Friday, October 28, 2005

New technology hinders communication

Web User News: "Nearly a third of people say their relationships have suffered because their use of digital technology means they 'talk less'.

And 90 per cent of people surveyed say they feel that email, text messages and instant messaging has made communication with friends and family less personal.

According to the study by PlusNet, email has become the most popular method of communication with friends and family, with 81 per cent of respondents using it. However, 41 per cent of people said they would prefer to receive a phone call. " - Magazine Article - Magazine Article: "Gregory Halpern knows how to hype. Shares of his publicly held company, Circle Group Holdings, quadrupled in price early last year amid reports that its new fat substitute, Z-Trim, was being tested by Nestle'. As the stock spurted from $2 to $8.50, Halpern's 35% stake in the company he founded rose to $90 million. He put out 56 press releases last year.

Then the bloggers attacked. A supposed crusading journalist launched an online campaign long on invective and wobbly on facts, posting articles on his Web log (blog) calling Halpern 'deceitful,''unethical,''incredibly stupid' and 'a pathological liar' who had misled investors. The author claimed to be Nick Tracy, a London writer who started his one-man 'watchdog' Web site,, to expose corporate fraud.He put out press releases saying he had filed complaints against Circle with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Halpern was an easy target. He is a cocky former judo champion who posts photos of himself online with the famous (including Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of this magazine). His company is a weird amalgam of fat substitute, anthrax detectors and online mattress sales. Soon he was fielding calls from alarmed investors and assuring them he hadn't been questioned by the SEC. Eerily similar allegations began popping up in anonymous posts on Yahoo, but Yahoo refused Halpern's demand to identify the attackers. 'The lawyer for Yahoo basically told me, �Ha-ha-ha, you're screwed,'' Halpern says. Meanwhile, his tormentor sent letters about Halpern to Nestl� the American Stock Exchange, the Food & Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Brookhaven National Laboratory (involved in Circle's anthrax deal).

But it turns out that scribe Nick Tracy of London"

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

November spamalanche bears down on PC users : "Consumers should gird for a big wave of unwanted commercial e-mail in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving, when the amount of spam could double as marketers try to reach holiday shoppers, Internet security experts say.
Contributing to the spamalanche: More viruses are spread via popular � and vulnerable � instant-messaging services to infect PCs and turn them into spam-spewing machines. Spammers are sending more e-mail in shorter bursts to overwhelm spam defenses. And blogs have become a fertile ground for spammers to create 'splogs,' fake blogs with ads."

Google Tests its eBay Killer?

eWeek: "Search giant Google, Inc. tipped its hand this week to Google Base, it's much-rumored auction service that many people believe is meant to compete against auction sites like eBay or CraigsList.
Screen shots of 'Google Base,' available on several different Web logs, explain that the service-to-be is a database consisting of 'your content' that's free to contribute.
Items in the database include a party invite or a 'listing of your used car for sale.' There is also a tie-in mentioned to Google's comparison shopping site Froogle, and Google Local, the combination Google mapping and localized search results.
Google said, in a prepared statement, that what the blogs alluded to is an 'early-stage test of a product that enables content owners to easily send their content to Google.'
A Google spokeswoman also confirmed the accuracy of the screen shots, but wouldn't comment further. "

Nothing but the online truth--or else

CNET "If you think that a little white lie, or a big fat lie, won't get you in trouble on the Internet, please think again.

For example, a federal judge in Los Angeles has just barred the allegedly deceptive advertisements of a Web operation that asserted that membership in would allow users of peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to transfer copyright materials without running afoul of the law.

On top of that, the Federal Trade Commission plans to permanently ban these assertions about membership in, seek monetary compensation for consumers, and provide notification to consumers who signed up for membership that use of these file-sharing programs may subject them to civil or criminal liability. "

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Writers Side With Google in Scrap

Wired News: "Google's plan to scan library book collections and make them searchable may be drawing ire from publishers and authors' advocates, but some obscure and first-time writers are lining up on the search engine's side of the dispute -- arguing that the benefits of inclusion in the online database outweigh the drawbacks.
'A cover does sell a book to a certain extent, but once you're intrigued by a cover you want to dig deeper,' said Meghann Marco, whose first book, Field Guide to the Apocalypse, was published in May."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Real money in a virtual world

CNET "An average day in suburbia? Not quite. This is a day inside 'Second Life,' a virtual world created by San Francisco-based game developer Linden Lab.

Welcome to the virtual economy, where currencies such as the Linden dollar trade against the U.S. dollar, companies like Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) create markets for everything from magic shields to potions, and entrepreneurs sell notary services and the latest fashions. One of the most popular games, 'World of Warcraft,' reached 1 million North American players in August, three months ahead of its first anniversary. The games are particularly hot in America and Asia. After 'World of Warcraft' was released in China last June, 1.5 million paying customers signed up in a month.

Such ventures--known as massively multiplayer online role-playing games--have spawned economies that would rival those of a small country but fly largely under the radar of economists, government statisticians and people beyond the 12- to 35-year-old demographic. However, these economies are becoming increasingly important, says Wharton legal studies professor Dan Hunter, adding that they could redefine the concept of work, help test economic theories and contribute to the gross domestic product in the United States. 'Increasingly, these virtual economies are leading to real money trades,' notes Hunter, one of a handful of academics closely following this trend. "

Companies urged to switch PCs off

CNET "Companies should encourage employees to switch off PCs at night or continue wasting money and energy, according to research by Fujitsu Siemens.

In a report released on Monday, the PC maker claimed that about 217 million (123 million pounds) is wasted every year in the U.K. alone powering PCs that could have been shut down or left in hibernation mode. The report also pointed out the environmental impact of all the wasted energy.

Fujitsu Siemens surveyed 1,000 employees and found that some 370 never turned off their computers before leaving the office for the day.

'U.K. businesses need to consider both the financial and environmental implications of leaving a computer running and make turning off their PCs each night a policy,' said Garry Owen, head of product marketing at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, who added that simply putting a computer into standby means it still is consuming power.

Fujitsu Siemens released its report to coincide with the start on Monday of Energy Saving Week, a nationwide initiative aimed at raising the awareness of the damaging effects of climate change and ways to prevent it."

Search Finds a Nerve to Rub Raw

eWeek: "Updated: When is too much information way, way, way too much? When it's creepy.

Internet search technology may be getting too smart for its own good, says Michelle Weil, co-author of the book 'TechnoStress.'

Bleeding-edge search products no longer have to be told what to do. There's a growing number like Watson 2.0, from Chicago, Ill.-based Intellext, which, on their own, selects keywords from a computer file you are working on.

Technical marvels, no doubt. But Weil and other mental health experts believe modern-day search products are going to deeply affect people suffering from technology-induced stress. "

No Longer Safe for Work: Blogs

Wired News: "Robert Mason (not his real name) would love to spend a few minutes during lunch catching up on blog posts from around the web, but his company doesn't allow it. The financial institution where Mason works as a vice president has security filters set up to block access to -- among other things -- any website that contains the phrase 'blog' in the URL.
What's more, says Mason, such practices are becoming prevalent in corporate America, particularly in financial services. Mason sits on a roundtable privacy group of 20 of the country's largest banks. 'My best understanding is that my company's anti-blog stance is the industry norm,' he says."

So who should you call a journalist?

CNET "A renewed effort in the U.S. Congress to create a federal shield law for news organizations is raising a sticky question: Who is a journalist?
A generation ago, the answer usually was clear. Not anymore. Online scribes and video publishers are experimenting with novel forms of journalism, and even the most stodgy news organizations are embracing blogs.
That leaves politicians--hardly the most clued in about all things tech--in something of a quandary. They're being lobbied by professional news organizations and the American Bar Association to approve some kind of journalist's shield law while being urged by prosecutors to leave out bloggers. "