April 2009 Archives

The part in red is what caught my eye:

The company also weighed in on legislation about the creation of personal health records on the Internet, according to the disclosure form filed April 20 with the House clerk's office. Google launched its own electronic health vault for individuals last year in hopes of deepening people's reliance on its services.

The Associated Press: Frugal Google raised 1Q lobbying tally to $880K

Like art? Like Apple?

an Andy Warhol serigraph that is currently up for auction at O'Gallerie in Portland, Oregon. The silkscreen color print (photo at right) was commissioned by Del Yocam, who was Apple's first COO and head of the Apple II division during the 1980s

Bid on this Andy Warhol Apple logo serigraph


“I love to run with purpose, meaning I hate the track, but I like to chase things,” Ms. Batchelder said. “I love the fact that when you’re playing, you make hundreds and thousands of little decisions — where the disc is, where your body is — but they happen without thinking.”

Nothing feels as good as a throw well done, disc arcing its way through the air, around players, into the space where your teammate will be. The variables in play—the complex and changing geometry of the players on the field, the attitude and speed of the disc, the angle of release, the wind—combine somehow to give the game graceful fluidity while confronting players with sudden changes.

As we say, when a ball dreams, it’s a disc.

Fitness - Ultimate Frisbee Takes Off - NYTimes.com


A widely used technology to authenticate users when they log in for online banking may help reduce fraud, but it does so at the expense of consumer privacy, a civil liberties attorney said during a panel at the RSA security conference on Thursday.

When logging into bank Web sites, users are typically asked for their user name and password. But that's not all that is happening. Behind the scenes, the server is taking measures to identify the device being used in an attempt to verify that the person logging in is the person whose account is being accessed under the assumption that most people use the same computer for banking.

Another device fingerprinting technology provided by 41st Parameter is similar but doesn't tag the computer. Instead, the technology figures out the degree of probability that the computer accessing the site is the one that should be accessing it by querying the computer for things like time zone, language, browser type, Flash ID, cookie ID and IP address, said Ori Eisen, founder of the company. If enough of the answers match, the account can be accessed.

Even though none of the information gathered during a log-in is personally identifiable, the bank shouldn't have to collect regular data on when, how often and from where a consumer accesses a bank account, said Jennifer Granick of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Such information can be compiled with other more sensitive information to create profiles and cross referenced to learn more about consumers, she said.

For instance, the bank could learn who a consumer's roommate is if the same computer is used regularly to access different accounts, Granick said. Consumers also could be deemed suspicious for breaking with their patterns on deposits or withdrawals or the information could be sold to advertisers, she added.

"There is very little privacy protection in the U.S. for this type of information," Granick said. "We don't want it shared with affiliates that do advertising." There should be restrictions on how long the bank will keep the data, who it can share it with and for what purposes, she added.

I would assume that banks and credit card companies are already selling the details of your purchasing habits into secondary markets. I doubt adding information about the computers, phones, or browsers you use, and where they are located, would add much to a marketer’s targeting algorithm.

These facts do, however, create additional data on which financial institutions can perform fraud detection and analysis, and put barriers in front of fraudsters without consistently inconveniencing legitimate users.

Device identification in online banking is privacy threat, expert says | Security - CNET News


[T]he company is now positioning Snow Leopard Server as an alternative way to deliver remote access services to mobile devices with less overhead and equipment, and avoiding expensive Client Access Licenses charged by Microsoft. According to sources familiar with Apple's plans, Mobile Access uses a proxy server to provide remote mobile users with "always on" security they won't need to manually connect with when needed.
A proxy server can act as a network gateway that performs content filtering or caching services to accelerate web access to internal users on a private network. In Apple's case however, it appears that Mobile Access in Snow Leopard will be used as a reverse proxy to deliver SSL certificate-based secure encryption of both email and web-based services to iPhone and iPod touch users.
It is already common for mail servers to deliver SSL encryption of POP, IMAP and SMTP traffic, and for web services to supply SSL-encrypted web access via the HTTPS protocol. Because Apple's new Address Book Server, iCal Server, and Wiki collaboration tools are all WebDAV-based, it will be simple for Apple to offer an SSL proxy that centrally secures all the email, calendar, contacts, a collaboration server access for iPhone users, making it simpler, faster, and cheaper for companies to deploy mobile remote access without configuring or supporting VPN connections

Is this a grab at the enterprise market? Doesn’t feel like it. After all, how many large organizations are going to provision calendaring, collaboration, and mail using Apple versions of open source, standards-based tools? The domain of Exchange, SharePoint, or Notes doesn’t seem to be the bullseye here so much as the smaller organization looking to provision some level of services, while enabling a mobile workforce.

I have to wonder, though, if that market isn’t going to think first about hosted services to address their needs, as opposed to buying, deploying, maintaining, and upgrading their own boxes?

AppleInsider | Snow Leopard Server to offer low cost, secure mobile access to iPhone


By now, many employees are uncomfortably aware that their every keystroke at work, from email on office computers to text messages on company phones, can be monitored legally by their employers.

What employees typically don't expect is for the company to spy on them while on password-protected sites using nonwork computers. But even that privacy could be in jeopardy.

One critical issue is whether what an individual says online can be considered private. What if it’s meant to be broadcast at large, say on an unprotected blog? Seems like the expectation of privacy might be low (although the expectation that one’s free speech might be protected could be high, excluding any conduct that might have been proscribed in an employment agreement).

What if, then the individual attempted to blog anonymously? Or what if the blog was protected or restricted to invited users? Is a Facebook group or profile a protected, private space—does it qualify as a place for private communication between people?

Employers Watching Workers Online Spurs Privacy Debate - WSJ.com


Mr. Schwartz said the transaction puts Oracle in a position to "solve a broader set of problems than any other company on earth."

Almost  any other company, Jonathan.

Oracle Agrees to Acquire Sun Microsystems - WSJ.com


Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants.

F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases - NYTimes.com

Make no mistake: this is a genetic dragnet. The clearest signal that we should be worried comes when backers resort to the old argument “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.”

Mr. Morrissey pointed to Britain, which has fewer privacy protections than the United States and has been taking DNA upon arrest for years. It has a population of 61 million — and 4.5 million DNA profiles. “About 8 percent of the people commit about 70 percent of your crimes, so if you can get the majority of that community, you don’t have to do more than that,” he said.

In the United States, 8 percent of the population would be roughly 24 million people.

Of course, in the land of magical datamining, we only keep the DNA of people sure to be criminals.

Critics are also disturbed by the demographics of DNA databases. Again Britain is instructive. According to a House of Commons report, 27 percent of black people and 42 percent of black males are genetically registered, compared with 6 percent of white people.

But is it enough to rescue Palm?

Underneath the sleek exterior, the multi-touch display and the sliding keyboard of the upcoming Palm Pre smartphone is the real innovation: a new kind of operating system designed with the mobile Web in mind

Palm's webOS lives up to hype, early developers say - Network World

Great technology is good, and leapfrogging the competition is a must for Pal;m, but developers go where the customers are. They aren’t on this new platform, and they’re not on Sprint.

This is pure genius, and I’m mad that I didn’t think of it first:

WYWH.net — WYWH iPhone Postcards App

Sic transit gloria mundi 

A collective shudder rippled through Silicon Valley on Wednesday morning, as Rackable Systems announced its purchase of Silicon Graphics Inc. for just $25 million in cash.

Once-Mighty SGI Sold to Rackable for $25 Million - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com