June 13, 2007Last week the Daily Mail reported on the advent of a new technology that uses electromagnetic induction to transfer energy wirelessly across spans of up to 3 meters.
But this new invention isn't new, and don't say that Ayn Rand already thought of it! Rand didn't pull the idea of wireless power from thin air, but took the inspiration for Gault's Motor from the work of many scientists studying power transfer in the later 19th and early 20th century. The most famous of of these electrical pioneers was...
June 13, 2007The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a story published by the Associate Press last week, says that Apple's new DRM-Free tracks available through iTunes are raising new privacy concerns. That's because although DRM (Digital Rights Managment) has been removed from the songs, making it easier to move them between multiple music players and computers, Apple does include customer names and account information in the digital music music files they sell.
Privacy advocates claim that by embedding customer names and account info into songs that it exposes to a greater risk of theft of that private information. However, the only way in which only these music files could be copied or otherwise examined would be through illegal file sharing. Attacks on a system that allowed access to music...
June 11, 2007Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had come out against a complaint leveled by Google against Microsoft alleging anti-competitive behavior. Stephan Labaton of the Times described this move as, "The most striking recent example of the policy shift." The shift that Labton refers to is the shift away from the proposed breaking up of Microsoft, the world's largest software publisher, that started with an antitrust lawsuit brought against the Redmond, Washington-based giant in 1998.
The Times piece goes on to point out that the Justice Department's...
June 5, 2007Google, the company turned into a common verb, has come under fire recently because of the fear that many have of the potential misuse of the troves of data piling up at the ol' Googleplex. Although these fears aren't totally irrational, I recently pointed out in CEI's tech newsletter C:\Spin (C-SPAN for nerds) that Google and other similar companies do a great job of handling our data. Moreover, they do a much better job than the alternative guardian of our data, the federal government. Think of the mayhem!
A C:\Spin reader was kind enough to point out that, while I was right to defend Google against the anti-trust regulators and the privacy hawks, Google isn't exactly an innocent party. While I think that Google is a tremendous force for innovation and has created and will create more wealth than can be measured, they do also...
May 31, 2007
Halo 2 for Vista was found to have a hidden part of the code containing a character which moons the player. Much like GTA's hidden Hot Coffee code, this "Easter egg" is a piece of the code, likely a joke from one programmer to another, is only accessible by someone who is very familiar with programming and has a lot of time on their hands. This should not be confused with unlockable levels or characters, which are common to many games and a completely kosher part of game design.
That said, after the fallout from the Hot Coffee controversy, the ESRB did change the terms of the contracts that it signs with software makers to mandate disclosure of...
May 4, 2007The New York Post is speculating on the possibility of Microsoft aquiring Yahoo! This deal would deflate the notion that Google is a monopoly as the combined company would be a formidable force in the online world. I also found this aspect of the story very interesting:
Aside from cost savings, a deal would also create opportunities to use Yahoo! content on Microsoft devices, such as making music exclusively provided to Yahoo! Music available on Microsoft's Xbox game console and Zune music player.
The online music point is important because currently the iPod enjoys a 70 to 80 percent market share. MSYahoo! would put the Zune on better ground to be a serious...
May 3, 2007Amensty International posted this summation of the injustice that has landed Karim Amer in prison for the next four years. Karim's 'crime' has been speaking out against the policies Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egpyt, and arguing for the expansion of many rights to women.
Criticism of government is a reflex in the United States, especially for CEI, but it's still a distant hope for many in Egypt and throughout the region.
I'm glad to see that AI is supporting the Free Karim effort. Karim is innocent of any real crime and should be immediately freed. To help Karim, visit...
May 3, 2007Websters are calling the 'revolt' at Digg an online Boston Tea Party. This is offensive to anyone who knows the history of the Boston Tea Party. The Sons of Liberty destroyed someone else's property, a very non-libertarian thing to do, but they did so to protest the unjust taxation of their own hard earned dollars and the tyrannical British rule. Besides, the British East India Company was nothing like what we would call a private enterprise. Before it was dissolved in the middle of the 19th century the East India Company had many governmental and military functions and virtually ruled India. The revolutionaries were against this kind of government granted monopoly and unjust use of power...
May 3, 2007Charges that Google is constructing a vast network of partners in order to monopolize the net betray that fact that most regulators and 'tech journalists' know nothing of how markets, or webpages function.
I added AdSense ads to my webpage through a simple cut and paste into the code of my page. Websites that actually receive traffic, unlike my site, are run by CMS, or Content Management Systems. By seperating format and content, new websites can easily change their entire ad system from Google, to Yahoo! or any other online ad serving company.
Right now Google does lead in text ads (though it's behind Yahoo! in graphical ads), but small adjustments in the margins of Google's competitors could give advertisers lower prices and affiliates a bigger pay-off. This would immediately nab revenue from Menlo Park and see it travling down the road...
May 2, 2007Digg.com, the popular crowd-edited news aggregating site, has been the subject of online controversy as of late. Recently, a Digg user posted a story with a link to a site that contained a series of numbers. After receiving a record of more than 15,000 diggs, it was taken down. Why? Because the numbers were the proprietary key for HD-DVD encryption. With the key a knowledgeable nerd could do what so many knowledgeable nerds have already done with DVDs: copy it.
But what Digg did in taking down the story wasn't censorship; it was an editorial decision by a private website. While Digg bases its success on crowd-sourcing the function of news editing, it does have the right to step in and take down other content. Digg's managers can't force anything off of another website, but their can surely take things down from their own.
Yet Digg has plenty of reasons not to censor...