digital snow. Each time we use a credit card or rent a flat, more information about us is logged and stored. We can be tracked by e-tag on the toll-road or by our mobile phones. Intersecting CCTV coverage has us covered as we stroll through the city and its stores. No point staying at home to avoid the unblinking gaze of the world: as soon as you turn on the computer you're tangled up in the sticky flypaper of the internet. "Privacy is dead", Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy cheerfully informed us back in 1999.

Forget about it. We all know that we're constantly dropping more cookie crumbs as we make our way through daily life. Several times a week CSIs Las Vegas to Miami deliver a bleak finding on the human body's helpless propensity to leave traces on everything it touches. The trail is there for anyone with a warrant. Or the hacking skills.

In the old days, the futuristic future used to keep resetting itself in the distance, like the mirage on a long, straight highway, always intangible ahead. Now it feels like we've caught up with it. Orwell's "Big Brother" from his futuristic novel 1984, used to be as fantastical an imagining as a time machine, and, thankfully, the totalitarian part still is for Australians. But BB's technology platform looks antiquated now that digital information is so easy and cheap to store. Already government agencies and instrumentalities keep considerable amounts of information about us on file. With the exponential growth in computing power over the past few years it would be a doddle to recombine these separate threads of information to produce 3-D portraits in data of individual citizens.

The Americans have already tried it. The Total Information Awareness Program was a government project designed to collate as much data about the population as possible into a mother of all databases which could then be electronically sifted for suspicious patterns. Data-mining, it's called.

Public protest shut the program down in 2003, not before it had shown itself to be quite useless for winkling out terrorists. But data has a habit of sticking around. As long as it exists, it is vulnerable to hacking or misuse. As Australians have learnt, it's also prone to being left in airline club lounges and randomly mailed to members of the public.

Data-mining or surveillance only produces a picture of an individual if someone, somewhere, wants one. But that's the trouble with an ambient mood of surveillance: there's a tendency to assume that somewhere, someone may well want one.

Sometimes they do. Glance sideways from the moral straight and narrow and see the traps set all around. Every day hapless root-rats are sprung by DNA testing, pill-popping athletes are busted by random drug tests and cheats are indicted by their own mobile-phone records. If you're a celebrity, increasingly ingenious and elaborate snares await. Shane Warne could write a book about it. And probably will.

The self-righteous view on this is that you're only against tightened government record-keeping if you've got something to hide. As an argument it's not much chop, since it merely confuses privacy with criminal secrecy. But it's gaining ground in a time when the whole atmosphere surrounding our social privacy seems to be changing.

We're just not as private as we used to be. Traditionally, Australians are seen as fairly reserved. Dry. Laconic. Undemonstrative.

WHEN Jerry Springer appeared on Australian televisions, featuring folk whose discretion genes seemed to have been surgically removed, here was proof of our fundamental difference to Americans. Or at least to those on Jerry Springer. In the Australian mythos, there was an idea of behaviour that linked privacy and dignity.

But somewhere along the line the rest of the Western world caught up with Australian self-containment and we went all California. I blame Oprah, myself; Oprah, that milkmaid of confessional nectar who never tires of squeezing intimacies out of her victim-guests. The confessional had long provided this consolation for the devout; in the age of the public talking cure, Oprah's couch does the job instead. So does the AA meeting, or the true confessions page of Woman's Day. The idea that revealing your soul is good for you is not even questioned now. The days when your sins and suffering were between you and your god, or whatever passes for it, are over. And since confession comes with automatic redemption - Rex Hunt seemed to think that admitting to his moral atrocity and being forgiven for it were simultaneous processes - what's holding you back? Go on, get it off your chest. If the thought of spilling your guts to the world makes you blanch, then there are pills you can take for your problem.

And perhaps you should. Because isn't there something a bit shifty about people who keep too much to themselves? Ah, we say, when the neighbour fronts the TV news cameras to tell us that the bomber/murderer/pedophile next door had always been a pretty quiet sort of bloke, now you mention it, yes - kept to himself. Yes, we nod. Of course he was.

You might think that living as we do in a constant state of traceability would make us more protective of the privacy we still have. Apparently not. The digital era has only encouraged plenty of us to expose ourselves more. For some, the number of hits Google finds for their name is a vital statistic, an index of status. At least it's proof that the world knows they're there.

Perhaps privacy feels too much like anonymity today. It's as if we need to assert our individuality in a world of barcodes. We are not merely our statistical fragment, our biometric bits; that's not our full story. So we rig up web cams, and blog fragments of ourselves on to the walls of the World Wide Web, even if the gallery's empty and no one's looking.

Privacy is a right that plenty of Australians can't forfeit fast enough in the rush to tell their stories. The self-exposure phenomenon is not limited to Big Brother or Idol, or late-night talk-back radio. Enough Rope and Australian Story have made an art form out of getting people, famous and not, unbuttoning their joys and sorrows.

We expect to know more about others, too. Australians have never been so interested in real-life stories. In the bookshops, it's the age of the memoir, and the more relentlessly explicit the better. There's a vast and hungry audience for the excruciatingly personal peelings, for books like Mary Moody's Last Tango in Toulouse or Edward White's memoir My Lives.

There's nothing wrong with telling one another our stories and feelings, of course. What better way to understand this human clay we share? Besides, we're all managing the cost-benefit analysis of privacy all the time: whenever we buy online with a credit card because it's faster than sending a money order, signing petitions, or giving our details to estate agents so we can have a sticky-beak around a house. Indeed, franker public talk has helped expose horrors such as sex abuse and domestic violence by making them speakable.

But in the age of the tell-all memoir, we're less squeamish about other people's privacy, too. Encryption software might be evidence of a longing for privacy, but there's a lively market in recreational spying equipment these days - items such as the Pen Holder Hidden Camera system (watch your office or living room, your nanny or workman, RRP $299) or Australian OK! (RRP $5.95). Paparazzi ply a revolting trade, but who can resist the stars-without-their-make-up pictures they get?

Being less squeamish, we tend to be less discerning, too. Under new uniform defamation laws, media outlets no longer have to demonstrate that a story is of public interest, just that it's substantially true. Open season for the gossip rags, then. Already when we open our eyes in the rough vicinity of a television or the magazine rack at the supermarket were consuming privacy, the traducing of other people's privacy.

Or their negotiated sale of it. Now that we've got a taste for other people's business, privacy has become the basis of a grey moral economy. In her exclusive interview with miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell, Tracy Grimshaw was determined to get full bang for Channel Nine's buck on our behalf, right down to reading out personal letters written by the miners to their wives and children. Celebs can leverage their privacy, rushing from photo shoot, where they sell it, to court, where they cash in on unauthorised incursions into it. Or pay through the nose like Rex Hunt in the hope of preserving some part of it.

There's even good money to be made on privacy speculation now. Pseudonymously authored sexcapade novels such as The Bride Stripped Bare and Landscape With Animals tend to sell well, partly because we want to know whose orgasm it is we're reading about. And at the bottom end of the privacy market, there's the samizdat of bootleg celebrity sex tapes passing from hand to sweaty hand: proof that what interests the public is not the same as what's in the public interest. Inevitably, our interest in other people's private business seems to take up more and more space in the public realm, leaving less room for issues of genuine public concern.

Privacy has become a debased coin. It's not that it's worthless, just that we're not sure how to value those aspects of privacy that can't be traded. Which is a pity, because a bit of mystery does wonders for civilised social relations.

Copy Wrongs and Rights

We will soon be able to copy music legally, but it will be for our ears only, writes Louisa Hearn.

Australians soon will have the right to tape TV programs and copy a track from a CD onto their MP3 players under copyright laws being proposed by the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock (http://www.ag.gov.au).

Many of us thought we already had the right to do this, but the practice of making a recording of someone else's song, movie or virtually any other form of commercial media is illegal in Australia - and will remain so until the new laws are introduced later this year.

Consumer advocates and copyright experts have long labelled the existing copyright laws as out of touch with reality. The proposed changes will be widely welcomed, but many believe the law will still be too restrictive.

United States copyright law has a "fair use" provision, which assumes a certain level of flexibility in copying media content on the basis that it is for personal consumption only. Our Attorney-General will grant far tighter laws.

Perhaps as a concession to media owners who fear large-scale piracy of their digital content, consumers will face restrictions on how they may transfer and use copied content - such as a seemingly unenforceable requirement that they may watch a recorded television program once only, then delete it.

When it comes to music, copies can be made only onto different formats for personal use, meaning that it will become legal to record a song from a CD onto an MP3 device, but burning back-up copies of CDs onto other CDs will continue to be illegal.

The concessions also may prove an ultimately hollow victory for the many consumers unaware that media companies are already racing to implement digital rights management (DRM) software across a huge range of devices from music players to DVD recorders.

Apple and Microsoft already embed DRM technology into digital music products and a new process called Advanced Access Content System (AACS) was recently created to restrict copying in new high-definition DVD technologies such as Blu-Ray.

The Attorney-General plans to address the matter of technological copyright restriction in future reforms, but many fear that the interests of media owners seeking to stamp out piracy will prevail against those of consumers.

This will mean that anyone circumventing technological copy controls is breaking the law, even if operating within the restrictions set out in the copyright law amendments.

David Vaile, executive director of the Baker & McKenzie cyberspace law and policy centre at the University of NSW, says: "Media owners will use a variety of methods to limit rights of users with technology and contracts. No one is trying to justify mass-scale piracy but the end users get caught in the middle."

However, music industry commentator Phil Tripp sees consumers' transition into the digital world differently. "Music for [a long time] was a collectable commodity in a hard carrier," he says. "It was a product but it then became a service through digital downloading. This is like shipping wine without bottles. The next step is it becomes a utility where you pay for as much music as you want as long as you don't share it."

Some have hailed Apple's iTunes music service as a distribution model for other media now contemplating the shift to online content delivery methods. But not everyone is convinced consumers will welcome such a total transformation.

Kim Weatherall, associate director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia, says consumers will still want to buy media in retail stores.

"I'm somewhat sceptical. It doesn't really reflect the way people are. They like to collect and people buy CDs even when they can download off iTunes. That urge won't go away all that soon."

For more information about the proposed laws, visit the Attorney-General's website via http://tinyurl.com/gclx9/.

Singer Kevin Aviance Beaten In NYC

A singer whose songs have topped the Billboard dance chart was attacked by a group yelling anti-gay slurs, and four people were arrested on hate-crime charges, police and his publicist said.

Kevin Aviance, 38, underwent surgery for a broken jaw after the attack Saturday, said his publicist, Len Evans. Police said the singer, whose song "Alive" hit the top of the chart in 2002, was in stable condition.

A group of six or seven men attacked Aviance early Saturday, and passers-by did not stop to help as they threw objects at him, Evans said.

Four people were arrested on charges of first-degree assault as a hate crime, police said. They were identified as Jarell Sears and Akino George, both 20; Gregory Archie, 18; and Gerard Johnson, 16.

Aviance performs in drag but was "dressed like a boy" when he was attacked, Evans said. He had planned to take part in next week's Gay Pride parade and festivities, but will now be unable to perform, the publicist said.

Other popular songs by the singer have included "Give It Up," released in 2004, and "Din Da Da," which topped the Billboard dance chart in 1997.

Secret Techie Fight Clubs Pop Up

Does the latest enterprise management software make you want to hit something? Or someone?

A group of Silicon Valley techies has found a new way to deal with the frustrations of modern technology.

They may have love handles and Ivy League degrees, but every two weeks they make like Brad Pitt and turn into vicious street brawlers in a real-life, underground fight club.

Kicking, punching and swinging every household object imaginable - from frying pans and tennis racquets to pillowcases stuffed with soft-drink cans - they beat each other mercilessly in a garage south of San Francisco.

Then, bloodied and bruised, they limp back to their desks in the morning.

Inspired by the 1999 film Fight Club, starring Pitt and Ed Norton, underground bare-knuckle brawling clubs have sprung up across the country as a way for desk jockeys to vent their frustrations and prove themselves.

Gints Klimanis, a 37-year-old software engineer and martial arts instructor, started the invitation-only Gentlemen's Fight Club in 2000 after his no-holds-barred sessions with a training partner grew to more than a dozen people. Most participants are men working in high-tech industries.

"You get to be a superhero for a night," Mr Klimanis says. "We have to go to work every day. We're constantly told to buy things we don't need, and just for a couple hours we have the freedom to do what we want to do." Shiyin Siou, a Santa Clara software engineer and three-year veteran of the clandestine fights, says it's a very "un-macho thing" to be beaten down. "But I don't need this to prove I'm macho," the softly-spoken 34-year-old says. "I'm macho enough as it is. This is as close as you can get to a real fight, even though I've never been in one."

Despite his reserved demeanour, he daydreams about inflicting pain on an attacker. "I have fantasies about it," he says.

Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York, says a sadomasochistic thread runs through these clubs.

"All day long these guys think they're the captains of the universe, technical wizards," he says. "They're brilliant but empty. They want to feel differently. They want to get hit, they want to feel something real."

The only protective equipment used is fencing and hockey masks. Several fighters have suffered broken noses, ribs and fingers.

Five-year fight club veteran Dinesh Prasad, 32, a Santa Clara engineer, says he recently skipped his first wedding anniversary to attend a fight rather than drive to Los Angeles, where his wife is finishing law school.

"I came here to get over my fear of fighting, and it's working," he says.

Dave Winer video interviews tech pundit John Dvorak

How-to Piss Off Mac Users
Transcribed by Jack

(Winer): Tell us how it works John.

(Dvorak): Ok, there's a formula for pissing off Macintosh users and getting a lot of links or attention. And this has been deconstructed, but never accurately. I'm going to give you the deconstruction.

First, I’ll write something that would be semi-innocuous, with just enough insulting stuff to get a lot of attention from the Macintosh community. So then they would write in - and by the way, it would always be done in such a way that I had outs - in other words, I would write stuff in kind of a weasely way. That would get me one column with a lot of numbers.

Then I'd get a lot of hate mail, and all kinds of weird Macintosh reaction. And then, I would react to it as though I was flabbergasted that everybody misinterpreted me, and that they hated it, and "I don't get it," and "What's wrong with these people?" Which would piss them off even more.

So I'd get like huge hits…

(Winer): So what was the point of all this?

(Dvorak): Now wait a minute…for numbers!

(Winer): Which numbers - exactly, what numbers are you looking for?

(Dvorak): I get them. Believe me. Lots of numbers.

Now, then I let it simmer down for a while, and then whatever position I took originally, I would change the position exactly the opposite and tell the Macintosh people I was completely wrong and they were right all along, and the numbers would go through the ceiling!! (Laughs)

(Winer): Ok.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/scripting/dvorak.mov?torrent]BitTorrent Link[/url]

The Sound That Repels Troublemakers

A device emitting a soundwave which is designed to drive young troublemakers away from a problem area of Swindon has been hailed as a success. Listen to the sound online.

The 'Mosquito' sonic deterrent device was installed by the Wyvern Theatre in an attempt to stop groups of up to 100 youngsters from gathering around Theatre Square.
Click below to listen to a feature about the 'Mosquito' device from BBC Radio Swindon's Breakfast Show with Peter Heaton-Jones broadcast on 14/06/06.
BBC Radio Swindon feature >

It was named the 'Mosquito' because the sound resembles that of a buzzing insect. And it works by emitting a harmless ultra sonic tone that generally can only be heard by people aged 25 and under. In trials, it has proven that the longer someone is exposed to the sound, the more annoying it becomes.

Crime Reduction Officer Bob Walton elaborated further: "Effectively, it's a transmitter which sends out a specialised frequency noise which according to the manufacture is particularly audible to young people under the age of 25.

He said: "I'm in my fifties and when it's turned on all I can hear is a very faint buzz. But I understand from young people who have been exposed to the noise, it is very annoying."

Swindon's anti-social behaviour co-ordinator Cheri Wright says it is working well.

She said: "We had a meeting with local retailers arounds here - after it had been installed for around three weeks - and feedback was really positive.

"Everyone was saying there has been a marked reduction in criminal damage and problems with the shops, so they've really welcomed it."
Click the link below to listen to an MP3 of the 'Mosquito' sonic deterrent soundwave to see if you are susceptible or not.

Behind the Haze of Allegory, the Hard Glint of Technology
Nate Chinen

Half a dozen songs into Radiohead’s show on Tuesday night in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Thom Yorke rolled out a new lyric rooted in allegorical imagery. “When I’m at the pearly gates,” he sang, “this’ll be on my videotape.” Then, in his next breath: “When Mephistopheles is just beneath / And he's reaching up to grab me.”

The language was evasive, cryptic and archly literary, and the tone was ambiguous and anxious. In other words, it was a characteristic effort by Mr. Yorke. But within that haze there was the hard glint of something: a notion that even heaven could be mediated by technology, and well within the grasp of peril.

That’s not what you’d call a standard crowd-pleasing sentiment. But dystopian unease is to Radiohead what tumbling surf is to Dick Dale, and there were as many cheers for “Videotape” as there were for six other brand-new songs.

Judging by the applause, it’s safe to say that much of the audience was already familiar with this still-unreleased material from the currently unsigned band. Tracks have been surfacing on the web – thanks to technology a bit more advanced than videotape – since Radiohead began its current tour in Europe last month.

There was another, more important reason for the crowd response: “Videotape" was a gripping piece of music. It began austerely – Mr. Yorke’s quavering voice, a few major chords on the piano, a backwards-processed guitar – and gradually assumed the dimensions of a rock song. Its crescendo had a sense of lift and motion; surrendering to it felt like being pulled downstream.

Radiohead’s last album, 2003’s “Hail to the Thief,” was widely understood as a reconciliation of the band’s warring instincts. Ostensibly it was a return to guitar-driven rock after a pair of keyboard-heavy releases – “Kid A” and “Amnesiac” – that bent toward the ambient and abstract. But Tuesday’s concert supported the band’s conviction that it could be omnivorous, letting each side bleed into the other.

The new songs themselves were vivid proof. “Bangers and Mash” had a noisily aggressive thrust, the combined result of Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien’s interlocking guitars, Colin Greenwood’s bass and an unrelenting drum part doubled by Phil Selway and, on a spare trap set, Mr. Yorke. As a rock tune, “Bodysnatchers” was even better, especially as it roared into the chorus. (It was also amusing to hear Mr. Yorke keening the line “I have no idea what I am talking about.”)

Sound has supplanted technique for the musicians in the band; or to be more precise, the manipulation of sound has effectively become a technique in itself. On more than one tune, Mr. Greenwood and Mr. O’Brien laid aside their guitars to squat at analog consoles, precisely shaping noise. In similar fashion, Mr. Selway blended his drumming with various electronic beats, erasing the distinctions between them.

But it was Mr. Yorke’s voice that inevitably carried the music, and one striking thing about the concert was how often he let it loose without guttural strangulation. That’s one reason why “Nude,” a new ballad, was gorgeous; during one soaring falsetto note, the band faded out, and the effect was angelic.

Of course the intent was exactly the opposite. Mr. Yorke’s last words in the song were, “You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking.” Once again he was suspended between extremes. And he seemed to revel in it, along with everyone else.

Media Frenzy

Coming Soon (Maybe): Even More TV Channels
Richard Siklos

LET'S take a poll, couch potatoes. Raise your hand if you are excited about the possibilities of television multicasting.

We jest, of course. Chances are that only people who work as lobbyists or media executives have a vague notion what multicasting means, though it has been kicking around for years.

But the word is likely to gain a much higher profile in coming weeks — not just because a regulatory showdown is looming but also because of a wave of new television channels and ventures that are suddenly being hatched.

Indeed, as America careers toward its much-touted conversion to the all-digital transmission of television signals — the digital switchover is now set in stone for February 2009 — the debate over multicasting is looking like another shining example of the law of unintended consequences when technology comes into play.

Multicasting, by the way, is the entertainment industry term for broadcasting several television channels in the space, or bandwidth, of a current analog broadcast signal.

There are technical issues related to this, but the upshot is that with new digital frequencies and equipment, a local station can now beam roughly four digital channels on its signal where a single analog channel once existed. Or it can broadcast the current signal and sublet the extra spectrum, or space, for other purposes, like Internet access, infomercials or pay-TV services.

Now, the first question one might rightly ask is this: Who cares about multicasting when there are already hundreds of cable channels available in millions of households, and a bewildering array of new download services and Webby ways of getting video material? Where television programming is concerned, there is no reason to believe that more is more.

But there is a compelling argument to be made that multicasting is a public good because it uses a national resource — the airwaves — to deliver more and better free television into people's homes. While only 15 percent of America's households currently receive their television over the airwaves, rather than through cable or satellite, some cool new channels may help to quell a potential uproar over the fact that old analog televisions will not work with new digital signals. Bruce Leichtman of the Leichtman Research Group in Durham, N.H., estimates that when the digital switch is thrown in 2009, there will be about 75 million analog TV's nationwide that get their signals only from rabbit ears. Their owners will need to buy $50 converter boxes to tune in after that.

Unfortunately for broadcasters — and, arguably, for viewers — that 15 percent of households is not a big-enough market to make these new niche channels economically viable. For the model to work, broadcasters also need to make the new channels available to people with cable and satellite services — and they want the channels to be distributed free, in the way federal law currently obligates cable companies to carry their primary local channels.

The law is known as the must-carry rule, and several groups, led by the National Association of Broadcasters, are lobbying for what they call the digital must-carry rule: that all their broadcast signals, including whatever new digital multicast channels they cook up, should be included, free, on the basic cable lineup.

There are several arguments for this. One of the most sensible is that local broadcasters have had to invest small fortunes in equipment to convert to digital broadcasting at Washington's behest, and that this is a way for them to recoup their costs.

The broadcasters have a powerful ally for this cause in the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin J. Martin. The F.C.C. has rejected digital must-carry twice already — the last time in 2005, when Mr. Martin, before he was chairman, was the sole vote in favor — but the composition of the commission has changed and the subject is expected to come up for a vote again in the next few weeks.

Some cable companies are already carrying the big television networks' new channels — NBC Weather Plus, for instance, is carried by Time Warner Cable in Manhattan. But that is because cable companies have broad relationships with the big broadcast networks, which supply much of the programming that causes people to buy cable service in the first place. Digital must-carry is crucial for independent station groups, which do not have that leverage.

The cable industry, to no one's surprise, regards this as rubbish and views digital must-carry as an unconstitutional way to force them to put free channels on their private networks. Kyle E. McSlarrow, president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, has said that his members spent $100 billion upgrading their systems over the past decade and would be forced to carry channels "that may have no appeal at all." That would be unfair not only to operators like Comcast, the argument goes, but also to all the CNN's and ESPN's that have to compete on their merits for places on the cable dial.

Besides, some broadcasters are talking about multicasting eventually growing into a free, over-the-air alternative to bare-bones cable service.

Even as that regulatory showdown shapes up, some viewers are already seeing glimpses of what multicasting promises to bring into America's households: CBS is planning an entertainment-based channel that provides the rough equivalent of extra features on DVD's for some of its top network shows; NBC is already offering local weather channels around the country and, in New York, a spin-off of its Channel 4 flagship called WNBC 4.4.

Broadcasters like multicast channels because they help them to aim at smaller and smaller slices of the overall audience, which is rapidly being fragmented by the Internet and other new technologies. "It's a great advantage for us because it gives us a number of alternative platforms to give more local programming to our viewers," said Jay Ireland, the president of NBC Universal Television Stations.

But in addition to local and network spinoffs, multicasting is giving rise to wholly new national channels. One start-up broadcaster, for example, is offering a channel called the Tube, promoted as a free competitor to MTV; another company, Ion Media Networks, has announced plans with partners to start national channels with health and children's programming as themes.

Ion was previously known as Paxson Communications, a group of 60 TV stations. Ion's new chief executive, R. Brandon Burgess, said he believed that multicasting was the ticket to making free TV a viable alternative to cable for the first time in decades. That is no small matter as he tries to rescue the company from the brink of financial collapse. Mr. Burgess, a former NBC Universal executive (NBC has a big stake in Ion), said that a package of free national channels could be assembled alongside all the new local digital signals.

A typical viewer would then have a package of 30 or more free channels that could represent a far better alternative to cable than what is now available over the air. A similar service in England, called Freeview, has attracted seven million households; it delivers free channels via a set-top box that viewers buy.

Beyond the free services, companies like USDTV and Moviebeam are already leasing spare spectrum from local broadcasters to offer pay-TV and pay-movie services to people who buy special set-top receivers.

DESPITE all this activity, it is far more likely that you would raise your hand about high-definition TV than about the equally game-changing notion of multicasting. And, indeed, even if cable companies are forced to carry the new channels by the F.C.C., legal challenges could delay their widespread availability.

"The industry has done a pretty good job of marketing HDTV but not as good a job of even hinting to the public that they could get lots more channels for free," Martin D. Franks, executive vice president of CBS, said. The uncertainty over whether these new channels will ever see the light of day, he added, "does not help."

House of Representatives Passes COPE Act
Bary Alyssa Johnson

The House of Representatives voted late Thursday night to pass the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act, which has been making rounds on the House floor since earlier this year.

The COPE Act, which was originally introduced by Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill) earlier this year, seeks to increase competition in the broadband marketplace. It passed through the House with a 321-to-101 vote, with 215 Republicans and 106 Democrats voting in favor of it.

"[This bill] seeks to strike the right balance between ensuring that the public Internet remains an open, vibrant marketplace, and ensuring that Congress does not hand the FCC a blank check to regulate Internet services," Barton said.

The legislation was designed to enable a number of things, which include creating a "streamlined" national approval process that enables telecommunications companies to offer subscription TV services, and allowing cities to build their own broadband infrastructures and implement strong anti-child-pornography and anti-discrimination protections.

However, a number of other big political names as well as several consumer-advocate groups argue that the legislation fails to properly address the controversial issue of net neutrality.

"The Internet had always been a neutral network, which is the central reason for its overwhelming success," said Benn Scott, policy director for Free Press, in a statement. "This issue is not about whether or not the government will regulate the Internet. It's about whether consumers or cable and phone companies will decide what services and content are available on the net."

A popular net-neutrality provision—The Markey-Boucher-Eshoo-Inslee Amendment—was struck from the legislation after being voted down during Thursday's debate. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) issued a statement Friday regarding the defeat of his amendment.

"We are making progress, and although we did not prevail tonight, we intend to prevail in the end," Markey said. "The Internet community is now aroused, and as the telephone and cable companies continue to use their political clout to turn the Internet from a democratic Field of Dreams to an exclusive set of Gated Communities…I will continue to fight for an open and non-discriminatory Internet because the future of our country depends on it. Literally."

However, there are still plenty of players in the IT industry, as well as on Capitol Hill, who argue that concerns over the issue are speculative and not based on the reality of today's marketplace.

"The United States doesn't even rank in the top 10 of the nations of the world in broadband deployment," Barton said in a statement. "This bill should change that."

In addition, although the Markey Amendment was struck down from the COPE Act, the legislation includes other net-neutrality provisions.

"I wouldn't agree that there's no net-neutrality provisions," said a spokesperson for Rep. Barton. "There were two amendments related to net neutrality, one was approved and one was rejected. An amendment by Congressman Smith of Texas was approved."

In the middle of everything from the middle of nowhere

EchoStar, DirecTV to Resell Broadband

Targeting rural homes, satellite-TV providers EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. will resell broadband Internet access via satellite from WildBlue Communications Inc., WildBlue said Friday.

The agreement is a big deal for WildBlue, a privately held company based in Greenwood Village, Colo. It has about 60,000 customers in the United States. EchoStar and DirecTV have 27 million customers combined, many of them in rural areas with access to few, if any, choices for broadband Internet.

In addition to this newest distribution agreement, WildBlue inked a pact with AT&T Inc. last month.

As part of the latest agreement, EchoStar and DirecTV agreed not to team up with any other satellite-broadband provider for the next five years. Other satellite services include HughesNet, which was formerly a part of DirecTV, as well as Starband and Ground Control.

The value of the transactions was not disclosed.

The recent flurry of deals shows just how far satellite broadband has come since its early days. In its earlier versions, satellite broadband was far too expensive to be practical since equipment and subscription costs came to hundreds of dollars a month. Prices have since come down, making the product appealing to a broader range of customers. However, prices are higher than cable or DSL service and speeds are lower.

WildBlue charges between $50 and $80 a month for speeds up to 1.5 megabits per second. The satellite dish and other initial equipment costs $300. WildBlue spokeswoman LaRae Marsik said it will be up to EchoStar, DirecTV and AT&T to determine how to price their customer packages since WildBlue will be serving as a wholesale provider. The companies expect to offer service this fall.

For satellite-TV providers, the service is another way to offer a full line of products. Since undergoing a $100 billion makeover in the 1990s, cable companies have flaunted their ability to offer TV, Internet and phone service. Satellite TV, by contrast, has been more limited in its ability to expand beyond TV service.

Wildblue uses a satellite operated by BCE Inc., Canada's largest phone company. BCE is also a major owner of WildBlue. Other investors include Intelsat Ltd., the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Liberty Media Holding Corp.

Whatcha Up To?

AT&T to Roll Out Internet TV
Star report

AT&T will announce a long expected investment in its fiber optic network and the roll out of an Internet-based TV service, according to AT&T officials.

The announcement will come Wednesday at the Indiana State Museum where state and local officials will watch a demonstration of the IPTV service at the IMAX theater.

The company plans to launch the service in the fall and will use it to compete with digital cable offerings. The new service will be branded AT&T U-Verse.

Billy Bragg Prompts Myspace Rethink

All your content belongs to Rupert?
Andrew Orlowski

Myspace says it's revising its legal terms and conditions after songwriter Billy Bragg withdrew his songs from the website in protest.

Myspace is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International, a bete noir for Bragg for more than 20 years. On 18 May, Bragg's management withdrew the song files, citing the T&Cs.

Bragg said the terms allowed News International to reuse his content without remunerating the artist.

"The real problem is the fact that they can sub-license it to any company they want and keep the royalities themselves without paying the artist a penny. It also doesn't stipulate that they can use it for non-commercial use only which is what I'd want to see in that clause. The clause is basically far to open for abuse and thus I'm very wary."

It's the return of the old favorite, the ambiguous ownership contract. Myspace is actually using a boilerplate text designed to allow it to republish the content. Five years ago Microsoft was forced to change a similar, but even more acquisitive click through contract. Microsoft's Passport sign-on permitted the company to:
Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication.

The terms included the right to grab trademarks and business plans. Microsoft retreated after a storm of protest.

But Redmond wasn't the first to attempt this, nor has it been the last. Apple had introduced a similar click through before retreating, and two years ago Google attached almost identical terms to its Orkut service. That was in 2004, the bloggers' love affair with the ad giant was still untarnished, and very little protest was heard.

In response to Bragg, Myspace says the T&Cs are confusing and affirmed that it had no claim on artists' materials.

"Because the legalese has caused some confusion, we are at work revising it to make it very clear that MySpace is not seeking a license to do anything with an artist's work other than allow it to be shared in the manner the artist intends," Jeff Berman told the New York Daily News. "Obviously, we don't own their music or do anything with it that they don't want."

All clear? Not quite.

In the much hyped "Web 2.0" world of "user generated content", punters are expected to contribute their works for commercial exploitation for nothing. While MySpace is pretty unambiguous about copyright, exploitation isn't so much a distant temptation, but an integral part of its business.

You can find the T&Cs here.

Computer Energy Use Under Scrutiny
Bob McDowall

Well-honed phrases about cheaper and greater computing power have all but faded from the marketing, sales, and other promotional material of IT vendors and consultants to the sector.

Rising energy costs over the past year, as well as concerns about the scale of availability of energy in the short-term, especially over the winter period, and more strategically over the longer term, are encouraging enterprises to review their energy requirements for computing purposes. This historically somewhat dull subject is assuming an unheard of level of interest and importance.

Computer technology installations both large and small comprise many parts. Power consumption fluctuates so much depending on use that it is extremely difficult to calculate. As a very rough rule of thumb, the quieter a computer is, the lower the power consumption. This is because it is creating less heat, and therefore needs fewer fans to cool it. The main areas of consumption are power supply, high performance graphics cards, and processors. Screensavers do not save energy. Switching-off local printers and determining if computers have energy saving facilities help. Most operating systems will automatically switch the monitor into standby mode if left unused for a specified period of time, specifying the shortest time delay possible - five minutes is ideal.

Mid range desk computers uses between 200W and 300W depending on how hard they are working, but the high-end range can use over 400W, excluding monitors, speakers, printer, network, and other extraneous equipment. Moreover, most computers are excessively powerful for everyday use - something of a status symbol for many people? "Normal" office use of a computer with all the standard office applications, web browser and internet radio open only uses around five per cent of the processor.

Short-term efforts are focused on energy saving with computer installations. At a simple housekeeping level, for example, switching off computers overnight and at weekends, results in energy and cost savings of 70 per cent to 80 per cent. Equally, switching off your monitor when at lunch, or during periods of absence, can halve the energy consumption. Newer computers will also allow the hard-drive to "spin-down" if left idle. Some printers also have similar facilities. However, these procedures are, at best, only housekeeping measures; reminders of energy costs but doing little to combat the growing demand for computing power

Unfortunately, the demand for computing power is growing, encouraged by increasing commercial and recreational use of computer technology and the proliferation of devices using computer technology. How can computing power be contained rather than rationed for the growing demand? Some form of rationing or allocation solution will be the knee-jerk solution, unless an alternative solution is found.

One solution may be found in the analogy of the WEEE Directive, where the supplier has a legal responsibility for safe disposal: the supplier would be responsible for supplying a new and exclusive energy source for new and extended computer equipment, but not replacement equipment after a specified cut-off date.

This would encourage more and extensive research and development into efficient and cost effective sources of power by the hardware vendor community - be it generator, solar, battery or even wind-up power.

• Applying the inventive intellect and innovative skills of the IT hardware developers to energy sources would be a powerful message to other industries to apply the same logic.
• The IT hardware sector would provide a very powerful boost to investment in new, alternative and cost-effective energy sources, enabling it to influence creation and development of energy sources for commercial and social benefit.
• The sector would be able to shake itself free from some elements of the commoditisation model into which it has evolved through maturity.
• The sector's "social responsibility" rating would rise benefiting its governance profile and some investor ratings.
• The sector would head-off potentially longer-term draconian energy restriction measures, which could restrict growth in the industry on a more permanent basis.

A more integrated approach to computing and its energy power and sources is essential if the industry to promote cheaper computing power transparently.

Portugal Builds World's Biggest Solar Plant

11-megawatt sun trap
Lester Haines

Portugal has started work on what will be the world's biggest solar power plant - a 52,000 photovoltaic module, 11-megawatt facility covering a 60-hectare south-facing hillside in the southern Alentejo region.

According to the BBC, the cost of the monster 'leccy factory is €58m - or £40m in old money - for which the Portuguese will get enough juice for 8,000 homes.

The project is funded by General Electric Energy Financial Services who've provided the cash for indigenous renewable energy power company Catavento's eco-friendly initiative.

Catavento's Piero Dal Maso declared: "The Serpa solar power project, along with other renewable energy initiatives, helps lay the foundation for Portugal's energy future. The project takes maximum advantage of the excellent environmental conditions in Portugal for solar power."

However, and as many of you might have spotted, supplying green juice to just 8,000 homes will hardly allow Portugal to tell OPEC to take a running jump. Dal Maso admitted: "It is a drop, but we think in Portugal that it will make sense to use renewables to get away from oil issues and the dependency on energy from outside which we have in Portugal."

The plant will, once completed, have another green string to its bow: the solar panels will be mounted two metres off the ground, allowing sheep to graze the grass below in delicious shade.

Verizon Bets Big On Fiber Optic Overhaul
Peter Svensson

Lisa Donohue squats on the floor with her 2-year-old son Calum in front of their high-definition TV, watching a children's cartoon. "What kind of animal is Franklin?" she asks him. Calum is a little under the weather, and his eyes droop a bit, but they stay fixed on the turtle on the screen.

Calum probably doesn't know, but the image of Franklin's bright green skin is brought to him not by cable, satellite, or broadcast, but by pulses of light that go straight to his home here on suburban Long Island from a telephone-company building miles away, via optical fiber.

Optical fiber — strands of glass 15 times thinner than a human hair — have been used by telecommunications companies over long-haul routes since the 1980s.

Now, Verizon Communications Inc., is making a big and expensive bet on replacing the network of copper wires that has provided phone service since the 19th century with fiber, giving it the capability to carry TV and super-fast Internet service in the bargain.

Investors have been skeptical of the plans, sending Verizon's stock down by about 20 percent since the rollout started last year, and other phone companies have not made the same gamble. Donohue, however, is happy with the service Verizon calls FiOS.

"With cable, the picture would stop. Or we'd have those digital things going," she says, gesturing to mimic the picture breaking up.

"We could get satellite, but our only tree in the garden is in the southwest corner, so we'd have to chop our only tree down" to get a clear line of sight to the satellite, she says.

The family pays about $220 a month for TV, phone, high-speed Internet service and two cell phones, which she says is cheaper than what they were paying before, when they had cable.

"It comes as one bill, which is nice because I don't have to remember to pay four times," Donohue says.

Factors like that have made Verizon's FiOS TV a success in the few areas where it's available, judging by Verizon's data. It has said that 6.5 percent of households in Massapequa Park signed up for TV in the first three months after its launch on Jan. 24. That figure is disputed by Cablevision Systems Corp., the incumbent cable company, which said it had a net loss of less than 2 percent in the area.

Verizon has permission to sell TV service in about 80 communities in New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia. It has fiber available for phone and Internet service in many more — 3 million homes. Verizon doesn't say how many homes are connected, but analysis of a tally by research firm RVA LLC indicates that Verizon had about 400,000 homes connected as of April.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime project," said Paul Lacouture, Verizon's vice president of engineering and technology.

Chief among fiber's advantages is its almost unlimited capacity to carry information, which Verizon only nibbles at with its current system: It lights fiber to the home with just three laser beams, though the fiber can carry many more.

The single beam that carries video (the others carry data and telephone calls to and from the home) has more capacity than an entire coaxial cable of the kind used by cable companies.

In practical terms, that means better image quality, because the digital TV channels don't need to be degraded to save bandwidth.

"If you're watching a program, you see the faces elongate, smear out" on digital cable, says Alex Fazi, who as owner of a videography studio in nearby Wantagh has a keen eye for video quality. He said he'll sign up for fiber TV as soon as it's available in his area.

In a similar way, fiber provides almost limitless Internet connection speeds. With current technology, Verizon could provide download speeds of 644 megabits per second, a bigger step up from DSL at 1.5 mbps than DSL is a step up from dial-up.

But for now, the maximum speed Verizon sells is 30 mbps for small businesses, or 20 mbps for homes.

"Right now there are not a lot of applications online that demand 100 megabits," Lacouture said. That's true, but probably in large part due to the lack of home connections at that speed — a chicken and egg situation.

Speeds may be going up soon, though: Verizon already raised them once (from 5 mbps to 10 mbps at the lowest tier) in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — the three states where it competes with Cablevision, a technologically sophisticated company that provides downloads at up to 30 mbps.

Apart from capacity, fiber has the advantage of being immune to interference and crosstalk, and nearly immune to rain, which can cause problems on the phone network.

"Customer reports have dropped by a factor of four or five when we've replaced the copper with fiber," Lacouture said.

Verizon expects to cut costs for its outside equipment by 40 percent by switching to fiber. But to get there, it has to spend big.

Verizon's average cost of pulling fiber down a street was $1,400 per home at the beginning of last year, not including the cost of actually connecting the homes. The target cost this year is $890 per home, reflecting improvements in materials and techniques. If it reaches its target of laying fiber by another 3 million homes by the end of the year, that's a cost of $2.7 billion — about half of Verizon's annual earnings.

Verizon is in essence taking the lumps as it blazes a trail for large-scale fiber deployment in the United States across its 28-state territory — it's creating the demand for equipment that allows manufacturers like Motorola Inc. and Tellabs Inc. to bring down costs.

"Every month that goes by we see another improvement," Lacouture said.

A large part of the cost, however, is labor, which doesn't get cheaper by the month. Drawing fiber along a street involves digging a trench to lay it, or putting up plastic tubes on the utility poles, then pulling the fiber through the tubes.

Paul McIlrary, Verizon's area manager for outside plant construction around Massapequa, says his teams of about three people lay fiber at a speed of 25 feet to 35 feet per day in the dense Long Island suburbs. That may sound slow, but McIlrary has 90-110 linemen working to lay fiber just in Freeport, which has 45,000 inhabitants.

"With fiber, it's a light source, and any bend can distort the signal," McIlrary says. "So we have to be careful that we don't bend or kink it."

Other than that, the actual placing operation isn't much different from copper, which Verizon's people have a lot of experience with.

Home installation is another cost: the target here is $715 this year, but Verizon has acknowledged that costs are running above that target. It's a big job, at least if TV service is involved. It took the installer all day to get the Donohues up and running, for instance.

Getting a "drop cable" with fiber to the home from the nearest utility pole is the small part. The installer then attaches a large box, called an Optical Networking Terminal, to the side of the house. On the other side of the wall, he installs a backup battery, which should keep the ONT running for six hours if there is a blackout.

Then he strings coaxial cable from the box to the TV sets (Verizon will use existing coax if it's not substandard), Ethernet cable to an Internet router, and a phone line to handsets. In addition, a small box called a Network Interface Module is installed inside that needs to connect both to the coaxial and Ethernet cables.

With costs like that, it's perhaps no mystery why the other big telephone companies, like AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., are focusing on upgrading their copper DSL lines rather than bringing fiber to the home (though they do draw fiber in new subdivisions). But analysts believe the DSL upgrades are stopgaps, and that the other companies will eventually move to fiber in a few years. By that time, Verizon's efforts may have made the process simpler and cheaper.

"People talk about the risks of doing this," says Michael Render, who tracks fiber buildouts for RVA, the research firm. What they should be talking about, he says, is the risk of not building out fiber. "The world is changing very rapidly."

Irreverent Blogger To Leave Microsoft

A prominent Microsoft Corp. blogger who sometimes bluntly bashed the software behemoth is leaving the company to join PodTech.net, a Silicon Valley video blogging startup.

Robert Scoble, 41 said Sunday he's going to miss the company, which seemed to love him the more he criticized it.

Asked why he thought Microsoft didn't mind his public criticism, Scoble said he thinks it's because Chairman
Bill Gates "loves arguing out ideas."

"He knows that an idea can change the world. How are you going to get the best ideas from 60,000 people? Let an idea get out in the public square and let people talk about it," Scoble said in a telephone interview Sunday from San Francisco, where he and PodTech executives were planning to attend a video blogging conference.

Scoble, a "technical evangelist" and strategist for Channel 9, a Web site created two years ago to strengthen ties between Microsoft and outside software developers, said he submitted his letter of resignation on Saturday.

"We are sorry to see Robert leave Microsoft," the company said in a statement its public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom, e-mailed the AP. "Robert made a strong contribution through Channel 9 and his blog during an important time for the company. We wish him well in his future endeavors."

Scoble said he will continue working at the Redmond-based tech giant through the end of the month and begin his job as vice president of media development at PodTech, based in Menlo Park, Calif., in early July.

EBay to Unveil Further Skype Tie-Ins

Online marketplace eBay Inc. is set to detail on Tuesday how it plans to combine its Skype Web telephone-call service into its core U.S. auction business, executives said on Sunday.

"We will have some news on Tuesday about Skype," John Donahoe, president of eBay's Marketplace unit, told an audience of software developers at the company's annual developer conference in Las Vegas.

Newsweek magazine reported on Sunday that the company plans to encourage eBay sellers to embed Skype calling links into auction pages in a few product categories, including cars, real estate and diamond solitaire rings.

So-called "click to call" features through which eBay customers can contact sellers directly via text message, voice or video conference have been a main selling point of eBay's acquisition of Skype in October for as much as $4.2 billion.

Executives declined to provide further details during a panel discussion at the developers' conference. The eBay-Skype announcement will be made during Bill Cobb's keynote speech Tuesday evening at the company's annual user conference here. Cobb is president of eBay's core North American unit.

A Skype spokesman declined to comment on the plans.

So far, eBay has moved cautiously to knit Skype into its core eBay auction business.

While more than 100 millions users worldwide have signed up to use the free or low-cost computer and phone calling service, the U.S. market has been slower to develop. Initially, there was little overlap between eBay's audience and Skype users.

In its most basic form, Skype differs little from other popular instant messaging software systems. And while its Web calling features are catching on among computer users, users must first buy earphones, microphones or special phone handsets to take advantage of cheap phone call features.

Len Pryor, Skype's head of developer relations, said in interview that the company has been testing Skype integration with eBay in five smaller country markets in Asia and Europe, including Belgium.

"The key markets will be coming online later," Pryor said, when asked about the time frame for embedding Skype features in the auctions business in its main markets of the United States, Germany and Britain.

EBay to Add a Phone Link From Listings to Sellers
Ken Belson

EBay said yesterday that sellers on its auction site would be able to add a link to their listings allowing potential buyers to reach them through Skype, the Internet phone service.

The announcement comes nine months after eBay raised eyebrows by spending $2.6 billion for Skype, a European start-up that at the time had just $60 million in sales.

With a few clicks of the mouse, shoppers with Skype's free software installed on their computers can then talk or send short messages to the sellers, ask for more information and, eBay hopes, buy more goods.

Starting Monday, the Skype feature will be available to sellers advertising their products in 14 categories, including real estate, cars and trucks, silver coins and beds. EBay said it chose those categories because they included expensive items or complex products that could generate many questions. EBay expects Skype to generate $200 million in sales this year.

"We believe that Skype will enhance the way that people communicate and trade on eBay, especially in high-involvement and high-price categories," Bill Cobb, the president of eBay North America, said in a statement issued as a convention of eBay sellers was under way in Las Vegas.

While calls between the computers of Skype users are free, the company makes most of its money when users buy prepaid blocks of minutes so they can make calls from their PC's to landlines and cellphones.

The perception in the market that eBay paid too much for Skype is one reason eBay's stock has tumbled 22 percent since the deal was announced in September. Shares of eBay rose 40 cents, to $30.51 yesterday before the Skype announcement.

EBay executives, however, continue to say that Skype will help buyers and sellers close deals because they can talk to each other. With Skype's free videophone feature, buyers can also get another look at products.

To encourage more people to use Skype, eBay last month eliminated the 2-cents-a-minute charge users in the United States and Canada would normally pay to call landlines and mobile phones in their countries.

Many analysts say that Skype will be hard pressed to turn a profit on its own because it is cutting potential sources of revenue and must fend off Yahoo and AOL, which are developing competing products. But they say that the free phone service should help to relieve some of the concerns that eBay overpaid for Skype.

"It will be a long time before we have the hindsight to determine the value of the purchase," said Timothy M. Boyd, an analyst at Caris & Company. But "if Skype becomes the No. 1 Internet phone product and totally ubiquitous, it becomes one more spoke in eBay's strategy."

Fried Gatsos

What’s that you say? never heard of it? Well well, you would if you lived in great Britain. as a matter of fact, you might even call it your favorite dish.

It is the ubiquitous autoroute camera that has sprung up nearly everywhere, dispensing tickets and keeping a paternal eye on those naughty Brits.

But some people haven't quite gotten the message that all these cameras and all this watching is good for them. These camera hooligans have even taken to torching the boxes that house the sleepless safety eyes, making poor neighborhood souls worry that no one's watching over them anymore!

Never fear, you're always being watched. This is England! Authorities make sure they pop right back up again, good as new.

This is another burnt out Gatso in West Yorkshire. The damage is extensive: the glass has shattered in the windows, the metal has buckled on the roof and so have the sides of the window containing the flash. To top it all off there is a sticker saying Free Country.
Free country? FREE COUNTRY!? The unmitigated gall!

God Save the Queen.


A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears
Paul Vitello

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

Audio: The High-Pitched Ring Tone (mp3)

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course.

Recently, in classes at Trinity and elsewhere, some students have begun testing the boundaries of their new technology. One place was Michelle Musorofiti's freshman honors math class at Roslyn High School on Long Island.

At Roslyn, as at most schools, cellphones must be turned off during class. But one morning last week, a high-pitched ring tone went off that set teeth on edge for anyone who could hear it. To the students' surprise, that group included their teacher.

"Whose cellphone is that?" Miss Musorofiti demanded, demonstrating that at 28, her ears had not lost their sensitivity to strangely annoying, high-pitched, though virtually inaudible tones.

"You can hear that?" one of them asked.

"Adults are not supposed to be able to hear that," said another, according to the teacher's account.

She had indeed heard that, Miss Musorofiti said, adding, "Now turn it off."

The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around.

It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.

The principle behind it is a biological reality that hearing experts refer to as presbycusis, or aging ear. While Miss Musorofiti is not likely to have it, most adults over 40 or 50 seem to have some symptoms, scientists say.

While most human communication takes place in a frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz (a hertz being the scientific unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second), most adults' ability to hear frequencies higher than that begins to deteriorate in early middle age.

"It's the most common sensory abnormality in the world," said Dr. Rick A. Friedman, an ear surgeon and research scientist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

But in a bit of techno-jujitsu, someone — a person unknown at this time, but probably not someone with presbycusis — realized that the Mosquito, which uses this common adult abnormality to adults' advantage, could be turned against them.

The Mosquito noise was reinvented as a ring tone.

"Our high-frequency buzzer was copied. It is not exactly what we developed, but it's a pretty good imitation," said Simon Morris, marketing director for Compound Security, the company behind the Mosquito. "You've got to give the kids credit for ingenuity."

British newspapers described the first use of the high-frequency ring tone last month in some schools in Wales, where Compound Security's Mosquito device was introduced as a "yob-buster," a reference to the hooligans it was meant to disperse.

Since then, Mr. Morris said his company has received so much attention — none of it profit-making because the ring tone was in effect pirated — that he and his partner, Howard Stapleton, the inventor, decided to start selling a ring tone of their own. It is called Mosquitotone, and it is now advertised as "the authentic Mosquito ring tone."

David Herzka, a Roslyn High School freshman, said he researched the British phenomenon a few weeks ago on the Web, and managed to upload a version of the high-pitched sound into his cellphone.

He transferred the ring tone to the cellphones of two of his friends at a birthday party on June 3. Two days later, he said, about five students at school were using it, and by Tuesday the number was a couple of dozen.

"I just made it for my friends. I don't use a cellphone during class at school," he said.

How, David was asked, did he think this new device would alter the balance of power between adults and teenagers? Or did he suppose it was a passing fad?

"Well, probably it is," said David, who added after a moment's thought, "And if not, I guess the school will just have to hire a lot of young teachers."

Kate Hammer and Nate Schweber contributed reporting for this article.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/12/te... tner=homepage

ACLU Tries to Stop Warrantless Wiretapping

Critics of the government's domestic surveillance program claim it violates the rights of free speech and privacy. The Bush administration says it is necessary and legal.

Both sides were in court Monday to argue the constitutionality of the program, with the American Civil Liberties Union seeking an immediate halt to warrantless wiretapping.

The Bush administration has asked U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor to dismiss the lawsuit, saying litigation would jeopardize state secrets.

The administration has acknowledged eavesdropping on Americans' international communications without first seeking court approval. President Bush has said the eavesdropping is legal because of a congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that authorized him to use force in the fight against terrorism.

The parties in the ACLU lawsuit, who include journalists, scholars and lawyers, say the program has hampered their ability to do their jobs because it has made international contacts, such as sources and potential witnesses, wary of sharing information over the phone.

Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director, said the administration's arguments in defense of the program don't square with the Constitution.

''The framers never intended to give the president the power to ignore the laws of Congress even during wartime and emergencies,'' she said last week during a conference call with reporters.

She said no state secrets need to be revealed to litigate the case because the administration has already acknowledged the program exists. The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a similar lawsuit on the eavesdropping in federal court in New York.

In Web Era, Big Money Can't Buy an Exclusive
Julie Bosman

After winning the very expensive rights to the first photographs of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, the editors at People magazine formed a publicity plan. Appear for an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC "Today" show. Give the photos to the tabloids, which will run them in full color on their front pages. Then, on Friday, release the pictures in glossy form to the world on newsstands everywhere, for an increased cover price of $3.99.

Instead, days before their official publication, the pictures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt cuddling their days-old infant first appeared on Gawker, PerezHilton.com and about two dozen other gossip blogs and Web sites. Some photos were taken from a bootleg copy of Hello! magazine, which had obtained the rights in Britain to the photos for a reported $3.5 million. Others that appeared later were from copies of People that the magazine says may have been stolen before official distribution. Within an hour of the first postings, lawyers for the magazine began unleashing cease-and-desist letters to the offending Web sites.

But did the Internet publication of the pictures really undermine People's publicity plan?

Magazine analysts say the blogs may have actually done the magazine a favor by drumming up even more interest that may translate into higher newsstand sales. But the episode does show that it is no longer business as usual for celebrity magazines, as gossip blogs take on an ever-larger role.

People magazine has been there before — most memorably when it planned to publish the exclusive pictures of Britney Spears's newborn son, only to see them reproduced prematurely on Web sites — but never with pictures worth so much and illegally posted so widely.

People's editors, who had just lived through an intense all-night bidding war that lasted by some accounts into Sunday morning, were livid when the photos were first leaked on Tuesday.

"As a guy who went through all the efforts to get these pictures, my initial reaction was anger," Larry Hackett, the managing editor of People, said in an interview on Friday. "Someone's taking your stuff."

The photos, after all, had come at a price: The New York Post reported that People had paid $4.1 million for the exclusive North American rights to the photos. Mr. Hackett said the number was inaccurate, but declined to name the real figure. "It was a substantial amount of money" was all he would say.

"Pics of the Messiah!" trumpeted the gossip blog DListed, with pictures that contained the tell-tale fold down the middle that are produced when a magazine is pressed onto a photo scanner. At PerezHilton.com, the pictures were enhanced with white handwriting over them. ("Hot Pop" on a picture of Mr. Pitt; "The Little Ladies" was written over a photo of Ms. Jolie, Shiloh and her other daughter, Zahara.)

A post on Gawker said the first letter from Nicholas Jollymore, a lawyer for People's parent company, Time Inc., came within an hour of the photo's appearance on the blog.

Then Gawker reprinted an e-mail exchange between its managing editor, Lockhart Steele, and Mr. Jollymore.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hackett was interviewed by Mr. Lauer on the "Today" show on Thursday morning, the same day the pictures appeared — free of charge — on the covers of The New York Post and The New York Daily News.

By late Friday afternoon, Gawker had cried uncle. "This time, turns out that posting the pics actually is illegal," a post read. "Or so we're told. Our lawyer could just be drunk and not wanting to deal. Whatever."

But magazine analysts say the widespread posting of exclusive photos on Web sites could feed sales on the newsstand, where People will make extra revenue by raising the price of the magazine to $3.99 from its usual $3.49.

"I think it gins up the publicity machine," said Martin Walker, a magazine consultant and the chairman of Walker Communications in New York. "It just creates more buzz, more noise, so more people will buy the magazine."

Mr. Hackett conceded that all of the reproductions of the photographs might increase interest in the magazine. "I must confess, I think it helps," he said. "Clearly, the blogs have betrayed a huge amount of interest in these photographs and people want to see them."

But Gawker, for one, had a different interpretation. Jessica Coen, the blog's co-editor, told USA Today on Thursday that "a few less people are going to buy it if they can see it online." On Friday, Mr. Steele, Gawker's managing editor, declined an interview, saying only that he is letting the posts on Gawker speak for themselves.

Despite the steep price, acquiring the photos is both a short-term and long-term strategy, Mr. Hackett said. In the short term, publicity surrounding the newsstand sales could lift sales and generate positive publicity for the magazine.

But in the long term, People wants to reaffirm that it is the place where these kinds of high-profile photos will appear. "I would not want to give Us Weekly or any other magazine the kind of traction in this arena," Mr. Hackett said.

Analysts say that People should expect enormous sales of the issue, possibly as many as five million copies in a week. People is by far the leader in the weekly celebrity magazine category, with an average circulation of 3.7 million in the last six months of 2005, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Wenner Media's Us Weekly has a circulation of 1.7 million, while American Media's Star has 1.4 million.

But as large as People's reach is, it is a mainstream audience and may not overlap with readers of blogs with a sardonic edge, said Robert S. Boynton, the director of the magazine program at New York University and the author of "The New New Journalism."

"The blogosphere is so self-important, do you really think the same people who read blogs are going to be buying People magazine?" Mr. Boynton said. "I just can't see that the blogosphere is really as important an economic factor as something like this when it comes to a mass-marketed commercial magazine."

Even if the audience overlaps, the glossy pictures printed in People have their own appeal, said Samir Husni, a magazine analyst and professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi.

"The blogs are whetting the appetite of the public, but they want to see the real thing," Mr. Husni said. "To this addicted public, it is not real unless it is in their hands, on their laps, in their bath tub."

Idea for Electronic Message Tax Prompts Swift Outcry in Europe
Thomas Crampton

A French member of the European Parliament, Alain Lamassoure, recently uttered the dreaded T-word — taxes — in connection with e-mail and mobile phone text messages, and in so doing earned the wrath of the Internet generation.

No matter how remote the possibility may be — or how useful such taxes might be in financing the European Union budget — the mere mention of taxing messages was enough to ignite the blogosphere and industry lobbying groups.

Mr. Lamassoure raised the option of a Europewide tax on e-mail and text messages last month in a working group on ways to finance the European Union's rising costs. As indignant missives filled the message board on Mr. Lamassoure's Web site, he distanced himself from the proposal, saying he had mentioned the idea only as a topic for discussion, not as something he supported.

Any new tax could not move ahead without approval from all of the European Union's 25 national Parliaments, and a message tax in particular is not even at the stage of a formal proposal. Still, some politicians and technology experts say the debate could serve to highlight imbalances between casual users and Internet hogs.

West Europeans spent a total of about 15 billion euros, or $19 billion, sending 157 billion phone text messages in 2005, according to Thomas Husson, a Paris-based mobile phone analyst at Jupiter Research. International Data Corporation has estimated that the number of daily e-mails sent in 2006 — including the 40 percent that are spam — will exceed 60 billion a day worldwide, up from 31 billion in 2002.

Text messages in Europe range from about 0.10 euro to 0.15 euro each when charged individually; a set number of texts is also sometimes part of a monthly subscription. At that price, Mr. Lamassoure said, there is ample room to lower consumer prices and impose a tax of 0.01 euro a message.

E-mail messages — which are not currently counted on a per-unit basis like mobile phone text messages — would initially be more difficult to measure for taxation, Mr. Lamassoure said.

Mr. Lamassoure said he had learned that reaction from Internet users could be swift and harsh. "I appreciate their concern," he said, "but it is absurd to say that my ideas will kill the Internet."

Phone companies and Internet service providers, the companies that would be most affected by the proposed taxes, have reacted harshly as well.

"Taxation of e-mails or Internet flies in the face of principles the E.U. has been trying to support," said Richard Nash, secretary general of the European Internet Service Providers Association in Brussels, in reference to efforts by Europe to encourage the growth of technology. "This is one of the more bizarre initiatives, and it is unlikely to increase the popularity of the European Union if it succeeds."

Yet some in the technology industry say Internet costs are no longer divided equitably among users. Heavy users typically pay the same monthly price as light ones.

"The current system of payments for the Internet made sense when it all started, but the incentives are getting more and more misaligned," said Esther Dyson, a technology consultant.

Ms. Dyson said, for example, that users who consumed more network resources through downloading video should pay more than users who just viewed a few Web sites each day. For e-mail, Ms. Dyson advocates a system in which senders would pay on a graded scale to be certain their messages are delivered. Friends would not pay to send an e-mail, for example, but those who did not know the recipient, like companies sending promotional mail, would pay.

The result, Ms. Dyson said, would be to cut down on spam and make those who send unwanted e-mails bear the cost. "As it stands, the unfortunate recipients of spam pay to receive and store unwanted e-mails," she said. "It only makes sense to have those sending spam pay."

This concept provoked considerable debate in February, when AOL and Yahoo said they had signed up with Goodmail, a Silicon Valley company that charges companies for sending bulk messages that are guaranteed to arrive in users' mailboxes. AOL and Yahoo have been guaranteeing delivery of Goodmail-sponsored messages since May.

"People have become very comfortable with e-mail being a free medium, so there was some surprise that companies would pay to send e-mails," said Richard Gingras, chief executive of Goodmail. "The difference is that consumers view our e-mail as more certain."

"Reports of the leaks make for good drama."

Virus Spreads Private Data, Scandal Over File-Sharing Network
Carl Freire

A computer virus that targets the popular file-sharing program Winny isn't the most destructive bug or even the most widespread. But it's the most talked about in Japan as it generates headline after headline, month after month.

The malware, called Antinny, finds random files on Winny users' PCs and makes them available on the file-sharing network. So far, the data leaked have been varied and plentiful: passwords for restricted areas at airports, police investigations, customer information, sales reports, staff lists.

The constantly updated virus seems to have spared no one _ airlines, local police forces, mobile phone companies, the National Defense Agency. Even an antivirus software manufacturer has suffered.

"The virus has been quite effective in getting information off a user's computer and onto the Internet. The data is supposed to be secret, so people are quite sensitive about it," said Tsukuba University computer scientist Kazuhiko Kato.

Compared to attacks on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software, the scope of the Antinny outbreak is narrow. But the Winny mess has caused an enormous brouhaha in Japan.

Antinny also may have the dubious distinction of being the first virus to exploit the nature of file-sharing itself _ in Japan, if not in the world, said Mamoru Saito of Telecom Information Sharing and Analysis Center Japan. Other viruses and spyware are often found on such networks, though none appears to take advantage of the underlying technology to spread personal data.

And while Antinny's writers seem to be limiting themselves to Japanese file-sharing software for now, he said, the code theoretically could be modified to attack other file-sharing networks such as Gnutella and BitTorrent.

The outbreak has triggered a broad damage-control effort by government and businesses. They have banned Winny from in-house computers and fired employees who use it on them. They've also demanded that staff not take work home and delete Winny from any home PCs used for work.

"The most secure way to prevent the leakage of information is not to use Winny on your computer," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the government's top spokesman, told reporters.

But the outbreak shows little sign of abating.

"The problem has shown that many people just don't know how to use the Internet safely," said Takeshi Sato of the government's National Information Security Center.

File-sharing programs like Winny are used to find and get files _ from music to video to documents _ from the computers of other people also using the software. The PC owner typically has control over what is made available by limiting sharing to a specific folder.

The virus takes advantage of this culture to propagate itself by playing a "social" trick on users, said Telecom ISAC Japan's Saito.

When the virus is activated on a computer, it first chooses a new name for itself by taking the names of other files users are likely to be searching for _ usually photos or music. The resulting new name becomes so long that, under normal Windows' settings, the three-letter file extension that indicates the type of file disappears from view, he said.

Careless users who download the file will see only the name and think it is something they wanted _ say, a photo of a favorite movie star. They don't see that they are actually trying to open an application, not a picture.

When they do, the virus then looks on the computer for the Winny application, grabs random files off the hard drive and uses Winny to make those files _ and itself _ available for download on the network.

And so the cycle repeats.

New strains of Antinny appear all the time. Software maker Trend Micro listed 46 variations of the virus in its database as of mid-May. Trend itself lost sales data due to a Winny leak in 2005.

"Just keeping your antivirus software up to date isn't enough, because the updates can't keep up with all the new strains of the virus," the government's Sato said.

The government's concerns about Winny go beyond viruses. It's often used to share files _ and that often means illegally exchanging copyrighted materials.

Winny was already on the government's radar screen in November 2004, when its creator _ then an instructor at the prestigious University of Tokyo _ was handed a three-year suspended sentence on charges of violating copyright laws.

But now it is confidential data rather than hit songs that have Winny back in the spotlight.

Japan Airlines, for example, discovered last December that an Antinny-infected computer owned by one of its co-pilots leaked passwords for restricted areas at 16 airports around Japan as well as Guam's international airport. The airline was forced to alert the airports to have passwords changed as a precaution.

In early March, Japan's National Defense Agency said it lost "confidential information" due to a Winny leak, again from an employee's home computer. While defense officials refused to say what data had been lost, a news report said it included reports on training exercises conducted in Okinawa with U.S. troops in 2005.

In the aftermath of the leaks, the agency ordered employees not to use Winny on any computers used for work. It also announced plans to purchase 56,000 computers so employees would no longer have to use their own equipment for work.

Schools, Internet providers and electric companies are among the others who can tell of similar losses. Making matters worse, reports began surfacing in May that the virus was now attacking another Japanese file-sharing application called Share (pronounced "shah-ray"), opening the door to yet more embarrassing leaks.

The excitement being generated is all the more remarkable when one considers the outbreak's scale.

Because Antinny needs Winny to spread, both the virus and the files it picks up are limited to a small section of Internet users _ anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people, based on government and industry estimates.

Government statistics show Antinny was responsible for a minuscule fraction of the 24,155 virus outbreaks reported between November 2005 and April 2006.

"Reports of the leaks make for good drama," Tsukuba's Kato said. "Still, they show that people need to be careful if they connect their computers to the Internet."

The government and businesses are trying to help, with everything from educational pamphlets and Web sites to free software that can remove Antinny, Winny or both. But there are limits to what they can do.

"The industry is providing information about how to deal with the problem," said Telecom ISAC-Japan's Saito. "The question is whether or not the users do anything about it."

Celestial Jukebox Falls to Earth
Eliot Van Buskirk

By now, we music fans are well accustomed to getting whatever we want online, whether from iTunes, subscription services such as Rhapsody or free P2P networks.

But this new freedom to listen to anything has come without freedom of movement; you're only free to get new music when you're sitting at your computer. When it comes to portable listening, you're generally stuck with whatever you loaded onto your MP3 player.

Pundits have been yammering away for years about a "celestial jukebox" that will give everyone the ability to access all content ever created, from anywhere, at any time. This long-discussed concept is finally becoming a reality, at least as far as music goes.

One option is already available: the music cell phone, which can download music from satellites, literally fulfilling prophecies of a digital jukebox in the sky. According to Kent German, senior editor of CNET's cell-phone reviews section, the two leading wireless music services in the United States are Verizon's V Cast ($2 per track, over a million songs) and the Sprint Music Store ($2.50 a track, 400,000 songs).

If you're at the gym and suddenly decide to motivate yourself with Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" during the last five minutes of your stairclimber routine, would you pay $2.50 for the privilege? Probably not. But if the song were part of a $15 monthly flat fee? It's a lot more likely (though hopefully you wouldn't get this version).

The celestial jukebox is all about impulse buying. But even if you can buy the music in theory, the pocketbook can rear up as a barrier that's as potent as any technological failure. For cell-phone carriers, price is likely to always be a brick in the wall. Even if they manage to lower prices as their wireless networks become more robust, they'll still have to charge approximately what iTunes charges per song, plus an additional amount to offset their additional infrastructure costs.

In the other corner of the sky is satellite radio. XM and Sirius let you pay a flat subscription fee, but you can't pick and choose what to hear at any given time. And although some satellite receivers let you save songs as they stream to your player, that ability is under legal attack from (who else?) attorneys for the RIAA. Technologies that promise to do the same for terrestrial digital radio (CD-quality FM, FM-quality AM, no subscription fees, with metadata included for each song) have already been threatened by a similar, albeit preemptive attack.

Even if satellite and digital radio companies can fend off the RIAA, their song-caching feature will still be only a pale imitation of services like Rhapsody and Napster, which let you download an unlimited number of songs for a monthly fee, without the need to wait for them to show up in a radio show. (They also offer radio and playlists for when you don't know what you're looking for.)

The celestial jukebox needs to incorporate a Rhapsody-like flat fee subscription in order to allow impulse downloading. If you're going to pay the same $10 to $15 a month whether you download "Eye of the Tiger" or not, why not do it? As far as current wireless options go, neither the expensive a la carte cell-phone model or satellite radio broadcasts can make this happen.

There's another way to get there: by combining an internet-based subscription service with Wi-Fi wirelessly completing the so-called "last mile of service" (well, in this case more like the last 50 feet or so). At least two companies have incorporated Wi-Fi into release or pre-release MP3 player units: MusicGremlin and SoniqCast.

The SoniqCast devices I tested used their Wi-Fi connections to grab music from your PC, but MusicGremlin announced plans at CES earlier this year for a subscription service that'd let you download any of 1.5 million tracks (anything in MusicNet's catalog) onto one of its 8-GB MP3 players using Wi-Fi.

A Wi-Fi-enabled subscription service would lead to all sorts of impulse listening. While reading a music magazine in bed, you could queue up downloads of the artists mentioned without getting up. Or if a friend tells you about a band they think you'll like, you could listen to it on the way home (provided there's some Wi-Fi nearby, as is increasingly the case).

The celestial jukebox, which will famously follow you around reacting to your every musical whim, could be enabled by mere earthbound internet cables and Wi-Fi hot spots.

Blues Legend B.B. King Still Touring at 80

Blues legend B.B. King likes to pass the time while on tour relaxing in his jumbo-sized luxury bus, playing dominoes and checkers on his silver laptop computer.

But King plays a lot more than just computer games, obviously. He's been exceptionally busy lately playing his favorite guitar, Lucille, at tour stops that included Chicago, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as his annual homecoming festival in Indianola, Miss.

His performance here this weekend was his last scheduled appearance in his home state before he heads off for several more around the U.S. and then on to Europe early next month for his final overseas tour performances. And then back to America for a last leg.

''I still will tour domestically somewhat, not nothing like I've been,'' King told The Associated Press, on the bus before the sold-out show. ''It is time to cut down a bit. Now that I am 80 years old, I said that once I'd made it -- 80, that is -- I would cut back.''

So much for that idea.

He also managed during this part of the tour to squeeze in some living history segments for the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, which is under construction near the cotton gin where King once worked.

''I went to a place I haven't been in 80 years -- my birthplace,'' King said, with laughter.

He was born on a plantation in Itta Bena near Indianola. To find it, he said the crew used audio recordings of his late father giving directions to get there. Hearing Albert King's voice was a very emotional experience for the blues legend.

''My dad never told me he loved me -- outward,'' King said. ''He never said it in words, but he had a way of talking to me that made me know,'' he said. ''I learned when he was very pleased with me, he called me `Jack.' I don't know why. I knew when he said `Jack,' I could see the look in his eyes.''

Born Riley B. King, the blues great was named after his father's friend Jim O'Reilly. King said he once asked his father why his name didn't begin with the ''O.''

''He said, `You didn't look Irish enough,''' King quipped.

The memories came flooding back to King during his birthplace visit, including one moment when the father remarked about the son's guitar skills.

''He never told me I was good as an entertainer. He did tell me once, `Boy, you'll never play guitar as good as I am.' I didn't argue with him,'' King said.

King hopes the museum will help keep his music alive.

''I want to be able to share with the world the blues as I know it -- that kind of music -- and talk about the Delta and Mississippi as a whole,'' he said. ''I'm hoping I can live long enough to see it up.''

A diabetic, King keeps several sugar-free snacks in the back of his bus. He favored the cheddar-cheese flavored Goldfish crackers.

''Would you like some?'' King said. ''I like them. They are good.''

As King ate a handful, he fastidiously kept any crumbs from falling on his black tuxedo. The temperature in the bus was around 75 degrees, but King was comfortable in his slacks, trademark leather shoes and long-sleeved white dress shirt.

''I like to think that when you go on stage you should never go on stage with the clothes that you wore in the street,'' he explained. ''If I go and see a concert and see everybody in overalls... it is not as exciting to me as to see them looking like they are show people.''

As famous as King is for his guitar mastery, he also stands out because of his mellifluous voice, and the stories he tells with it.

''When I'm singing I don't want you to just hear the melody,'' he said. ''I want you to relive the story because most of the songs have pretty good story telling.''

Fox's Own Superheroes: A Daring Duo at the Studio
Laura M. Holson

In Hollywood, candor is as common as a blue polyester pantsuit on Rodeo Drive.

That is why the actor Hugh Jackman reacted with surprise at what he heard in a meeting at 20th Century Fox last year to discuss "X-Men: The Last Stand," the third entry in the "X-Men" trilogy. Tom Rothman, Fox's energetic co-chairman, wanted to share an idea for the movie's plot: it would center on a medical cure for the mutant gene.

"I love this idea," Mr. Rothman said effusively as he bounded across the room to greet the actor, who was deciding whether to rejoin the cast. But there was one problem, Mr. Rothman conceded: he had no other ideas. If Mr. Jackman did not like the idea, Mr. Rothman described that situation in a harshly profane term.

"Can you think of any other studio executive who would have said that?" said Mr. Jackman, laughing. "There was no game playing. No tricks. No one talks like that in Hollywood. I suppose some people here don't want a straight answer; they want the candy-coated version. But at Fox they are not shy about giving their opinions."

However un-Hollywood the approach, it seems to be working for Fox, a unit of the News Corporation. Since becoming the co-chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment in 2000, Mr. Rothman and his partner, Jim Gianopulos, have churned out blockbusters like "The Day After Tomorrow," "Ice Age" and its sequel and the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies.

At the same time Fox's specialty divisions have scored with lower-budget films, including last year's Academy Award winner "Walk the Line," "Sideways" in 2004 and the cult hit "Napoleon Dynamite."

With those hits, the studio has increased operating profit in the filmed entertainment division (which includes television production) year over year for the last four years, from $473 million in fiscal 2002 to $1 billion in fiscal 2005. Other studios in recent years have had more mixed results.

For the year to date, Fox is No. 1 in theatrical market share. As important, it has fostered a corporate culture that the News Corporation seeks in all its television, news and mobile entertainment divisions: eyes fixed on the bottom line while remaining fearless about creative risks.

Indeed Fox's success may well reflect less the current state of Hollywood movie making than the way News Corporation's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, and his No. 2, Peter Chernin, run the company.

"The only thing you can ask is that people be straightforward to the point of bluntness," said Mr. Chernin, News Corporation's president. "That sort of backslapping, slick Hollywood attitude is not good for us or the business. It tends to lead to problems."

Problems, that is, with actors, producers and directors who demand as much money and power as a studio is willing to cede. As a result, Fox's make-no-excuses philosophy can be off-putting for some filmmakers. Fox won't approve a movie production until all contracts are signed. Movie directors are forced to defend their artistic decisions vigorously. And studio executives spare no ego if they decide a movie is too expensive.

"I'd heard the horror stories about the studio taking away movies and such; I was curious to see if it was that bad," said Brett Ratner, who directed "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Mr. Ratner, whose movie is a hit, said he was happy with Fox. But other directors were not so lucky. In May, a month before Jay Roach was to begin directing the comedy "Used Guys," the studio pulled the plug on the movie, citing a high budget ($112 million), scheduling concerns and the actors' generous profit-sharing arrangement. Mr. Roach declined to comment on the matter.

Still, despite what some would regard as bare-knuckled behavior, Mr. Rothman and Mr. Gianopulos maintain longstanding relationships with a stylistically diverse cadre of filmmakers.

Seated side by side in craftsman-style chairs in Mr. Rothman's office last week on the Fox lot, the executives displayed different yet well-matched personalities.

Mr. Gianopulos, 54, compact and given to warm laughter, absently plays with a bottle cap from a soft drink that Mr. Rothman brought to him from a refrigerator just outside the office. The 51-year-old Mr. Rothman, on the other hand, is tall and lanky, vibrating with the intensity of an overeager puppy ready to pounce.

"We are not here to be liked," Mr. Rothman said. "We don't work for talent agencies. We work for Fox. Our job is not to worry about agents who jibber-jabber to reporters, who worry about headlines." Mr. Gianopulos added that currying favor "is not tolerated around here from anyone; you are not going to get ahead scheming."

While the talk is tough, at least the rules are clear. "They never try to stuff their ideas down your throat," said Peter Farrelly, who has directed several films for Fox. "They will let you argue your point, and if you can't back it up, they won't back down."

Last year, for instance, Jim Ward, the president of LucasArts and the person responsible for marketing George Lucas's "Star Wars" movies, which are distributed by Fox, was troubled when Fox announced it would release Ridley Scott's epic "Kingdom of Heaven" nine days before the release of "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith." His concern was that "Kingdom of Heaven" would hurt ticket sales for the opening weekend of "Star Wars."

Mr. Ward confronted Mr. Gianopulos about moving "Kingdom" to another date. In the past, Mr. Ward said, Fox would have acquiesced to Mr. Lucas's requests. But Mr. Gianopulos refused, sticking by Mr. Scott.

"I didn't like it," Mr. Ward said, "but I had to respect it." In the end "Kingdom of Heaven" was no threat to "Star Wars," which brought in $380 million at the domestic box office.

There are plenty of stories in Hollywood about coequal executives plotting to push each other out. But Mr. Rothman and Mr. Gianopulos, both lawyers, do not seem headed in that direction. Mr. Rothman, who has worked at Fox for 12 years developing movies, oversees much of the studio's creative efforts. Mr. Gianopulos, a longtime international theatrical executive, also handles movies, but is active in exploring new technologies.

To ensure that enterprising executives (or agents and managers) do not try to pit the two against each other, the men instituted the "chairman's rule": if one of the two makes a decision, the other agrees no matter what. Of course that does not bar them from sparring with each other.

"O.K., I admit it. I didn't understand 'The Day After Tomorrow,' " Mr. Rothman said, referring to the blockbuster about global warming that brought in $187 million at the domestic box office in 2004. "That was Jim's call and we had a big fight over it."

"Come on," Mr. Gianopulos shouted. "I like that kind of movie!"

"I had a question about how to make it look fresh and original, and if we could execute in time," Mr. Rothman said. "But he was totally enthusiastic."

"I beat him into submission," Mr. Gianopulos said, laughing.

"It wasn't that I yielded; I was happily persuaded," Mr. Rothman countered.

Indeed persuasion, or more likely fiery debate, seems to be the way to get a movie made at Fox.

"Walk the Line" was rejected by every studio in Hollywood before Elizabeth Gabler, another Fox executive, lobbied her bosses to make it, at the low cost of $29 million. It brought in $120 million in the United States.

More recently, Mr. Rothman and Mr. Gianopulos were flummoxed over whether Rogue, a character in "X-Men," should give her beau a passionate kiss at the movie's end or simply hold his hand. The two executives screened the movie for their daughters as well as the studio's female marketing executives, and the hand holding prevailed. "The kissing was all about sex, and we didn't want that," said Mr. Gianopulos, grimacing.

Oddly, these are the same executives who backed the Farrelly brothers movie "There's Something About Mary," which showed a woman using semen as hair gel and a man getting his penis caught in his zipper. "I like the fact that decisions aren't easy," Mr. Rothman said. "I like to talk through the issues before they get done, working things over."

Mr. Rothman's probing, though, can be grating, filmmakers and former Fox staff members said. And his tendency to raise his voice when he gets worked up takes getting used to.

"It's no secret that it took a long time for Tom and I to work things out," said Baz Luhrmann, who has been making films for Fox since 1993, including the critically acclaimed "Moulin Rouge," and continues to do so. "There are a lot of Tomisms. He'll say 'It's not exactly my first day.' "

Mr. Rothman insisted that his reactions are never personal, that he is just trying to make the best movie. The director Bryan Singer, who upset Mr. Rothman when he dropped out of the third "X-Men" movie despite a scheduled release this past Memorial Day weekend, described it this way. "I call it a Hollywood moment," he said.

Mr. Rothman had picked Mr. Singer to direct the first "X-Men," and together they shepherded the first two hit movies onto the screen. But as Mr. Singer was negotiating to direct the third "X-Men: The Last Stand" in July 2004, Warner Brothers gave him the offer of directing "Superman Returns." Mr. Singer jumped at the chance and, without first talking to Mr. Rothman, accepted the job.

"If I had done it openly, Tom would have driven to my house and we would have talked about it until sunrise," said Mr. Singer, who still considers Mr. Rothman a friend.

Rumors swirled that Mr. Singer was banned from the Fox lot.

Mr. Rothman, who confirmed Mr. Singer's account of the break, said Mr. Singer had not been banned from the lot, but conceded that the director's leaving was a "personal disappointment." For nearly a year and a half the two did not talk.

Skeptics predicted the franchise was doomed. Mr. Rothman and his team then revised the "X-Men" script and hired Mr. Ratner to direct. And one day earlier this year, Mr. Singer said, he got a phone call from Mr. Rothman asking him to "bury the hatchet" over lunch at Prego.

Of course, for Mr. Rothman and Mr. Gianopulos, the un-Hollywood story is having the perfect Hollywood ending. "X-Men: The Last Stand" was released on Memorial Day weekend as Mr. Rothman had wanted, and raked in $122 million — the biggest opening ever for a movie released over that holiday period.

As of last Friday, "X-Men" was the No. 2 movie this year, bringing in $185 million domestically according to the studio and Nielsen EDI, which tracks box office figures. And No. 1? Another Fox hit, the animated "Ice Age: The Meltdown" with $194 million.

Dogs and Their Fine Noses Find New Career Paths
Jennifer 8. Lee

Jada, with her owner, Carl Massicott, seeking out bedbugs for pay. James Estrin/The New York Times

A year ago, Jada, a frisky black mutt, was living in a Florida pound, her days numbered. Today she commands hundreds of dollars an hour at some of Manhattan's most exclusive hotels and apartment buildings. Her fate turned on her newly gained ability to sniff out something reviled in New York these days: bedbugs.

Last month, the Motion Picture Association of America started using two dogs, Lucky and Flo, to sniff out DVD's in the cargo area of Heathrow Airport in London, a major transit point for pirated DVD's. "First we had Lassie, then Rin Tin Tin and now Lucky and Flo," said Dan Glickman, the president of the association.

Dogs have long been partners in law enforcement's searches for narcotics, explosives and people (both dead and alive). But now their keen noses are being put to use in a wider variety of areas, like medicine, environmental protection and anti-piracy efforts. The number of dogs with the new, specialized skills remains but a fraction of the number trained for more traditional law enforcement uses.

Still, dogs are entering new career paths, learning to sniff out mercury in Minnesota schools, invasive weeds in Montana, cancer in people — even cows in heat.

"The dogs do better than bulls," said Lawrence J. Myers, a professor of veterinary science at Auburn University who wanted to increase the success rate of impregnation attempts, a pressing demand in the dairy industry. Dr. Myers, a leading expert on dogs' sense of smell, added that because dogs "have no innate interest in cows in heat," it takes repetitive training to teach them how to know when the cows are ready. (The bulls do not benefit from the dogs' work. Dairy cows are usually artificially inseminated.)

Dogs' sniffing prowess, well known for ages, lends itself to any number of needs. "Cocaine or peanut butter: whatever you want to find, we can train a dog to find it," said Bill Whitstine, Jada's original trainer and the founder of the Florida Canine Academy in Safety Harbor, Fla.

Engineers are still years away from creating instruments as sensitive or as flexible as a dog's nose. Until then, Mother Nature remains the master engineer. "You can train a dog for anything that has a unique or mostly unique odor," Dr. Myers said. In the case of DVD's, the smell that Lucky and Flo have been trained to detect is polycarbonate plastic. In the case of cancer, scientists believe that dogs may be picking up biological compounds, like alkanes and benzene derivatives, that are not found in healthy tissue.

The cancer detection research is in a preliminary stage, but some early tests with a variety of cancers like lung and bladder show a success rate better than conventional tests'.

Because dogs have 20 to 40 times the number of nasal receptor cells that humans do, they can detect the tiniest levels of odors, even a few parts per billion, Dr. Myers said. In addition, the dogs' nasal anatomy is very effective at sampling air, so much so that researchers are studying whether they can adapt it for a mechanical detector.

To be sure, dogs are but one animal with an extremely acute sense of smell (think European pigs and truffles), but being man's best friend helps with employment opportunities.

"I don't think you could ever get a police officer to get a pig around a car for a narcotics search," said David Latimer, a dog trainer in Birmingham, Ala., who has taught a dog to sniff out cellphones, part of an effort to thwart terrorists who plan to use them to detonate bombs. The dog has not been put to use in the field, however.

The training process is similar for almost all odors. For months, the dogs are given multiple items in succession to smell. When they come to the target odor — bedbugs or mold, for example — they get a reward. Eventually they associate the odor with the reward.

"All animals strive for food, sex and praise," Mr. Whitstine said. "We can't give them the middle one, but we can give them the food and praise." The more odors a dog is being asked to pick out, the longer the training. Mold dogs, for example, are taught to detect about 18 toxic molds, some of which cause allergies.

The training has to continue even after the dogs start working, so they remain sharp. Every day, Jada gets a refresher course from her owner, Carl Massicott, who runs Advanced K9 Detectives in Milford, Conn. To conduct the retraining, he built a contraption out of aluminum bars, a lazy susan and plastic containers. He spins the wheel and says, "Jada! Seek! Seek!"

Jada sniffed around the containers — one containing bedbug carcasses and the others containing decoy materials like carpet and plaster. When she got to the one with the dead bedbugs, she stopped. Then she tapped the container with her paw. "Good girl!" Mr. Massicott said, giving her a snack out of his waist pack.

He also uses live bedbugs for the retraining, which troubles his wife. Once, one escaped. "We weren't going to bed until we found it," Mr. Massicott said. Jada tracked the wayward bedbug down.

Jada needs only two minutes to check a room that can take a human up to half an hour to inspect. She has rooted out clusters of bedbugs in $500-a-night hotel rooms, elegant Park Avenue co-op buildings and Queens low-rise rentals. She has found bedbugs behind radiators and in cracks in the wall.

Many dogs who end up as career sniffers are rescued from shelters or pounds, just as Jada was, because the most important trait for them is not pedigree but personality. Trainers look for dogs that are eager and enjoy games. A common test is to see if they react enthusiastically to a tennis ball.

"Some dogs are too smart," said Alice Whitelaw, who works for a nonprofit conservation group in Montana and uses dogs to track wild animal excrement for biological surveying. "They're like, 'I don't need this. I could be lying down all day.' "

There are other limitations, since dogs are not machines. Jada can look for bedbugs only six hours a day before her accuracy declines. Dogs get tired. They are temperamental. They make mistakes in trying to please their handlers. In fact, overly high expectations helped fuel a boom and bust in termite-sniffing dogs in the 1980's. "We realize their fallibility," said Mr. Latimer, the trainer from Birmingham who is also training bedbug dogs. "I think that has caused them to gain in popularity and, quite frankly, in credibility."

Also, using sniffing dogs makes economic sense only when there is sufficient demand, like the recent surge in bedbugs in New York City.

As for sensing cows in heat, Dr. Myers sighed. "There is economic interest, but not enough to sustain it."
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/13/ny... tner=homepage

Broadcast TV

Hoping to 'Come on Down' to 'The Price Is Right'
Jennifer Steinhauer

The daytime television schedule may be littered with gabby talk shows, sunny news programs and adjudications of who, precisely, put his foot through the window of the neighbor's El Camino.

But nearly 35 years since Bob Barker first beckoned Americans to come on down, his game show, "The Price Is Right," continues to corner a certain market.

Thousands of fans — from 19-year-old Midwestern college students to octogenarians who have had crushes on Mr. Barker since he and they were middle-aged — continue to line up along Fairfax Avenue here at 3 a.m., four days a week, most of the year, hoping for one of the 325 spots in the studio audience.

They come in intergenerational groups or solo. They schedule vacations around tapings of the show, and spend months organizing friends and family members to meet them here, wearing T-shirts that identify them by their town or family name. (One man was recently spotted refusing to don his group's shirt at breakfast. Things did not go well for him.)

They stay by the dozens at the Farmer's Daughter hotel across the street from the CBS studio where "The Price Is Right" is taped, and get a nightly tutorial from a desk clerk on how to become members of the studio audience.

For every American who dreams that a singing voice, dance skills or back-stabbing boardroom tactics will earn him a piece of prime-time fame, thousands more have dreamed smaller, longing only to guess the price of a sectional couch or a pint of heavy cream. They don't want a record contract; they want an all-expenses-paid trip to Asia, or maybe a banjo.

"I have been watching this show all my life," said Gregory Bourgard, 26, who comes several times a year from Odenton, Md., to line up for a spot in the audience, even though he can never be a contestant again because he was once a showcase winner.

"I'm not trying to relive the moment," he said on a recent Sunday night at the Farmer's Daughter, where he was gearing up for visit No. 30. "I just want to be in the audience again."

Game shows may come and go, but "The Price Is Right" is a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans.

Who under 50 — except for those raised by parents who banned television and put rice cakes rather than Ring Dings in their lunchboxes — did not spend dozens of childhood mornings zoned out on the couch, playing along with the Dice Game or screaming at the fool from San Diego about to overbid on a bag of corn chips?

"We're here for our parents, our grandparents and people in our lives who have since passed on who watched the show," said Cindy Kilkenny, 57.

It is the democracy of the audience, and the show's theme — how to gauge inflation, essentially — that has sustained its appeal, said Mr. Barker, the show's 82-year-old host (and its executive producer).

"Everyone in the United States can identify with our show," he said. "On most game shows today you will see contestants between 20 and 45 who are physically attractive. We have people on 'The Price Is Right' who are between 20 and 45 who are physically attractive too."

"But we have people who, when they became 18, the first thing they did was come to 'The Price Is Right,' " he continued, "and I had a big winner on a recent show who was 95. We deliberately select contestants that are black, white and brown. We deliberately pick contestants from all over the United States. We have fat people, thin, short, tall, you name it."

How much stuff costs, he added, is what people think about every day, anyway. "The premise is so overpowering," he said. "Everyone identifies with prices. Whether you're a television executive or a newspaper reporter or a policeman or unemployed."

And while television may worship 22-year-olds and body parts created in the operating theater, Mr. Barker is also part of the show's grand appeal, and he has the X-rays to prove it. One overzealous fan bear-hugged Mr. Barker and broke a rib; several have crushed his toes; and one raced onto the stage and head-butted him in the solar plexus.

"It is a dangerous job," said Mr. Barker, who holds special affection for a fan who raced to her contestant's seat with such enthusiasm that her tube top fell down. She failed to adjust it for several live minutes.

The audience is largely filled by groups on buses who are guaranteed seats. The rest are fans who line up, often beginning at midnight, for the extra spots, which are doled out on a first-come-first-served basis. Some days there are two, others 200.

For these fans Ted Ott, a clerk at the Farmer's Daughter, gives free workshops each night before tapings (two on Mondays and one Tuesday through Thursday).

Mr. Ott, who lines up on his day off, uses a broken section of a backgammon board to represent the "Price Is Right" studio, and lectures for roughly 40 minutes, in between checking in guests.

He gives the following advice: Do not wear costumes. ("The show's producers have a horror of waking up and finding out they are on 'Let's Make a Deal,' " he said.) Show up on time to get your four-digit line-spot number, and guard it with your life.

If you get a spot in the audience — and are thus granted a 20-second interview with the producer to see if you might be called down — be clever. Don't go to the restroom when people are being called down. If you are thinking of bringing in a cheat sheet on prices, think again, because that is a felony.

But to that quintessential American question: is it worth it? For Sean Steiner, 22, who came from Akron, Ohio, to be the first in line for the show, it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. "I was feet from Bob. He was cracking jokes, telling stories about the ducks who live in his swimming pool during the commercial break. The best part was, I got to come home and watch myself on TV."

With That Saucy Swagger, She Must Drive a Porsche
Benedict Carey

Some people seem a perfect fit for the cars they drive, like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Hummer, Michael Jordan and his Ferrari. Yet most drivers' faces and bearing give away clues that tip off their favored model, a new study has found.

Psychologists at Julius-Maximilians University in Wurzburg, Germany, report in a recent issue of the Journal of Individual Differences that students correctly matched photographs of male and female drivers to pictures of the cars they drove almost 70 percent of the time.

The drivers' age and wealth were the most helpful cues, the researchers reported.

Psychologists had shown in previous studies that people can accurately gauge some personality traits, like extroversion, from photos of strangers, and from personal effects, like a CD collection or bedroom decorations. The German study is the first to demonstrate that clues from both sources can be combined to match owners to their cars, the authors say.

The finding demonstrates how nuanced our habitual, often stereotype-based, judgments can be, said Samuel Gosling, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, who did not take part in the research.

"It is possible that when the traffic light turns green, the tan minivan will race away and the red Corvette will move away slowly, but people don't buy cars randomly, and usually we make accurate assumptions about them," he said.

He added, "We don't just make inferences about the drivers but about their behavior, their music collection, whether they're more likely to listen to jazz or rock, their movie preferences, whether they like romantic comedies or action films."

In the study, the psychologists took photographs, from the waist up, of 60 men and women at a rest stop who agreed to participate in the study. Their cars, also photographed, included luxury models, modest family sedans and compact cars, from BMWs and Audis to Opels, Fords and Volkswagens.

The students looked at 60 sets of three photos, matching one of a driver to one of two car pictures — either the correct one, or one belonging to another driver.

In matching experiments like this, early choices often alter later ones: if you have already found someone to match with a black-cherry Porsche Boxster, you are less likely to pair it with another person later. But because many of the cars were similar in color and model, students' early matches were not likely to alter later ones, the authors said.

The researchers found that 41 pairs, or about 68 percent, were correctly matched by more than half of the students. "Interestingly, it seems to be easier to match people with cars than people with animate beings like dogs. Or people with their babies," concluded the authors, Georg W. Alpers and Antje B. M. Gerdes.

A nearly 70 percent accuracy rate is very high, and partly reflects the significance of two clues in particular — age and apparent affluence, the authors report. Matching older, wealthy-looking drivers to luxury cars and young ones to compacts almost certainly proved a good strategy.

But there is more to the matching than that, other experts said. Scratches, dings and dents in a car suggest one thing about a driver, while a factory polish reflects another. A four-wheel-drive Subaru with a ski rack suggests an active owner — unless the racks appear unused. And people choose cars, within their budget or not, partly to project a public identity, and the public well knows it, Dr. Gosling said.

Moreover, in making judgments, people soak up dozens of clues unconsciously, noting the emotional cast of a person's face in a photo, say, or the style of the hair, the texture of the clothing, the tilt and quality of the eyeglasses.

"We are constantly trying to make sense of the world by picking up clues from the physical and social environment, in order to predict what's going to happen," Dr. Gosling said.

Given the necessity, value and danger of cars — and the cultural connotations of particular models — it is hardly surprising that people are attuned to their social meanings.

TMZ.com Users Post Their Own Views of Gossip
Virginia Heffernan

Lindsay Lohan "shoots out freckles." Mean anything to you?

Yes, that's the bravura insight of Brandon Davis, the fun-loving grandson of Marvin Davis, the billionaire who died in 2004. The young Mr. Davis used this image to describe Ms. Lohan, the redheaded actress, in a short but powerful video that first appeared on TMZ.com, the "entertainment news" — that's gossip — Web site produced by AOL and Telepictures Productions. In the video, which quickly became an Internet hit, Mr. Davis, a pugnacious party boy, hurries importantly to his car while savaging Ms. Lohan, who is nowhere in sight.

The video, which was shot by the paparazzi comer Josh Levine, first appeared on May 17, marking both a high and low point for TMZ.com. In a mere six months of operation, the site has ridden a wave of enthusiasm for online video, attracting links from other gossip sites with its run-and-gun sequences of stars acting stupid. The site covers music, movies, television and industry gossip. It supplies, with occasional glitches, photo essays, copious video and, as of yesterday, blogs. Over the last few months there have been glimpses of the mothering missteps of Britney Spears and interviews with players in the Heather-Denise-Charlie-Richie double-divorce circus.

But the Brandon Davis video offered something new: one Hollywood rich kid baiting another through TMZ video, uncorking invective that was at least imaginative and delivering it to the camera, with none other than Paris Hilton in the role of moll. This was Mr. Davis's mean-spirited, freckled message to the world.

And it wasn't exactly spontaneous: days earlier, outside another Los Angeles club, Mr. Davis had refined his routine in front of another TMZ camera, trying out some of the wacko language that would become the May 17 aria. For connoisseurs of online video, the earlier rant was like a theater workshop.

In any case it doesn't take a high-handed analysis of American celebrity culture to locate the uneasy moral void at the center of this. Certainly the site's avid users are already tuned into what's wrong with it.

Take the responses to a June 9 post by Harvey Levin, the site's managing editor, a lawyer and the former executive producer of the sweet-spot-hitting legal show "Celebrity Justice." On the recently redesigned site, which now appears in blog format, Mr. Levin writes a celebrity chatterbox column called "Mali-bu Hoo Hoo," in which he sets out to walk a thin line drawn by Dominick Dunne: trying to come across as with the stars — at their parties, in their orbits — without being quite of them, kept apart as he is by concerns about justice and fairness.

In the post Mr. Levin shed some light on the real estate concerns of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who returned this weekend from Namibia, where their first child was born. The entry was called "Brad's Weird Malibu Pad," and an aerial photo showed an estate on a beach. It's not really the kind of photo that noncelebrities can easily interpret: it's too abstract and scale-free, with none of the columns or gilt that signify opulence.

Mr. Levin tried to put it in context. "It just so happens, the guy who sold Brad the house is a friend of mine," he wrote. The place has great views, he went on, but the beach and pool are hard to reach, and the place has a mere 3,000 square feet. "That's perfectly fine for you and me," he wrote. But stars need more.

None of this played very well with some readers, who got all what-you-mean-we on Mr. Levin. "It's a nine-million-dollar estate on the Malibu coastline, you moron," wrote one.

At lightning speed the debate became grandiose. Posters defended the humanitarian work performed by Ms. Jolie and Mr. Pitt, and urged people to follow the couple's example in fighting for "a world where everyone is fed, clothed, has shelter, access to education and health care and living a life that they love."

It was kind of astonishing: as environmentalism, philanthropy, saving and debt, trust funds, fame, slave morality and real estate all reared their heads in the fairly literate comments section, it became clear that the house of Brangelina — and Mr. Levin's disingenuous take on it — was as good a subject as any to ignite a great American debate.

TMZ is getting it right. It has lots of video, quickly mounted, intelligently bleeped and edited so it's not horrifying. And it has found a way through smart-enough blogging — Claude Brodesser of NPR is also writing one — to tease out some big themes. It's almost moving. Almost. As a reader named gigi put it in the same Brangelina thread: "You read all this empty trash to entertain your bored soul and then decide to get weepy? HA. That's funny."

Pirate 1: Arrr! The RIAA ship has been swashbuckled!

Pirate 2: Ayye! The fools even think they sunk us! ARRR!

RIAA Chief Says Illegal Song-Sharing 'Contained'
Jefferson Graham

Nearly a year after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling against online music file-sharing services, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America says unauthorized song swapping has been "contained."

"The problem has not been eliminated," says association CEO Mitch Bainwol. "But we believe digital downloads have emerged into a growing, thriving business, and file-trading is flat."

That's an optimistic view from an industry that saw its numbers slide to near oblivion after the launch of the original Napster in 1999. CD sales fell as much as 30%, and the RIAA pressed Congress and the courts for relief against what it said was rampant piracy.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the services could be liable for piracy by their users, the RIAA sent cease-and-desist letters to several firms. Most — including BearShare, WinMX and Grokster — shut down. EDonkey and others said they would switch to a licensed, paid model.

EDonkey, which along with BitTorrent is one of the most-used file-sharing services, has yet to make the switch.

Even with Grokster and WinMX shut down, their software programs still exist. Eric Garland, CEO of Internet measurement firm BigChampagne, says that more people than ever are using file-sharing networks. "Nearly 10 million people are online, swapping media, at any given time," he says. That May figure is up from 8.7 million people in 2005, he says.

Garland says the RIAA has made some inroads. "They have removed the profiteers from online piracy," he says. "They've also embarked on a very successful education campaign. Kids now know about copyright, and the consequences."

The RIAA has sued just over 18,000 individuals for sharing songs online, with 4,500 settling for about $4,000 per case.

Album sales are still down — about 3% this year. But Bainwol says digital sales — up 77% — make up for the shortfall.

The wide availability of legitimate alternatives to file-sharing services has helped wean computer users away, says Russ Crupnick, president of the music group for market tracker NPD Group.

Apple's iTunes has sold more than 1 billion songs to consumers, and online stores Rhapsody and Napster are gaining traction. Crupnick says digital store purchases have "almost doubled" while file-sharing is flat among computer users in 12,000 homes in an NPD survey.

Meanwhile, the RIAA is suing XM Satellite Radio, which introduced a portable $399 player (from Pioneer and Samsung) that lets subscribers record songs.

Bainwol says he doesn't mind consumers acquiring songs on the device — it's just that XM hasn't licensed the songs for download.

"We love the technology and think it's cool, but if you want to be an iTunes clone, you should pay for it," he says. XM has called the RIAA lawsuit a "negotiating" tactic.

About 1.5 billion songs are available for free swapping at any given time on file-sharing networks, says Garland, a mix of current hits and songs from such artists as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin that have yet to be released to the digital music stores.

That number is huge but hasn't grown substantially, while video piracy has. "The music industry isn't seeing double-digit growth in piracy anymore, but Hollywood is," Garland says.

Samsung Ships the First Blu-Ray Player
Dan Costa

The format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD has finally reached consumers, now that Samsung is shipping the BD-P1000 Blu-Ray player to retailers. The BD-P1000 ($999.99 list), will go on sale June 25th, making it the first Blu-Ray player to hit the market. Until now, the only high-definition video player shoppers could buy has been the Toshiba HD-A1, which has been in short supply.

The BD-P1000 is twice the price of the HD-A1, but Jim Sanduski, senior vice president of marketing for Samsung's Audio and Video Products Group, says that won't hurt sales. "Dealer demand is really strong," Sanduski says. "Yes, we are double the price of HD-DVD, but we are confident people will buy as many as we can build."

The Samsung BD-P1000 supports full 1080p playback, something the first generation of HD-DVD players do not. The BD-P1000 also up-converts conventional DVDs to 1080p to improve video quality. The player comes with HDMI, Component, S-video, and composite outputs. Samsung has also included a 10-in-2 multi-memory-card interface for viewing digital images directly from flash cards.

There will be just 10 Blu-Ray titles available when the BD-P100 ships, including 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse, and xXx. Sanduski says by the end of year the number of titles will swell to as many as 200.

This is one area where Blu-Ray could have a potential advantage over HD-DVD. "Eighty-four percent of all the movies released last year were made by studios that have announced support for Blu-Ray," according to Sanduski. "That is a huge strike against HD-DVD." To be fair, some studios plan to release movies on both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

Samsung's BD-P1000 release comes as other Blu-Ray manufactures have pushed back their launch dates. Both Sony and Pioneer initially planned to offer Blu-Ray players in June, but have pushed their U.S. launch dates to August and September, respectively.

Movies on Blu-Ray discs will sell for about $30, according to Sanduski. He compares that to the healthy premium people paid over VHS when DVDs first came out. HD-DVD titles currently sell for about $20.

Sanduski says that the Blu-Ray prices will come down quickly once other manufacturers bring their players to market. "There are nine manufacturers building Blu-Ray devices," according to Sanduski. "There is only one building HD-DVD drives: Toshiba."

The BD-P1000 will be sold at more than 200 retail locations, including Best Buy, Tweeter, and Circuit City.

News Corp.'S MySpace to Solicit Bids for Search

News Corp. said on Tuesday that its MySpace.com Web site plans to tap one of the three leading Internet companies to provide its popular youth-oriented network with search-based advertising.

The global media conglomerate run by Rupert Murdoch plans to solicit bids from Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said at a Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom conference broadcast over the Web.

``We will auction off our search business to Google, Yahoo, or MSN,'' Chernin said, confirming market speculation.

Murdoch has previously said that News Corp. was seeking an investment in the search business. On Tuesday, Chernin said, ''Our instincts are we can't get into the search business in the same way.''

News Corp. purchased MySpace, one of the Internet's biggest online hangouts for teens and young adults, last year for about $580 million.

But despite owning one of the largest customer bases on the Internet, with about 85 million members, it has not fully exploited advertising sales opportunities at the unit, Chernin said. ``We've just scratched the surface of how to monetize it.''

MySpace has become a focus of investor attention for News Corp.'s media empire, which spans the Fox television and cable news networks as well as the New York Post newspaper, even though it remains a tiny part of the company's operations.

The division is being viewed as a testing ground for new media opportunities, particularly efforts to reap advertising dollars from social networking, one of the hottest areas of audience growth online.

Although MySpace has transformed into the second most popular site on the Internet by page views as of May, according to comScore Networks, it continues to trail competitors in ad sales due to the types of ads it currently sells.

About 80 percent of its sales come from so-called remnant sales, or bulk sales of unused advertising space. About 20 percent comes from display ads, which cost about seven to eight-times more, Chernin said.

Chernin said he expects MySpace to flip the ratio over time.

For its well-established Fox television network, Chernin said it has completed 70 percent of its advance ``upfront'' sales to advertisers for the upcoming fall programming season, when its rates are expected to rise about 2 percent to 3 percent.

IT Confidential: Adware Vs. Spyware: Who's Making The Money?

What's the hottest growth area these days? It's the intersection of Technology, Privacy, and The Law.
John Soat

My son is graduating from high school and plans to attend college in the fall. Given the declining interest in the United States in the study of science in general, and computer science and technology in particular, it occurred to me that perhaps I should encourage him to major in information technology. If so, I'd have to make a strong case for it, because the appeal of such interesting and rewarding careers as celebrity bodyguard or cable-TV chef is strong these days. I started casting about for examples of career-oriented areas in IT.

I received a note recently about a job posting on Craigslist that reads, "seeking an individual with an interest in technology, privacy, and the law." If there's a growth area related to technology these days, it's privacy. The company sponsoring this job posting is called WhenU.com. The posting gave a general description of the job's responsibilities: "This person will be a critical member of the company's efforts to monitor how its products are detected and treated by various anti-spyware vendors. This individual will run a wide range of anti-spyware products and document the treatment of WhenU's products as well as its competitors."

InformationWeek recently ran a profile of the CEO of WhenU, Bill Day, and referred to his company as a "'good' adware purveyor that wins praise, not jeers, from industry pundits" ("Bill Day, CEO Of WhenU.com," May 1,). Now, the distinction between spyware and adware is tricky; one person's automated service is another person's interloper. There's been a great deal of litigation over it. Legislation in Congress has stalled, in part over an adequate definition of spyware. When I tried to visit WhenU's Web site to find out more, the corporate Internet filter wouldn't let me go there: "The Websense category 'Spyware' is filtered."

A light went off in my head--this company has issues. I began to wonder if I should encourage my son to put his college plans on hold and apply for this position immediately. It's an exciting opportunity, dead center in several of today's most pressing technology issues--the nature of the online experience, the Internet business model, the responsibility of companies to their customers. And it might be a good fit. "The ideal candidate will be extremely familiar with anti-spyware products and downloadable software," reads the posting. If a hard-earned proficiency in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas comes close to fitting that description, my son is extremely well qualified

Then I noticed this: "Full-time at $12/hour." When I was 18, $12 an hour was a lot of money, but would it be enough to entice my son? The bigger issue: Would he be able to move out of the house on less than $25,000 a year? Probably, but did I really want to take that chance?

So maybe college isn't such a bad idea after all. I hate to say it, but I think I'll encourage him to set his sights on law school. Technology is still an interesting and exciting field, but the lawyers end up with all the money, anyway.

Peter, Paul & Mary Still Have a Song to Sing All Over This Land
Felicia R. Lee

For many years Mary Travers thought of her songs with the trio Peter, Paul & Mary as carrier pigeons, ferrying messages of love, hope and defiance. When Ms. Travers was told she had leukemia in 2004 and rolled bad survival odds, those pigeons fluttered back to her, bearing best wishes in the form of 10,000 e-mail messages. They came from fans who recalled the trio's classic renditions of songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and "If I Had a Hammer."

"I didn't think my prayers would get me out of the soup, but it doesn't mean everybody else's prayers didn't do it," Ms. Travers, now 69, said in a recent interview. "I read every one of those e-mails. You can look at record sales and say it sold eight million and eight million loved your music. But the messages, they meant something; it nails you into the now, people right now week after week caring about my getting better."

Ms. Travers had a bone marrow transplant last year and resumed a reduced schedule of 12 concerts with Peter, Paul & Mary this year. Tomorrow the trio, together for 46 years (with a few years' hiatus), will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan. Ms. Travers and the other members, Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, say they are thankful for the award, but they are quick to add that awards and record sales are not how they define themselves.

"I don't think we've changed very much, certainly not in the intent of our work," Ms. Travers said. "The intention has always been to talk about justice, to talk about peace, to talk about equality."

Although many of their hits were traditional folk songs or the work of writers like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, Ms. Travers said she sees the award as an honor especially for Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey, who did "the heavy bulk of the songwriting" for much of the group's original work.

"I've always been the editor, the one-liner," Ms. Travers said of the writing process. "I helped when it was almost there."

Among her favorite songs by Mr. Yarrow or Mr. Stookey are "The Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life)" by Mr. Yarrow, co-writer of "Puff the Magic Dragon," and Mr. Stookey's "Wedding Song (There Is Love)."

Peter, Paul & Mary brought folk music to a new prominence in the post-McCarthy era, putting songs about politics and morality on the radio amid the syrupy boy-girl love songs that dominated when their first album came out in 1962. They have five Grammy Awards and a handful of gold and platinum albums. As for some criticism that they were overrehearsed or even a manufactured act, Ms. Travers dismissed that as the words of people who equate success with selling out.

Hal David, the songwriter who is now chairman and chief executive of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, said the award was about more than songwriting. "They did so many songs that have become national standards," he said.

"The fact that they did or did not write some of the songs doesn't take away from them," Mr. David added. "The lifetime achievement award is not necessarily just for writing; it's just the whole, beautiful package they became. The fact that Mary came back from her illness and still sounds so good is wonderful."

These days Ms. Travers's thoughts turn to much more than music. In conversation, she mused on mortality and the trio's long relationship.

"I think I scared the boys," Ms. Travers said of her ordeal, referring to Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey, who are both 68. "I think of them as my brothers." She was sitting in Mr. Yarrow's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where her husband, Ethan Robbins ("I call him St. Ethan"), often stayed while she was being treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Said Mr. Yarrow said of the cancer scare, "In our case, every little bit of nonsense between us disappeared."

Mr. Stookey, in a telephone interview from his home along the Maine coast, said the three are close friends who have become closer. "Looking back at some of the film footage from 46 years, I was incredibly impressed by Mary's power on stage," he said. "You see how edgy it is, and she said in private conversations later that some of it was nervousness. Since the leukemia, there is a graciousness, a sense of the serene, a patience you never saw before."

Ms. Travers looks different, too. She lost 60 pounds and her now-short hair has a slight wave, a very different look from her trademark curtain of straight blond hair. "I've discovered this great jewelry: earrings," she joked. "No one ever saw my ears before."

The cancer diagnosis came quickly, she recalled. When chemotherapy did not work, she waited for a bonemarrow transplant. It turned out that her donor was named Mary and, like Ms. Travers, had two daughters. Ms. Travers, a lifetime Democrat, joked with her family that she wondered if a Republican's marrow had save her body. She learned that this was indeed true when she called the other Mary to thank her.

Ms. Travers, who was 26 when the trio sang during the March on Washington in 1963, still sounds like her old political self. She says she is upset by, among other things, changes in the immigration laws, domestic eavesdropping, the Iraq war and efforts to ban abortion; and disappointed that artists are not fighting the powers-that-be with the same zeal as they did in the 60's and 70's.

"Do we have to rely on the Dixie Chicks?" she asked.

Still, she, Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey see hope in a fresh wave of political and artistic energy in folk music. Mr. Yarrow, for one, says he is ecstatic that Bruce Springsteen is reinterpreting Pete Seeger songs from the Peter, Paul & Mary era.

"It's great," Mr. Yarrow exclaimed. "He always was a folk singer. He always had it in his heart. Of all the people who had the legitimacy to do it, he does."

After all these years of the precise enunciation of folk music, Ms. Travers now prefers "nonverbal music" or even, as she put it, "a little schmaltzy opera." She added that when she is not thinking about politics, she is pretty happy.

"I'm certainly not upset about getting older," she said. "Having come closer to the other alternative, I am a lot better about it."

Embracing Digital Era, PBS Hires John Boland of KQED to Fill New Post
Elizabeth Jensen

Staking its future in the digital media world, the Public Broadcasting Service has created a new post of chief content officer and named a public broadcasting executive with extensive digital experience to fill the job.

John Boland, 57, is currently the executive vice president and chief content officer at KQED Public Broadcasting in San Francisco, which operates the PBS and National Public Radio stations in Northern California. KQED was one of the first PBS stations to have multiple digital channels to make its shows available at different times, and it was also one of the first to offer its shows on demand, through its Web site and in podcasts.

At PBS Mr. Boland, who starts in September, will oversee television programming, new media, education and promotion. As part of a restructuring, PBS will close its small Los Angeles office. Jacoba Atlas, one of PBS's chief programming executives, who is based there, will leave PBS at the end of this month. John Wilson, who with Ms. Atlas had been overseeing PBS programming and is based at PBS's headquarters in Arlington, Va., will now report to Mr. Boland.

Ms. Atlas said in an interview that she did not know what she would do next, and called it "a privilege to have been able to deal with content that is as exceptional" as that of PBS.

Mr. Boland's appointment is one of the first strategic moves by Paula A. Kerger, who took over as PBS's president and chief executive officer in March. In recent weeks she has announced an agreement to make available more PBS shows through free video-on-demand services, as well as a new partnership to offer hundreds of hours of PBS programs to schools, through Discovery Education's digital learning services.

In an interview Ms. Kerger cited "Quest," KQED's ambitious new science, nature and environment initiative, as an example of what PBS can aspire to. Under Mr. Boland's direction, KQED raised $7.5 million to pay for the first three years of "Quest," which will begin in the fall. The station's most expensive local undertaking ever, it will include weekly television and radio shows, a content-rich Web site with games and nature center tours that can be downloaded to personal portable devices, educational lesson plans that meet California teacher standards and community organization and museum tie-ins. All the broadcast material will be archived and available on demand after it is first shown.

The new digital world is "made to order" for PBS programming, Mr. Boland said in an interview. "We have content that has a very long shelf life and very long value because it was so well researched," he said. Because PBS programming doesn't rely on advertising for support, he added, it doesn't matter whether a viewer sees it when it is first broadcast or an educator accesses it 10 years later.

But PBS, a consortium of 348 local public stations, has to figure out how to make the transition from a program service that is still primarily used in a linear fashion, he said. Viewers, Mr. Boland said, "are still watching 'Nova' on Tuesday night and watching 'The NewsHour' at 6, and we need to continue to serve that majority of the public," while experimenting with all the new distribution outlets.

PBS and its stations must also find the money to finance the transition and experimentation.

Financing has been a continuing challenge at public television for the last decade, as corporate underwriters have cut back support of programming, colleges and universities have started forcing the stations they run to pick up overhead costs, and lawmakers at the state and federal levels have tried to cut government financing, often successfully.

Mr. Boland, a former newspaper reporter who has been at KQED since 1995, said that Ms. Kerger, previously the No. 2 executive at the parent company of WNET and WLIW in New York, came to PBS with "more experience in fund-raising than any of her predecessors." PBS has started a new foundation to raise money, and Mr. Boland said he hoped that would be one source of financing for new digital initiatives.

Ms. Kerger said Mr. Boland would also be reassessing PBS's programming, not to make wholesale changes, but to think about new directions. "I would like him to think hard about how do we make our iconic work even better and bring new stuff onto the schedule," she said. PBS is already looking for new science programming, and Ms. Kerger said she would "love for us to think about the arts again."

Dig it

AOL to Revamp Its Netscape.com Web Portal
Anick Jesdanun

AOL is revamping its Netscape.com Web portal to give visitors a greater role in determining what news articles get readily shown to others.

Visitors will be able to submit links to neat articles they find elsewhere and vote on the ones they like most. The items receiving the most votes will appear on the home page as well as in separate sections focusing on technology, food and other topics.

The effort comes as the Time Warner Inc. Internet unit attempts to boost traffic to its ad-supported Web sites as its access-subscription business declines.

The new Netscape portal is scheduled to launch July 1, with a public "beta" test available beginning Thursday.

Because AOL also runs AOL.com, it can experiment with its less-trafficked Netscape.com site.

According to comScore Media Metrix, Netscape had 12.3 million U.S. visitors in April, compared with 128 million for Yahoo Inc.'s portal, 102 million for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and 87.0 for AOL.com. News Corp.'s MySpace.com and Lycos Inc.'s portal also had more traffic than Netscape.

Jason Calacanis, general manager for Netscape, said the voter choices may also appear on other AOL properties. For instance, while the top articles on autos would be central to Netscape's auto channel, the same list could appear as part of AOL.com's auto section and the AOL-owned Autoblog Web journal.

The articles themselves won't necessarily be stored on AOL computers. Rather, visitors who submit links are directed to write a summary that would appear on the Netscape page. Readers can get the full article by clicking on a link to the original site.

The outside articles appear as frames within the Netscape site, a technique over which major news organizations had sued a small news referral site in the mid-90s. The site, called TotalNews, stopped that practice as part of a settlement.

Calacanis said Netscape shouldn't run into similar problems because its site won't carry ads on the pages using frames.

The redesign is Netscape's first major one since early 2005, when the portal introduced features that heavily used Flash animation technology in response to growing adoption of high-speed Internet lines (many of those features since have been quietly dropped).

Netscape.com will still have links to weather, e-mail and other features commonly associated with portals, but they will not be as prominent.

The portal also will have some items hand-picked, vetted and in many cases amplified with original reporting by AOL staff, but they will be drawn from the user-voted pool.

That will set Netscape.com apart from digg.com and other sites that engage in what Calacanis called "social news" - tapping the collective wisdom of a community to uncover items that might otherwise be hard to find. Placement of stories on the other sites are entirely up to users.

Netscape, which AOL acquired in 1999 primarily for its once-dominant Web browser, also will add a social networking feature. Users will be able to designate fellow users as friends and see what they've submitted and voted for.

Yahoo also is introducing user-voted items as part of a redesign, but the new Yahoo Pulse feature remains a small section of the overall home page.

Pastoral Site of Historic Inventions Faces the End
Antoinette Martin

The Bell Labs building in Holmdel, N.J., the site of technology inventions for 44 years, will be demolished.

For 44 years, a six-story, two-million-square-foot structure nestled here in a 472-acre exquisitely pastoral setting was a habitat for technological ferment.

The vaunted Bell Labs, whose scientists invented the laser and developed fiber optic and satellite communications, touch-tone dialing and cellphones, modems and microwaves, was housed in the glass building, set far off the road, providing the community with some luster — not to mention a tax bonanza.

These days, the building's lobby, with its magnificent glass ceiling, is off limits to all but those having formal appointments with Lucent Technologies, which disassembled and dispersed much of Bell Labs after the collapse of the technology market in 2000.

Few outsiders have viewed its breathtaking scale or walked along the perimeters to admire displays of technological breakthroughs like a 1929 movie camera or an early office switchboard straight out of "Bells Are Ringing."

But now, the building has been sold, and the public will be invited in for at least one date while it remains, which may not be much longer. The developer who will create a future for the property says the structure will have to be demolished.

Preferred Real Estate Investments, a company based in Conshohocken, Pa., will maintain the site as office space and will keep the property as pastoral as possible, said its chief executive, Michael G. O'Neill. But Mr. O'Neill said his firm, which specializes in the reuse of outmoded commercial buildings, simply could not find a way to renovate this structure.

The soaring lobby is surrounded on three sides by stacks of windowless concrete-walled cubicles — perfect for scientists, but unappealing to office workers of any other type — he noted.

"So many of these lavish old commercial buildings have a great history to them, and then one day their useful life is over," Mr. O'Neill said a bit wistfully.

When Lucent found itself needing to downsize and leave a special building behind, it was following in the footsteps of another New Jersey telecommunications giant, AT&T, which moved out of its opulent 2.7-million-square-foot headquarters in Bedminster in 2001. The AT&T building stood empty for four years — considered nearly unmarketable by some commercial brokers. It did find a buyer last year in Verizon, which has begun renovations aimed at carving up its gargantuan spaces and stripping away some of the luxuries, like the waterfall in the cafeteria.

At one time, Lucent employed 5,600 people in Holmdel. The company plans to move the approximately 1,000 who remain to offices in Murray Hill and Whippany by the summer of 2007.

Right now, Mr. O'Neill said his primary focus was on providing reassurance to the citizenry of Holmdel that not much has to change in terms of the Lucent property's historic impact on the town.

Bell Labs has been a cash cow in a picturesque setting — paying $3.19 million in property taxes last year, while putting little strain on town services. Holmdel's mayor, Serena DiMaso, and other town officials have been adamant that a housing development, which might require additional traffic control, new infrastructure and school spending, would not be a suitable replacement.

"I think there were about 20 other developers competing against us to buy the property," Mr. O'Neill said, "and everybody we competed with wanted to put 500 to 600 houses here, and turn this into a big subdivision, but that is not our intent.

"Can you imagine? This incredible, expansive space — cutting it up, and covering it over with yet another cookie-cutter community of McMansions?"

Mr. O'Neill, whose company recently converted a pre-World War I toilet factory in Hamilton, N.J., into plush office space, said plans for the Lucent site were in very early stages. It is expected, he said, that a public meeting about the property will be held inside the Bell Labs structure during the last week of this month.

On a walking tour of the property, Mr. O'Neill said he currently envisioned three smaller headquarters-type buildings in place of the one big lab structure, providing somewhat less total space than the Bell Labs building. "The size would be in keeping with the more modest size of today's typical company headquarters, or data processing centers," he said.

Final plans will not be drawn until companies commit to moving to the site, Mr. O'Neill said.

The huge oval road around the building, the long approach from Crawford's Corner Road and even the weirdly shaped water tower at the entrance — said by locals to resemble a transistor — will most likely remain, though, Mr. O'Neill asserted. "We want to keep the country-road feel," he said.

Diving enthusiastically through thick shrubbery, Mr. O'Neill made his way to a lovely pond set behind Bell Labs, surrounded by plantings and weeping willows and adjacent to a large terrace off the company cafeteria.

"This is such a special place for a company to offer its workers," he said. "There is hardly anything like this available anywhere any more. We believe people will be beating down the doors to move their businesses here."

Founded in 1992, Preferred owns numerous properties east of the Mississippi, worth a total of more than $1.5 billion, that were once central to communities but are now vacant or heading that way, according to Mr. O'Neill.

At the former American Standard plant in Hamilton, for instance, the company pledged to tastefully renovate the empty toilet factory and fill it with high-quality tenants, and it kept its promises, said the mayor, Glen Gilmore. Last month, with that job complete, Preferred sold the property, now called American Metro Center, to two other large real estate companies.

Mr. O'Neill said he had no idea whether his company would be the long-term owner in Holmdel. "Please!" he said, laughing and throwing up his hands. "We've got a lot of work to do here and now."

Still waters

The Rewards of Being Shy
Michael Hochman

Shy people may be quiet, but there's a lot going on in their heads. When they encounter a frightening or unfamiliar situation--meeting someone new, for example--a brain region responsible for negative emotions goes into overdrive. But new research indicates that shy people may be more sensitive to all sorts of stimuli, not just frightening ones.

The findings come courtesy of brain scans of 13 extremely shy adolescents and 19 outgoing ones. Researchers, led by Amanda Guyer, a development psychologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, placed each child in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine and had them play games in which they could win or lose money. The study subjects--who were classified as either shy or outgoing based on psychological testing--were instructed to press a button as quickly as possible after being shown a signal. If they pressed the button in time, they won money, or at least prevented themselves from losing it.

Both groups performed similarly, and there was no difference in the activity of their amygdalas--the brain region that governs fear. Shy children, however, showed two to three times more activity in their striatum, which is associated with reward, than outgoing children, the team reports in the 14 June issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. "Up until now, people thought that [shyness] was mostly related to avoidance of social situations," says co-author and child psychiatrist Monique Ernst. "Here we showed that shy children have increased activity in the reward system of the brain as well."

Why this would be the case is still not clear. "One interpretation is that extremely shy children have an increased sensitivity to many types of stimuli--both frightening and rewarding," says Guyer. There are other possibilities as well, says Mauricio Delgado, a psychologist at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. For example, increased activity in the striatum may help shy children cope with the anxiety of stressful situations, although not enough so to help them overcome their shyness.

These findings are also significant because they may help researchers understand why shy children develop psychiatric problems at an increased rate later in life, says Brian Knutson, a psychologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Because shy children appear to be more sensitive to winning and losing, they may experience emotions more strongly than others, putting them at risk for emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. On the flip side, shy children may experience positive emotions such as success very strongly, helping them succeed, Knutson says.

Movie Review

'A/K/A Tommy Chong,' a Documentary About the Comedian and the Law
Manohla Dargis

On Feb. 24, 2003, the nation's newspaper headlines provided a snapshot of the way we live now. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was in China that day, talking to the country's leaders about North Korea and the looming war in Iraq. A United Nations representative to Afghanistan was issuing dire warnings about that country's fragile peace. The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was threatening to arrest the leaders of a national strike; meanwhile, representatives from the Ivory Coast were in Paris trying to negotiate peace.

That same morning, in the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood Pacific Palisades, more than a dozen members of the Drug Enforcement Administration were giving the comedian Tommy Chong (né Thomas B. Kin Chong) and his wife, Shelby, a very rude awakening. A nationwide federal investigation, code-named Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter, had just gone public and, as recounted in the documentary "a/k/a Tommy Chong," was about to rock the couple's world. More than 100 homes and businesses were raided that day, and 55 people were named in indictments, charged with trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia — meaning, for the most part, what teenagers, hippies, rappers, Deadheads, cancer patients and many millions of other regular pot smokers commonly refer to as bongs.

Mr. Chong, half of the famous stoner comedy team Cheech and Chong, was not indicted that morning. But his family's business, Chong Glass, which manufactured a line of colorful hand-blown bongs under the name Nice Dreams (after one of the comedy duo's flicks), was raided. The company had been the brainchild of the Chongs' son Paris, who made sure he and the rest of the employees were familiar with laws regulating what are euphemistically called tobacco pipes. Even so, the company succumbed to one eager head-shop owner in Beaver Falls, Pa., who — as we hear in a tape played in the documentary — really, really wanted to buy some Nice Dreams pipes. That dude turned out to be a federal agent.

Months later Tommy Chong, who had never been arrested in his life, pleaded guilty. Subsequently, on Sept. 11, 2003, he was sentenced to nine months in jail; it was the harshest sentence that would come out of this particular chapter in the government's continuing War on Drugs. "The defendant has become wealthy throughout his entertainment career through glamorizing the illegal distribution and use of marijuana," wrote one of the prosecutors in papers filed with the court. "Feature films that he made with his longtime partner Cheech Marin, such as 'Up in Smoke,' trivialize law enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and use."

The film "a/k/a Tommy Chong" tells the depressing, often ridiculous and generally enraging story of how and why Mr. Chong, an extremely laid-back and genial camera presence, ended up doing time in the minimum-security Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. Written and directed by Josh Gilbert, a friend of the comedian, the 78-minute film taps a number of experts and supporters to fill out the larger story, including Eric Schlosser, the author of "Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market." Mr. Schlosser provides the film a much-needed dollop of historical and political context, while friends and colleagues like Lou Adler, the music impresario who directed Cheech and Chong's 1978 film "Up in Smoke," along with Bill Maher and Jay Leno, lend more emotional and outraged support.

"With the advent of the Internet, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has exploded," said Attorney General John Ashcroft the day agents came knocking at Tommy and Shelby Chong's door. "This illegal billion-dollar industry will no longer be ignored by law enforcement." As Mr. Gilbert pointedly notes in his film, when Mr. Ashcroft resigned in November 2004, he released another statement. This one read, in part, that "the objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." By that time Tommy Chong was out of jail and working again, appearing in a play about pot and making plans to return to the television series "That 70's Show," on which he played — what else? — an old hippie with nice dreams.

Dell: Facing Up To Past Mistakes
Louise Lee

Dell's laser focus on cost efficiency has long been a core strategy. But like Home Depot, Dell's cost-cutting efforts have alienated its customers. The "direct" sales model of selling computers to consumers via phone and the Internet eliminates the costs of shipping to stores and tracking inventory. But outsiders say that mentality also leads to moves that almost seem designed to put customers last. Dell, for instance, staffs some customer service call centers with fewer than 500 workers. A center that small is almost guaranteed to be frequently overwhelmed.

Enter Richard L. "Dick" Hunter, Dell's new head of customer service. If he has his way, workers in the company's call centers will soon have a colored flag to raise when they run into trouble helping a customer. When the flag goes up, a supervisor will come running to help out. It's an idea Hunter cribbed from Dell's computer factories, where an assembler can raise a similar alarm. "In the factory, if there's a problem, he flicks on a light and the next-level [builder] comes running," says Hunter. In the call center, "why not do the same?"

An eight-year veteran who made his reputation overseeing Dell's legendarily efficient assembly plants, Hunter is remarkably candid about how hard it will be to turn things around. In 2005, Dell's customer satisfaction rating fell 6.3% to a score of 74 in the Michigan ranking, the steepest decline in the industry. Analysts say poor service is complicating the $56 billion Round Rock (Tex.) giant's struggle to get back on the growth path. Competitors have matched its prices, rolled out aggressive marketing campaigns, and raised their own service levels. In the U.S. consumer market, Dell's first-quarter share fell to 28% from 31%, according to researcher IDC. "Dell has to repair its reputational damage," says Jason Maxwell, an analyst at TCW Group, which owns about 25 million Dell shares.

Hunter thinks the solution is to treat the call center like a factory. Now, many call center reps are trained to solve only one type of problem -- say, a hardware glitch on a Dimension desktop. That explains why it's so common for the agent who answers a call to have to transfer it in search of a techie with the right expertise. Hunter estimates that almost 45% of calls to Dell require at least one transfer. "That's terrible," he says. "It's like delivering materials to the wrong factory 45% of the time." Last year, to discourage people from calling at all, Dell removed the toll-free service number from its Web site, a move that Hunter says "falls into the stupid category." It put the number back a couple of weeks ago.

Just as each Dell factory worker is trained to assemble different types of computer models, Hunter plans to train the phone reps in fixing more types of machines. That's supposed to increase the likelihood that the first person who answers a call will be able to help.

Dell long ago found the optimal size for its factories. Now, Hunter intends to do the same for call centers. He plans to expand small centers to house 1,000 to 3,000 reps. That should boost the chances that any caller's problem can be solved by someone within the building. In the next six weeks, Dell will install large monitors to let workers see the number of callers who are on hold. Hunter will have access to each board from his desk so the centers will know, he says, that "Big Brother is watching." Dell points to some progress. The dismal on-hold experience has improved markedly since its November nadir. During a week in May, aided by recent service hires, only 80 people waited more than 30 minutes for an answer.

But can frustrated people be handled like so many widgets in a factory? Customers aren't so easily standardized. The bigger question, though, is whether Dell has the stomach for investing in better service. It plans to spend more than $100 million this year on the effort, far more than it spent last year, when its expenses were 9% of sales, compared with 13% for Apple and Hewlett-Packard. Hunter believes his effort will ultimately pay for itself by boosting sales. But in the meantime, as analyst Maxwell points out, "It sure doesn't help Dell make its quarterly numbers."

Gates to Cede Software Reins
John Markoff and Steve Lohr

Three decades after he started Microsoft with the dream of placing a personal computer in every home and business, Bill Gates said Thursday that he would leave his day-to-day role there in two years.

He will shift his energies to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which his Microsoft fortune has made the world's largest philanthropic organization, dedicated to health and education issues, especially in poor nations.

At a news conference after the close of the stock market, Mr. Gates, 50, said he was not leaving Microsoft altogether. He said he planned to remain as chairman and maintain his large holding in the company.

"I always see myself as being the largest shareholder in Microsoft," Mr. Gates said.

But the move, analysts said, points to the changes sweeping the software industry. Probably more than any other person, Mr. Gates has been identified with personal computer software, while the center of gravity in computing is increasingly shifting to the Internet.

"I think we'll look back at this day as the separation between two eras in software — the first being software in a box, and the second software distributed over the Internet for free and funded by advertising," said George F. Colony, chief executive of Forrester Research. "The new era requires a complete re-examination of Microsoft's business model, which has been one of most profitable the world has ever seen."

Mr. Gates's college classmate and business partner of 26 years, Steven A. Ballmer, also 50, will remain chief executive of the company. He assumed that post in 2000, with Mr. Gates remaining engaged in the daily operation with the title of chief software architect.

Mr. Ballmer emphasized in an interview that Mr. Gates would give the preponderance of his time to Microsoft during the two-year transition.

But the transition will begin immediately, Mr. Gates said, with his role as chief software architect taken over by Ray Ozzie, 50, one of the company's three chief technical officers. Mr. Ozzie, whose software background includes the conception of Lotus Notes in the 1980's, joined Microsoft last year and has been leading its strategic response to the growing Internet challenge the software company faces from companies like Google and Yahoo.

Mr. Gates said that he and Mr. Ballmer had begun discussing a transition some time ago, but that a decision had been made only in the last few weeks. He noted that he had deferred telling Mr. Ballmer of his decision several times, and that his wife, Melinda, a former Microsoft product manager, had reminded him to communicate with his business partner on several occasions.

"I talked with her even before I talked to Steve about this possibility," Mr. Gates said. "I got her advice. For a couple of weeks she said, 'Have you mentioned it to Steve yet?' I said, 'No, it wasn't easy to bring up today, maybe I'll bring it up tomorrow.' "

He said his primary motivation was a desire to spend more time on the issues that he has decided to attack with his foundation, whose resources will continue to swell as Mr. Gates makes good on his commitment to shift most of his fortune, said to be around $50 billion. He remains the largest single shareholder in Microsoft, with 9.6 percent of the stock, a stake currently worth $21.6 billion.

But his decision to begin scaling back at Microsoft comes at a critical juncture for the company, a dominant force in the computing world for a quarter-century. Although revenues are at record levels and the company's profits are running at a stunning $1 billion a month, Wall Street has grown increasingly critical of Microsoft's inability to make significant headway in new markets as diverse as video games, Internet television and Web advertising.

The company's stock has fallen from a high of $28.38 in the last year to close at $22.07 on Thursday. The share price peaked at $58.89 in December 1999. The Gates announcement sent the share price down slightly in after-hours trading.

At the news conference, Mr. Gates spoke about his emotional commitment to the company that he created with Paul G. Allen in New Mexico in 1975, initially selling software stored as punched holes in paper tape to the first generation of personal computer hobbyists.

Microsoft became a dominant force in computing shortly after I.B.M. picked the company, by then based in Bellevue, Wash., to provide the principal operating system for the I.B.M. PC in 1981. In the next decade Mr. Gates, aided by Mr. Ballmer, built a software monopoly by adding a growing array of programs bundled together into a single product called Office.

"When Paul Allen and I started this 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software," Mr. Gates said Thursday at the news conference, held in a television studio on the company's corporate campus here. "I have no doubt that over the next 30 years that Microsoft will play just as important a role as it has over the last 30 years."

Even Mr. Gates's competitors described his role as pivotal in shaping the PC era and transforming modern computing.

"Bill Gates redefined the software industry and redefined the computer industry," said Rob Glaser, a former Microsoft executive who is now a competitor at RealNetworks, a Seattle-based Internet services company. "His retirement from a full-time role is a huge milestone, and it marks the end of this era."

Still to be determined is how quickly Mr. Gates will depart the computer industry stage. As the chairman, he will remain the face of Microsoft to the outside world, giving speeches and visiting customers.

"And he'll still be involved in all the large business decisions," said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "So the structure will change, but whether the outcomes will be different remains to be seen."

As part of the realignment, the company elevated a second chief technical officer, Craig J. Mundie, 56, who will be given the title of chief research and strategy officer. Working with Mr. Gates during the transition, he will take over responsibility for the company's research and product development efforts.

Since both Mr. Mundie and Mr. Ozzie are contemporaries of Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Gates, analysts did not see the moves as designating a future chief executive.

The shift follows a September 2005 change in which Mr. Ballmer reorganized the company into three divisions, focused on operating systems, the Office product group and an entertainment and hardware business.

Mr. Gates took pains Thursday to minimize his role at Microsoft, saying that the company could innovate and continue to lead in the software industry despite his diminished presence.

"The world has had a tendency to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on me," he said. "In reality, Microsoft has had an unbelievable breadth and depth of technical talent."
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/te... tner=homepage

Our Beliefs

Another Sky Press

We want people to read our books, even if they read them for free. This isn’t anything revolutionary - unless your local librarian is a subversive of the highest order.

To best accomplish this goal we release all of our novels online for free (Click is our first, but more are soon to follow). Because we know how good ‘real’ books feel in your hands, we also price our trade-paperbacks via a sliding scale system in which the base price is the cost for us to ship you a book (we don’t make a penny) and you set the final price by choosing what you’d like to contribute (if anything) to the creative team behind it (most of which goes to the author). You can’t ever be ripped off. We call this pro-artist, pro-audience system neo-patronage.

There are a whole bunch of reasons we are doing this. Some of them are idealistic (we trust people!). Some of them are economic (we want everyone to be able to afford our books!). Some of them are philosophical (we believe it is a better system!). Some of them are technological (flow with technology, don’t fight it!).

But really, it comes down to something very simple: I sat down and tried to figure out a system of commerce that was as ‘pure’ as possible. One free of greed. One that gave as many people as possible the ability to be a part of it, whether as artist or audience. One which allowed the artists who excelled to be compensated and thus continue to create art. And this system of neo-patronage is what I came up with. Is it perfect? Will it work? Questions, questions, and there’s no way to know the answers until it’s been tried. And so I am, with the help and dedication of others who want to see this system thrive.

(one - it makes sense)

Technology changes the world, whether people want it to or not. The printing press, the telephone and the car have all re-mapped the world. New technologies can bring down kings and churches, can restructure our lives right in front of our eyes. One thing is certain - we are no longer tied to traditional means of distribution (case in point, when was the last time a milkman delivered to your door?)

Rather than fight technology, we’ve decided to flow with it. Rather than ‘protect’ our ‘intellectual property’ with DRM and other consumer-unfriendly practices, we’re offering it all for free. Rather than fight against P2P and related technologies, we’ll embrace them.

Which, of course, leaves that one burning question: how does the artist get paid? We think the answer is something along the lines of neo-patronage, and we’re willing to put our money, time, and effort where our mouth is.

(two - the audience is the sole arbitrator of value)

We believe it would be better if individuals could decide the value of art after they experience it, not before. Few people, if any, would buy a painting sight unseen. Yet most of us often purchase music, films and books at a fixed price before we even know if the ‘product’ is actually any good. As a result we’ve created a market where we often support creativity based on the quality of the hype, not the quality of the actual creation. This in turn has lead to a downturn in quality because the bottom line doesn’t care whether or not you liked the movie/book/cd - you’ve already spent your money. There is little incentive to create better content when the industry knows they can simply hype the next half-assed thing that comes along.

Consider what people spend on music, films and books that they end up disliking. If this money weren’t wasted on inferior material, the collective audience would have more to spend on the artists that they love. The arts would flourish because money would be properly distributed to artists based on quality instead of filling the coffers of the already rich non-creators that control the hype industry.

(three - art for all)

Art should be for all, not for those who can afford it. Contribute when you can, if you can. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t contribute to every artist who you’ve enjoyed. Instead, be proud to contribute at a level that is comfortable to you both ethically and financially. If you have the means, by all means go above and beyond and generously support a few artists to ensure they can continue to create new work.

(four - support the artist)

There are some great, artist-friendly distributors around (CD Baby is a perfect example) but for the most part the culture industry is stacked against the artist. The perils of the music industry are well known, but the book publishing industry can be just as bad, if not worse.

We believe the money should go to the artist, not obsolete middle men hanging on to antiquated distribution paradigms. Period.

(five - dreams come true)

We believe this will work.

(in conclusion)

The corporations that currently have a strangle hold on our culture are not equipped for the impact of technology. They can not and will not adapt, for their profit lies in the realm of control and information consolidation, not freedom and information dissemination. We have the opportunity to reclaim our culture and we need to take it.

We believe a better system is for the audience to be under the honor system to contribute to those artists who have enriched their lives and to shun those who have wasted their time.

This is why we at Another Sky Press provide the entirety of our works online for free. We make no demands on our audience, we simply request that if you enjoy what we offer you that you show this via contributing to our authors or directly to us. We believe in you, and we can only hope you believe in us.

Read more on neo-patronage.

Embrace the future.

Support that which you love.

Thank you for reading,
Another Sky Press


Until next week,

- js.

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