QuickLinks - Technology
QuickLinks - Technology
Issue no. 337 - 13 April 2005
- Mobile carriers seek cheaper anti-piracy software
A powerful group of mobile telecoms operators called for lower prices for essential anti-piracy systems, warning that high royalty payments may stifle the markets for digital music and video. The mobile phone industry's Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) has developed an open standard for anti-piracy software, but the technology used by the standard is too expensive, said the GSM Association of mobile operators.
Issue no. 335 - 20 March 2005
- Cleaning spam from swapping networks
Cornell University researchers are trying to clear file-swapping networks with a new program aimed at filtering spam out of the peer-to-peer pool. But the tool could also ratchet up the antipiracy arms race, by filtering out the numerous 'decoy' files used by Hollywood and record label allies to discourage illegal downloaders.
Issue no. 331 - 13 February 2005
- 'Podcasting' Lets Masses Do Radio Shows
Less than a year old, podcasting enables anyone with a PC to become a broadcaster. It has the potential to do to the radio business what Web logs have done to print journalism. By bringing the cost of broadcasting to nearly nothing, it's enabling more voices and messages to be heard than ever before.
Issue no. 330 - 30 January 2005
- Electronics giants form alliance
The world's four biggest consumer electronics companies have agreed to start using a common method to protect digital music and video against piracy and illegal copying. Japan's Sony Corp and Panasonic-brand owner Matsushita Electric Industrial, South Korea's Samsung Electronics and Dutch Philips Electronics formed the alliance because they want buyers of their products to watch or listen to "appropriately licensed video and music on any device, independent of how they originally obtained that content". Such interoperability does not exist at the moment. The alliance, called the Marlin Joint Development Association (Marlin JDA), gives the companies standard specifications to build DRM functions into their devices that support commonly used modes of content distribution. See also Format wars could 'confuse users' (BBC)
Issue no. 329 - 23 January 2005
- File-swappers ready new network
Legal attacks on websites that help people swap pirated films have forced the development of a system that could be harder to shut down. One site behind the success of the BitTorrent file-swapping system is producing its own software that avoids the pitfalls of the earlier program. A test version of the new Exeem program will be released in late January. But doubts remain about the new networks ability to ensure files being swapped are 'quality copies'.
Issue no. 328 - 4 January 2005
- Heroes of the internet frontier
by Eli Noam. Music companies have been trying to suppress 'peer-to-peer' (P2P) practices in the courts, legislatures and by spreading deliberately defective copies of songs. They view P2P users as thieves who must be prosecuted. But traditional media companies should perhaps see P2P as to their long-term advantage because it helps create new markets and forms of distribution.
- The BitTorrent Effect
Movie studios hate it. File-swappers love it. Bram Cohen's blazing-fast P2P software has turned the Internet into a universal TiVo. For free video-on-demand, just click here.
- The Shadow Internet
They start with a single stolen file and pump out bootleg games and movies by the millions. Inside the pirate networks that are terrorizing the entertainment business. There are 30 or so topsites, underground, highly secretive servers where nearly all of the unlicensed music, movies, and videogames available on the Internet originate. Outside of a pirate elite and the Feds who track them, few know that topsites exist. Even fewer can log in.
Issue no. 320 - 25 September 2004
- UK - Web tool may banish broken links
Students have developed a tool which could mean broken weblinks are history. Peridot, developed by UK intern students at IBM, scans company weblinks and replaces outdated information with other relevant documents and links. It works by automatically mapping and storing key features of webpages, so it can detect significant content changes. The students said Peridot could protect companies by spotting links to sites that have been removed, or which point to wholly unsuitable content.
Issue no. 317 - 22 August 2004
Issue no. 307 - 25 April 2004
- File-sharing to bypass censorship
By the year 2010, file-sharers could be swapping news rather than music, eliminating censorship of any kind. This is the view of the man who helped kickstart the concept of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing, Cambridge University's Professor Ross Anderson. In his vision, people around the world would post stories via anonymous P2P services like those used to swap songs. They would cover issues currently ignored by the major news services, said Prof Anderson.
Issue no. 305 - 28 March 2004
- Fun with USB ports
Now you can plug ashtrays, noodle cookers and even rubber duckies into your USB ports.
Issue no. 304 - 21 March 2004
- Enthusiasts Call Web Feed Next Big Thing
E-mail is crippled by an irrepressible spam stream. Web surfing can be equally confounding. And that may explain the excitement these days over a software tool that automatically delivers updated information to your computer directly from your favorite Web sites. Enthusiasts see these Web feeds as sketching the outline of the next Net revolution. The technology behind them is called RSS
- UK - Net chatbots to catch paedophiles
Smart software is being used to fool paedophiles into thinking they are talking to children in net chatrooms. To make itself sound plausible in net chatrooms the software scours the net for current references to pop and youth culture, New Scientist magazine reports If the 'nanniebot' software spots signs of paedophile activity, it sends out an alert to its creators.
Issue no. 296 - 4 January 2004
- Double-layer DVD heats up standards battle
The competition between recordable DVD formats will only increase when the first 'plus' dual-layer disc is released, say industry observers One side of the ongoing recordable DVD format battle is expected to be first with products that nearly double the amount of data held on one disc. But that victory may not put an end to the feud. The DVD+RW camp, which includes Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Philips, plans to put so-called "double-layer" DVD recording devices on the market by next spring. Discs on these systems are expected to hold 8.5GB, or four hours of DVD-quality video (16 hours of VHS-quality video). That's about the same amount as the DVDs studios use to issue movies.
- FR - Awards DVD will 'self-destruct'
A DVD which 'self-destructs' will be sent to voters of the Cesar Awards in France, it has been reported. The move follows a row in the US over the use of preview discs, which the industry says can prompt piracy. The US film industry banned the sending of preview discs to award voters, but this was later challenged in court. The DVD of Gus Van Sant's film Elephant turns black and becomes unusable with two days of being played, reports industry website Screen Daily. The DVDs, which are designed to be disposable, will be sent to members of France's Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema.
Issue no. 289 - 26 October 2003
- DK - Report urges government support for open source
Open source software and open standards are vital for any attempt at e-government, argues a new report from Denmark by the Danish Board of Technology . Open source software represents a serious alternative to proprietary products, and should be used as a tool to open up software markets to more competition.
- MIT bows out of controversial RFID tag research
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ending a four-year collaboration with dozens of blue-chip companies that set out to advance a new frontier of information technology known as radio frequency identification that would track the location of everyday objects.
Issue no. 288 - 19 October 2003
- PDA, RIP - The next big thing that wasn't - or was it?
Is it time to declare the demise of the handheld computer, also known as the personal digital assistant (PDA)? A lot of people suddenly think so, for despite high hopes that the devices would someday become ubiquitous, annual sales have stayed flat at around 11m units worldwide. In contrast, sales of smartphones, high-powered mobile handsets capable of doing most things PDAs can do, are rising fast. Smartphones can be used to store addresses and phone numbers, download small pieces of software (such as games), browse the internet while on the move, store and play music, and jot down brief messages. And, of course, they are also telephones.
Issue no. 286 - 3 October 2003
- EU - One Billion Euro for the success of Information and Communication Technologies in Europe
The Union's priority for R&D in Information Society Technologies (IST) aims to bring technologies closer to people, ensuring that all Europe's citizens and businesses can, and actually do benefit from technological advance. As a result of the first IST Call for Proposals under the sixth Framework Programme, the Commission's Information Society Directorate-General will be launching 236 new IST projects to the tune of 1 billion Euro of Community funding. This represents the largest award of its kind in the history of the Framework Programme.
Issue no. 284 - 21 September 2003
- Compulsory Licensing - Where Are the Defenders of HTTP?
by Ernest Miller. In the report of the Berkman Center Summit Digital Media in Cyberspace: The Legislation and Business Effects Harvard symposium debates future of online file-sharing (Boston.com), I found the following quote by Charles Nesson rather interesting, 'There was a time that to make a copy, you needed a monk, and a desk, and months, and then Sean Fanning hit the scene.' Now, clearly, Nesson was exaggerating his statement for effect. However, his statement does point to a common misconception about filesharing - many people believe that it started with Napster. It didn't. The MP3 format itself was causing concern to the record industry at least since 1997 and Napster was not founded until 1999. So how was music filesharing taking place before Napster? Many of the usual suspects that are routinely ignored in the press even today: Usenet, FTP, IRC ... and one suspect that is no longer a major concern: HTTP.
Issue no. 283 - 14 September 2003
- Open-source software - Microsoft at the power point
Governments like open-source software, but Microsoft does not. Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, interrupted his holiday in Switzerland to visit Munich and lobby the mayor. Microsoft even dropped its prices to match Linux - a remarkable feat since Linux is essentially free and users merely purchase support services alongside it. But the software giant still lost. City officials said the decision was a matter of principle: the municipality wanted to control its technological destiny. It did not wish to place the functioning of government in the hands of a commercial vendor with proprietary standards which is accountable to shareholders rather than to citizens. Across the globe, governments are turning to open-source software which, unlike proprietary software, allows users to inspect, modify and freely redistribute its underlying programming instructions. Scores of national and state governments have drafted legislation calling for open-source software to be given preferential treatment in procurement.
Issue no. 281 - 31 August 2003
- RSS - A Primer for Publishers and Content Providers
This document is aimed at publishers and content providers with the intention of introducing & explaining the concepts behind RSS and addressing some commonly expressed concerns. It is primarily intended for a non-technical audience who require an overview of RSS in order to allow them to make decisions regarding the possible use of the technology. However, the guidelines do provide recommendations for good practice, case studies on RSS production and links to tools and specifications which will provide useful starting points for those tasked with actually producing RSS feeds.
- With E-mail Dying, RSS Offers Alternative
(Editor and Publisher)
Who'd have thought that things could get this bad? E-mail - long touted as the 'killer app' of the Internet and the best online channel for publishers - is rapidly being decimated by spammers and virus writers. Yes, 'decimated' is an accurate word. The evidence is quickly mounting that e-mail is no longer an efficient means for ethical publishers to reach subscribers.
Issue no. 280 - 24 August 2003
- Aggregators attack information overload
Wired netizens who read a hundred blogs a day and just as many news sources are turning to a new breed of software, called newsreaders or aggregators, to help them manage information overload. Many now say that their news aggregator is as indispensable as their e-mail client. Aggregators, such as NewsGator and AmphetaDesk, allow users to subscribe to feeds from sources as diverse as the BBC, Sci-Fi Today, Slashdot and thousands of bloggers across the world. The services work by checking an Internet address at a regular interval, usually once an hour, to see if new content has been added.
- RSS Hitting Critical Mass
by Dan Gillmor. Every morning I learn the latest from a variety of news organizations, weblogs, newsletters and other online information sources. But I don't use my e-mail program or go surfing from Web site to Web site. Instead, I use a piece of software called a news aggregator or newsreader to scoop up headlines and summaries, along with links to the places where they originated. I can do this because of a technology known as RSS, which stands for (among other things) Really Simple Syndication. It's been around for years but is still largely unknown outside the techie community. That's going to change, and soon.
Issue no. 277 - 30 July 2003
- P2P hide-and-seek
Visitors to several of the most popular sites serving as hubs for BitTorrent file downloads last week found them gone, with explanatory messages variously citing legal threats from copyright holders, denial-of-service attacks and simple overloaded bandwidth. The phenomenon may prove a stumbling block to a technology that many in the online world have quickly adopted as the super-efficient answer to the kinds of slowdowns and download queues that are common with more popular services such as Kazaa or Morpheus. But the issues come as no surprise to the technology's creator, independent San Francisco programmer Bram Cohen, who says his work is badly designed for anyone who wants to trade copyrighted works without being identified.
Issue no. 276 - 23 June 2003
- UK urged to hold back on open source
A U.K. tech industry body has urged the U.K. government to show restraint in its use of open-source software, particularly software covered by the General Public License. Intellect, which is backed by Microsoft, IBM, Intel, BAE Systems and other high-tech heavyweights, said that the requirement of open-source licenses for software funded by the government could have a negative impact on competition for contracts, on the quality of the resulting software and even on the confidentiality of government departments.
Issue no. 273 - 1 June 2003
- Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting
(Harvard Law School)
by Benjamin Edelman - Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The Gator Corporation designs software to display advertisements on users' computer screens, triggered in part by the specific web sites users visit. The author has developed an automated method of determining which specific advertisements Gator has associated with which web sites, data that may be helpful to web site operators, policy-makers, and others in assessing Gator's practices.
- File swapping shifts up a gear
A new generation of peer-to-peer tools is finding its groove on the Internet, spelling tougher times ahead for movie studios' attempts to quell online piracy. Going by names like eDonkey and BitTorrent, many of the latest generation of file-swapping tools have been designed specifically to increase the efficiency and speed of transfer for large files such as movie files. BitTorrent splits files into tiny bits. Once someone has started downloading a file, that person's computer immediately serves as an upload server for anyone else looking for the file. The technology automatically balances upload and download speeds, ensuring that people downloading give back to the network. Unlike other file-swapping networks, if the number of people searching for a single file increases, it means faster downloads. The director of worldwide Internet enforcement for the MPAA is are well aware of and are monitoring the new file-swapping technologies, but said "They still allow us to identify the IP address of a person."
Issue no. 270 - 11 May 2003
- Program Lets P2P Users Roam Free
A new "cloaking" application that protects individuals from network snooping is making the rounds among file traders, marking the latest salvo in the increasingly volatile battle between music labels and file traders. Free software called PeerGuardian creates a personal firewall that blocks the IP addresses of snoops. They can see the names of files being traded, but they can't download the file to tell whether it's a copyrighted file.
Issue no. 267 - 21 April 2003
- Software rams great firewall of China
The U.S. government's Voice of America has commissioned software that lets Chinese Web surfers sneak around the boundaries set by their government. The software enables PC users to set up a simple version of what's known as a circumvention Web server, or a computer that essentially digs a tunnel under a firewall set up by a government, corporation, school or other organization.
Issue no. 263 - 16 March 2003
- Scientists: Internet speed record smashed
Offering a glimpse of a faster digital future, researchers announced they have set a new Internet speed record. Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center used fiber-optic cables to transfer 6.7 gigabytes of data -- the equivalent of two DVD movies -- across 6,800 miles in less than a minute.
Issue no. 262 - 9 March 2003
- UK - Virtual detectives track criminals
Increasingly police forces are relying on software that can sift through the information they gather to help them solve more crimes. Every UK police force, some European ones and the FBI in the US now use a visualisation software tool by a British company called i2 to analyse all data. It allows hard-pressed police officers to piece together and picture the evidence they have collected.
Issue no. 260 - 23 February 2003
- Estonians key to writing Kazaa code
When a Swedish software developer cast about for help in writing the Kazaa file-sharing software, colleagues raised eyebrows when he chose three unheralded youths from little-known Estonia. And jaws dropped when the program quickly became the leading software download on the Internet.
- Tracking tag for Net music unveiled
The International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) launched electronic identity tags to keep tabs on Internet music sales in a bid to compensate musicians and song writers as more of their works become available online. The Global Release Identifier, or GRid, is a code akin to the Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code found on a CD or cassette tape in stores. Digital Rights Management DRM.
Issue no. 257 - 26 January 2003
- US - Microsoft to reveal source code to governments
The source code Microsoft has long guarded as secret intellectual property is now becoming the carrot dangled before governments to keep them from defecting to competitors' software. Microsoft announced a Government Security Program (GSP) to make the underlying code for its Windows operating system available to several governments and governmental agencies for viewing. see also Open-Source Windows? Uh, Kinda;
Issue no. 256 - 18 January 2003
- Hitting P2P Users Where It Hurts
Unable to snuff out file-swapping networks in court, record labels and other media outfits are shifting their anti-peer-to-peer crusade to a new venue: the file-trading networks themselves. A company, Overpeer, appears to be distributing so many defective copies of a given file on P2P networks that users have a hard time locating an undamaged copy. This technique, called "spoofing," has been used by disgruntled musicians and other anti-P2P saboteurs for years but spoofing on a grand scale requires extensive resources. see also Hollywood Fears Fighting Piracy (LawMeme) comment by Ernest Miller.
Issue no. 249 - 10 November 2002
- Freenet keeps file-trading flame burning
A new version of the Freenet software, a program based around wholly anonymous Net publishing and distribution, is due out after long silence from its mostly volunteer developer community.
- Working the web: Filesharing
Despite the death of Napster, file-sharing is not impossible. Just proceed with caution, advises Jack Schofield
Issue no. 247 - 19 October 2002
- Ballmer Sees Free Software as Enemy No. 1
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is telling his employees to focus on the threat that Linux and other free programs available on the Internet pose to sales at the world's largest software maker. The programs are called open source because thousands of developers on the Web can collaborate to tweak and customize the underlying code. They may undercut Ballmer's plan to counter slowing sales of personal computers by selling more software for the server machines that run company networks and Web sites. ``We have told our sales force to really understand that this is kind of job one,'' Ballmer said ``People are saying by and large, `It might be easier for me to move my Unix apps to Linux than to Windows,' although we're pretty close to making that untrue.''
Issue no. 246 - 29 September 2002
- New Kazaa likely to raise labels' ire
An overhauled version of the popular file-swapping software Kazaa was unleashed on the Internet, with features sure to make record and movie studio executives' blood boil. the new Kazaa allows searches by "playlist," letting groups of songs be downloaded as a single item. The company touts this as a way for people to share diverse lists of songs by different artists, while warning against trading copyrighted works. In reality, this new option provides a new, simple way to download albums all at once instead of song by song. The new software also takes direct aim at measures that record companies and movies studios have been taking to counteract peer-to-peer piracy. Kazaa's new software allows people to rate files so that corrupt or false files will quickly collect ratings poor enough to warn people away from downloading them. It also comes with a setting called "filter bogus music and video files" that is set by default as active.
- Xbox configuration changed
Microsoft has changed the internal configuration of its Xbox game console, a move intended to thwart hackers and lower manufacturing costs.
Issue no. 245 - 15 September 2002
- How to blow your bandwidth
(Globe and Mail)
What's the fastest way to eat up bandwidth? Keep running a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. So says Marc Morin in a paper called The Effects of P2P on Service Provider Networks. He has measured exactly how much P2P technology is influencing the Internet. We were all wrong when we tried to calculate P2P traffic by adding up the size of the MP3 files we were swapping. The real problem is the peer-to-peer software itself: The two main P2P networks, Kazaa and Gnutella, now make up an astonishing proportion of all Internet traffic - about 40 to 60 per cent.
Issue no. 244 - 7 September 2002
- An Alternative to Microsoft Gains Support in High Places
(New York Times)
Governments around the world, afraid that Microsoft has become too powerful in critical software markets, have begun working to ensure an alternative. More than two dozen countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America, including China and Germany, are now encouraging their government agencies to use "open source" software - developed by communities of programmers who distribute the code without charge and donate their labor to cooperatively debug, modify and otherwise improve the software.
- How to Make Morpheus an Endangered Species? Poison Its Habitat
In a term paper for their applied mathematics class last winter, Andrew Chen and Andrew Schroeder, two University of Washington seniors, borrowed from environmental studies to conclude that polluting the peer-to-peer (P2P) milieu with phony files is a more effective strategy for the record labels than lawsuits.
- US - Labels loosening up on CD copy locks
Fearful of consumer backlash, major record labels in the United States have slowed controversial plans for making CDs more difficult to copy, even as tension over online music piracy mounts.
Issue no. 243 - 31 August 2002
- Identification de biens numériques: la commission européenne approuve le projet EDRA
La commission européenne, dans le cadre de son programme eContent, vient d'approuver le projet EDRA destiné à créer une agence européenne d'enregistrement des DOI (Digital Object Identifier), a annoncé à Paris un des associés du projet, le Syndicat national français de l'édition (SNE).
- Something to watch over you
It is easier than ever for individuals to track their possessions, pets and loved ones. In fact, the new generation of tracking devices combines two existing technologies. One is a global-positioning-system (GPS) chip, which uses radio signals from a network of satellites to work out where it is on the earth's surface to within a few metres. The other is a mobile-telephone chip, which broadcasts that location to whoever needs to know it. The result is a pocket-sized, or even wrist-sized, personal locator.
Issue no. 241 - 24 July 2002
- Hacker group targets Net censorship
An international hacker group calling itself Hacktivismo has released a program called Camera/Shy that allows Internet users to conceal messages inside photos posted on the Web, bypassing most known police monitoring methods. In addition, "Mixter," an internationally known German hacker, said Hacktivismo was preparing in coming weeks to launch technology, which if adopted widely could allow anyone to create grassroots, anonymous networks where Internet users worldwide could access and share information without a trace. Mixter's software--known as a "protocol" in technical terms--would allow ordinary computer users to set up a decentralized version of virtual private networks (VPNs). Hacktivismo, or hacker activism, is just one of several grassroots software projects--including Peekabooty and Privaterra--launched recently by computer activists that seek to enable human rights workers to access censored Web sites or communicate securely.
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