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Saturday, July 5, 2008

eBay Baby Returned To Parents

A German boy, taken from his parents by officials after the discovery of an eBay posting offering the child up for sale, has been returned to his home. The ad placed May 24th read: "Offering my nearly new baby for sale, as it has gotten too loud. It is a male baby, nearly 28 inches long and can be used either in a baby carrier or a stroller." the starting bid was 1 euro. Otto Gaschler, deputy chief of youth services in Unterallgau, told the AP that the posting was "like a game for them. They never thought that this stupid joke could have such an effect." Both parents are in their early twenties and clearly have a lot of growing up to do! Perhaps they should have been made to take a parenting class or do some volunteer time at a shelter prior to the return of their child. -- CNet New Blog.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Google Ordered To Hand Over YouTube Logs To Viacom

Viacom has been awarded the rights to view YouTubes logs in order to prove its assertion that illegal content has greater appeal than that produced by amateurs. The logs in question contain the username of the YouTube user as well has their IP address. The court however denied Viacom's request for Google's search code. While the intent is not to know what "you" have watched specifically but rather how many people are watching copy righted materials vs. skateboarding dog videos, the potential is there for someone to link you to what you have viewed on the site. From a privacy perspective it's a little scarey! article here.

Bell To Offer Unlimited Data Smartphone Plan

Rogers announced it's iPhone rates earlier this week and disappointed Canadians from coast to coast, with more than 30,000 signatures on an online petition at Yesterday Bell upped the ante by announcing an unlimited data plan with the Samsung Instinct that the company will begin selling on August 8th. The lowest Bell plan for the Instinct will come in at just under $40 before taxes, including a $10 unlimited data plan, while the Rogers iPhone plan's cheapest rate is $60 a month plus system access fee of $6.95, which offers 150 daytime minutes and just 400 megabytes of data usage. The Instinct will costs $149.95 on a three-year contract, $249.95 on a two-year contract, $399.95 on a one-year contract or can be purchased outright for $449.95.

By comparrison the Instinct does not support a Wi-Fi connection, but has many features in common with the iPhone, including touch-screen interface and HTML web browsing. According to the CBC "Bell spokesperson Jason Laszlo said the unlimited data plan includes web browsing, web-based e-mail and downloads. Other services, including GPS navigation, access to Bell's Full Track Music, Sirius satellite radio and on-demand TV content, are available at additional charges."

This ought to open up the gates a bit... it will be interesting to see how the other carriers respond.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Love My Roomba But Wish It Could Do This!

Since acquiring my Roomba earlier this year I've been on the hunt for more robotic helpers to make my life easier, perhaps the Asahi Beer Robot is just the thing I've been looking for...

Move over Mayday Malone... bartender may not be a wise career choice anymore!

Sept. 11 Search Dog To Be Cloned

A Halifax, Nova Scotia based search-and-rescue dog that helped recover the last survivor from the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11th, 2001 has been selected through an essay competition to be cloned, winning the title of the world's "most clone-worthy" dog. Trakr a 15 year old German shepherd owned by former Halifax police officer James Symington, now lives in Los Angeles, and suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder and no longer has the use of his back legs. California-based, BioArts International, choose Trakr for cloning based on an essay submitted by Symington. "We received many very touching submissions to our contest," BioArts CEO Lou Hawthorne said in a release. "But Trakr's story blew us away. His many remarkable capabilities were proven beyond all doubt in our nation's darkest hour — and we view the work of cloning him as a great honour." I personally have mixed emotions about cloning but in this case I think they've made a great choice! CBC story here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Google Misses Canada Day

Since 2001 Google's homepage has paid homage to Canada Day (July 1st) with a uniquely Canadian logo, with the exception of 2003 and now again in 2008. So what's up Google? “We enjoy celebrating holidays at Google and are sorry we missed one that's special to you. As you may imagine, it's difficult for us to choose which events to celebrate on our site. We have a long list of holidays that we'd like to celebrate in the future. We have to balance this rotating calendar with the need to maintain the consistency of the Google homepage.” No matter... we still love you! Just don't forget us next year, but then again we are Canadian and we'll probably forgive you next year as well! Globe and Mail article here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

McAfee Spam Expirement = 23,233 e-mails In One Month

In an experiment, McAfee invited 50 people from around the world to surf without spam filters. The results varied depending on where the surfer resided however I think you'll agree that even the least affected geographically still received a staggering amount of spam! Spam received by surfer by country (in one month):

US - 23,233
Brazil - 15,856
Italy - 15,610
Mexico - 12,229
UK - 11,965
Australia - 9,214
The Netherlands - 6,378
Spain - 5,419
France - 2,597
Germany - 2,331

"Many of our participants noticed that their computers were slowing down. This means that while they were surfing, unbeknownst to them, websites were installing malware," said Guy Roberts, director of McAfee's labs in Europe.

The future does not seem to hold any promise for eradicating spam either, " is such an immense problem and it's never going to go away. It's no longer a question of solving it but one of managing it," says Dave De Walt, chief executive of McAfee.

BBC story here.

Italian Researchers Identify Encrypted File Sharing Packets

For ISPs, like Bell and Rogers, who practice throttling techniques to discourage file sharing the results of some Italian research will be good news. Until now file sharing users could twart the throttling efforts of their ISP by encrypting the files they were sharing rendering them unrecognizable. A team of Italian researchers from the University of Brescia, has devised a method that they have demonstrated can catch these "hidden" file-sharing packets with up to 90 per cent accuracy. Their method "involves measuring the size and frequency of the discrete "packets" of data that a file-sharing program sends out over, and receives back from, the internet." The results of their experiments are impressive, if you are an ISP, "First and foremost, virtually no legitimate traffic is blocked by our mechanism," the Brescia engineers report. "Second, and equally important, the vast majority of [illegitimate] traffic is blocked by the mechanism." CBC Story here.

Monday, June 30, 2008

French Courts Rule Against ebay

A french court has ruled that ebay must pay 40 million euros in restitution for knock off goods and unauthorized distribution of legitimate goods. LVMH, representing Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Guerlain, Kenzo and Givenchy was awarded the settlement that ebay says it will appeal. At issue was the sale of knock off Louis Vuitton handbags, Christian Dior clothing, and "illicit" Dior, Guerlain, Kenzo and Givenchy perfume that only specialist dealers were permitted to sell. LVMH spokesman Pierre Godet told French news agency AFP that the decision "protected brands by considering them an important part of French heritage". In ebay's defense, Vanessa Canzini, an eBay spokeswoman, said: "If counterfeits appear on our sites, we take them down swiftly, but today’s ruling is not about our fight against counterfeit.

"Today’s ruling is about an attempt by LVMH to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers that eBay empowers everyday.

"We will fight this ruling on their behalf; we will be seeking leave to appeal.”

If ebay can't sell knock offs, what's left?

BBC story here.

Twitters Investors Include Amazon's Bezos

In a blog post last week, twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced who was behind the latest round of financing. Two new funding partners, Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital in Boston and CEO Jeff Bezos of Bezos Expeditions in Seattle. Launching what he's calling 'Project Runway' Stone says "Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model. However, our biggest opportunities will be worth pursuing only when we achieve our vision of Twitter as a global communication utility. To reach our goal, Twitter must be reliable and robust. Private funding gives us the runway we need to stay focused on the infrastructure that will help our business take flight..." Most twitter users will agree that the money will be well spent on overcoming the services scalability woes that have many complaining openly about twitter. Hang in there a bit longer folks, perhaps this new money and the expertice of the likes of Bezos can get twitter over the hump.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Google Wedding Planner?

Here is a great story about David and Bergin Boyle who used the tools available to them via Google, to plan, organize, and document their wedding day.
  • Google Calendar to pick a date that worked for both of their schedules;
  • Google Docs for documents, to do lists and list of invites, RSVPs and such;
  • Google Page Creator to create a web page to inform friends and guests;
  • Google Analytics to determine if anyone was using their web site;
  • Google Maps to inform guest about the venue and provide suggestions about hotels and sites of interest;
  • forms to allow guests to submit their ideas for songs that mean something to them;
  • Gmail to communicate with guests; and
  • Picassa to share wedding photos after the big day.
As one of the commenors on David's blog says "Maybe Google should start a site Google Wedding to have all of this in one site..."