Info Tech

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Washington, DC - Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a release announcing its new rule expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The ruling is a reinterpretation of the scope of CALEA and will force Internet broadband providers and certain voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers to build backdoors into their networks that make it easier for law enforcement to wiretap them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has argued against this expansion of CALEA in several rounds of comments to the FCC on its proposed rule.

Kim Zetter, Wired Nws Reports:

For 26 years, strange conversations have been taking place in a basement lab at Princeton University.

No one can hear them, but they can see their apparent effect: balls that go in certain directions on command, water fountains that seem to rise higher with a wish and drums that quicken their beat.

Yet no one hears the conversations because they occur between the minds of experimenters and the machines they will to action.

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, reports:

Michael Lynn is a security researcher who worked at the security firm ISS until yesterday. Now he’s under a restraining order from Cisco, arising from his disclosure of critical flaws in Cisco’s routers that threaten the world’s information infrastructure.

Lynn had found a buffer overflow exploit that lets an attacker take absolute control over Cisco routers. He sent the details to Cisco in April, but they still have not fully repaired the vulnerability. Since many of the world’s key routers are supplied by Cisco, this means Cisco’s foot-dragging places large parts of the world’s information infrastructure at grave risk of collapse.

Photo: Professor Ishiguro and hist Anroid
Professor Ishiguro (r) stresses the importance of appearance in his robots

David Whitehouse , Science editor, BBC News, reprots:

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet - a “female” android named Repliee Q1Expo.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Contest Button

“A challenge for socially-minded graphic designers: design the interface for new, open-source internet TV software. We are a non-profit organization building a software platform that will allow anyone to broadcast and watch channels of high-resolution internet video (learn more). We want to create a serious, independent alternative to commercial television that gives everyone access. If you believe that our technology and approach have a real chance to democratize mass media, then we need you to help us design our software at a level that rivals any proprietary, corporate media platform.”

Reuters, via Slashdot, reports:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) — An undersea cable carrying data between Pakistan and the outside world has developed a serious fault, virtually crippling data feeds, including the Internet, telecommunications officials said.

The system crashed late on Monday and was still down on Tuesday evening. Many offices across the country ground to a halt as people realized it was not one of Pakistan’s regular, but usually brief, technical hitches.

“It’s a worst-case scenario. We are literally blank,” said a senior foreign banker who declined to be identified.

LEE GOMES, The Wall Street Journal, reports:

Dell — which wasn’t even the first PC maker to take the step — last week was offering for $299 a Windows computer that had most of what a beginning user would want. That list includes a 17-inch monitor, a 2.4 gigahertz Celeron processor, 256 megabytes of RAM and a 40-gigabyte hard drive.

A nearly identical system a year ago cost $499, and while it had only half as much RAM, it did provide speakers. The newer, cheaper model doesn’t have any, but you can add a pair for $20.

Besides reflecting a remarkable price decline of 40% in 12 months, the fact that computers can now be had for less than $300 means they have officially entered into the territory of “consumer electronics,” at least under one set of industry rules.

Ten or so years ago, when PCs cost five or even 10 times what they do now, it was common for analysts to say that they would never become a staple in homes until they were priced the way consumer electronics were, usually defined as costing less than $300. In the days when PCs were $2,000 and even more, that target seemed to be something of a fantasy.

Now, PCs cost less than some telephones — and less than a lot of TV sets — and can be found in roughly three-quarters of U.S. homes. But while they are priced like consumer electronics, the machines still aren’t even remotely as easy to use, and the trend lines there aren’t particularly encouraging. In fact, with price no longer as significant an issue, the continuing complexity of computers may become the biggest contributor to any “digital divide” between digital haves and have-nots, especially involving access to the Internet.

Inveneo announces:

At 11:10am PST on June 8th, with a VoIP phone call from the Community Knowledge Center to the village of Nyamiryango, Inveneo’s first solar and pedal powered communications system went live in the Bukuuku sub-county, Kabarole district of Western Uganda. This successful deployment was completed in partnership with ActionAid, and enables villagers to use a phone, computer and the Internet for the first time ever, empowering them to use communications and technology to improve their lives dramatically.

ThinkSecret reports:

June 6, 2005 - Apple will begin shipping Macs with Intel microprocessors next year, and plans to complete a full switch away from PowerPC by the end of 2007, CEO Steve Jobs announced today at his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address in San Francisco.

The Associate Press, via RedNova News, via Fark, reports:

Beginning June 21, the Orlando airport will let travelers pay $80 a year for a card that guarantees an exclusive security line and the promise of no random secondary pat-down. To get this new “Clear” card, travelers would have to be vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and submit to fingerprint and iris scans.

Brian Grow, with Jason Bush in Moscow, BusinessWeek, via Slashdot, reports:

In an unmarked building in downtown Washington, Brian K. Nagel and 15 other Secret Service agents manned a high-tech command center, poised for the largest-ever roundup of a cybercrime gang. A huge map of the U.S., spread across 12 digital screens, gave them a view of their prey, from Arizona to New Jersey. It was Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004, and Operation Firewall was about to be unleashed. The target: the ShadowCrew, a gang whose members were schooled in identity theft, bank account pillage, and the fencing of ill-gotten wares on the Web, police say. For months, agents had been watching their every move through a clandestine gateway into their Web site, To ensure the suspects were at home, a gang member-turned-informant had pressed his pals to go online for a group meeting.

Reuters, via MSNBC, via Slashdot, reports:

MOSCOW - Electricity was suddenly cut off to swathes of Russia’s capital on Wednesday bringing large sections of the public transport system, including underground train services, to a halt.

Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, speaking in parliament, said the breakdown had been caused by an explosion at a electricity substation but he did not say what caused the blast.

Moscow’s main stock exchange was suspended. The MICEX foreign exchange bourse stopped trading for one hour because, though it had power, many of its clients did not.

Trams and trolleybuses ground to a standstill and traffic lights stopped working, causing a flurry of road traffic accidents, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The underground train system was halted and suburban commuter trains on several routes in and out of the city were also affected. Water supplies to homes were also disrupted.

The outage also affected large parts of the nearby Moscow and Tula regions.

Duane DeFreitas and the Rupununi Express
Duane DeFreitas and the Rupununi Express

Paul Rubens, BBC NEWS, reports:

Taking a break from setting up a small network, I head outside to see if the nearest building is likely to be able to pick up a wireless network signal. “Make sure you turn right at the bottom of the stairs,” says my host, “or the jaguar will eat you.”

Welcome to the surreal world of Duane DeFreitas, an adventurer and guide living in the tropical rainforest of Guyana.


Cartoon fan David Mackenzie has been on the Internet griping about a cartoon called “Gorilla My Dreams,” recently released as part of a DVD collection of 60 restored Looney Tunes classics from Warner Bros.

Mr. Mackenzie, an 18-year-old film student in Glasgow, Scotland, says there’s something missing from the seven-minute cartoon, about a motherly primate who takes Bugs Bunny on a romp through the jungle: Pause the DVD, and as the two get ready to swing through the air, a piece of vine seems to dissolve.

The glitch is easy to miss. But hardcore animation fans say the case of the vanishing vine is only the latest example of technology gone awry.

“Casual fans will think it’s just people nitpicking, but it’s really not,” Mr. Mackenzie says. “If Gene Kelly’s arm disappeared while he was dancing in ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ everybody would notice.”

As studios release more classic movies and television shows on DVD, they are increasingly using digital restoration to smooth over scratches and dirt specks on old film. But the process can also remove some of the lines that make up the animation — for example, blurring Tom’s face in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, or erasing lines in Woody Woodpecker’s fast-moving beak.

CNN, via Slashdot, reports:

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. are among the big banks notifying more than 670,000 customers that account information was stolen in what may the biggest security breach to hit the banking industry.

Account information on the customers was illegally sold by bank employees to a man identified as Orazio Lembo, whom police said was doing business by illegally posing as a collection agency.

When police in Hackensack, N.J., first announced arrests in the case on April 28, they estimated that more than 500,000 people were affected. That number was raised to 676,000 Friday. Because some people have more than one account, Hackensack Police Chief Charles “Ken” Zisa says the number of accounts breached may top 1 million.

DAVID PACE, Associated Press Writer, via Slashdot, reports:

(05-19) 14:06 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) –

Internet phone providers were ordered Thursday to begin supplying reliable 911 emergency call service after regulators heard an anguished Florida woman describe how she was unable to summon help to save her dying infant daughter.

The Federal Communication Commission gave companies 120 days to certify that their customers will be able to reach an emergency dispatcher when they call 911. Also, dispatchers must be able to tell where callers are located and the numbers from which they are calling.

The BBC reports:

A spoof video of the song (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, performed by British soldiers in Iraq, has crashed Ministry of Defence computers.

Troops in the Royal Dragoon Guards shot a home video at their Al Faw base of their version of the video sung by Tony Christie and mimed by Peter Kay.

They e-mailed it to Army friends in London, but so many tried to download it that the MoD server could not cope.

The MoD said the spoof was “brilliant” and the crash did not cause problems.

A spokesman said: “The soldiers maintaining their morale on operations is always important.

“The fact that it proved so popular in the office and caused the system to crash is unfortunate, but this did not affect operations and the system is up and running again.”

Robert X. Cringely writes:

It’s an expression made popular in Silicon Valley years ago by Andy Grove of Intel: “inflection point.” It’s that abrupt elbow in a graph of growth or decline when the new technology or paradigm truly kicks in, and suddenly there is no going back. From that moment, the new stuff takes off and the old stuff goes into rapid decline, whether it is a new standard of modem, a new video game, a new microprocessor family, or just a new idea. I think we’ve just hit such an inflection point and — though most of us still don’t realize it — the personal computer, video game, and electronic entertainment businesses will never be the same.
(more…) reports:

After several months of live testing VoIP operation in Europe and Asia, SS7 is now available for Asterisk. The LIBISUP solution is fully integrated with Asterisk and does not require any additional external equipment.

The SS7 LIBISUP library presents itself as a replacement of the LIBPRI library. This means that you can use the existing Asterisk zap features and applications. The configuration, dial plans, etc. work the same way as with PRI. Both the stable release and CVS Head are supported.

The product is immediately available under the Digium commercial licence.
For more information please write to
and describe your SS7 project.

Geekzone, via Slashdot, reports:

America Online, Inc. began the rollout of the AOL Internet Phone Service, an enhanced Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that offers AOL members a choice for their voice, e-mail and instant messaging communications.

The service is being introduced in more than 40 markets across the United States, the first phase of a rollout across the country that will continue to additional cities over the coming months. The company says that the service will offer cost-saving pricing over traditional telephone service and an enhanced suite of integrated voice and online messaging features.

For the AOL Internet Phone Service alone, AOL members can choose from three price plans with introductory offer rates. A Local Plan is available, costing US$13.99 per month for the first three months for unlimited local and regional calls and US$0.04 per minute for long distance calls anywhere in the US and Canada, costing US18.99 per month thereafter.

An Unlimited Calling Plan costing US$24.99 per month for the first three months for one flat fee for local and long distance calls within the US and Canada ($29.99 per month thereafter) is also available, and the company offers the Global Calling Plan, at US$29.99 per month for the first three months, including unlimited local and long distance calls within the US and Canada and low international rates (US$34.99 per month thereafter).

Steve, Wl Com, on asterisk-biz writes:

The Mexican PGR arrested two people connected with
Vonage here in Mexico. The arrest team included members of SCT
( and Comission Federal de
telecomunicaciones (
Reason. Operating in Mexico without a Local concession and using VOIP for
transporting traffic outside of Mexico without a Long Distance concession.

On Slashdot, xs3 writes:

At a recent ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) meeting in Los Angeles, a team of FBI agents demonstrated current WEP-cracking techniques and broke a 128 bit WEP key in about three minutes. Special Agent Geoff Bickers ran the Powerpoint presentation and explained the attack, while the other agents (who did not want to be named or photographed) did the dirty work of sniffing wireless traffic and breaking the WEP keys. This article will be a general overview of the procedures used by the FBI team.

DAVID PADDON, cnews reports:

TORONTO (CP) — Companies that sell Internet telephone service to the public must provide at least basic emergency 911 service, Canada’s telecommunications regulator ruled Monday.

“It’s quite a sweeping decision that says 911 is fundamental to telephone service in Canada and if you’re going to offer phone service here, you must offer it,” commented telecom industry consultant Ian Angus.

S. SRINIVASAN, The Associated Press, via Slashdot, reports:

BANGALORE, India (AP) - Four years ago, a low-cost handheld dubbed the Simputer was touted as a way to give villagers in poorer countries access to computing power. That dream remains elusive.

Very few Indian villagers have even seen one, and the government agencies and nonprofits that were target buyers have barely bitten.

Meager sales of the device, designed by Indian scientists for easy sharing by a community, come instead from businesses and city dwellers who already had access to technology.

“It has not yet reached the rural market in a big way,” rued Swami Manohar, co-inventor of the Simputer and CEO of Picopeta Simputers, a company selling the device.

Picopeta has sold fewer than 2,000 units in the past 12 months, far below the target of 50,000. Worse, only 10 percent of those Simputers were bought for rural use.

Encore software, the other company making Simputers, also sold about 2,000 units.

Eric Auchard, Reuters, via Slashdot, :

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Five years after the tech boom went bust, there’s a dearth of million dollar or billion dollar ideas, or so some fret.

But it doesn’t mean that there is no smart new technology to wow consumers. It’s just that people are finding more efficient ways to do it.

Maybe that’s because it has never been easier to create potent technology hybrids that mix-and-match hardware components, use a bit of borrowed software code, and require only a few thousand dollars of investment.

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