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February 23, 2005

Tin Foil Hat, Anyone? [4:23 pm]

The fact that this complaint can be made and not immediately discredited carries its own message about technology and alienation: Lawsuit Says HP Printer Cartridges Die Before Use

A Georgia woman has sued Hewlett-Packard Co., claiming the ink cartridges for their printers are secretly programed to expire on a certain date, in some cases rendering them useless before they are even installed in a printer.

The suit filed in Santa Clara Superior Court in northern California last Thursday seeks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased an HP inkjet printer since Feb. 2001. [...]

[...] HP ink cartridges use a chip technology to sense when they are low on ink and advise the user to make a change. But the suit claims those chips also shut down the cartridges at a predetermined date regardless of whether they are empty.

“The smart chip is dually engineered to prematurely register ink depletion and to render a cartridge unusable through the use of a built-in expiration date that is not revealed to the consumer,” the suit said.

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The Perils Of Running A Telecommunications Network [7:55 am]

Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous:

  • Experts: New sub can tap fiber-optic cables [pdf]

    The USS Jimmy Carter, set to join the nation’s submarine fleet Saturday, will have some special capabilities, intelligence experts say: It will be able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.

    [...] The Jimmy Carter, like other submarines, will also have the ability to eavesdrop on communications — what the military calls signal intelligence — passed through the airwaves, experts say. But its ability to tap undersea fiber-optic cables may be unique in the fleet.

    [...] “The capacity of fiber optics is so much greater than other communications media or technologies, and it’s also immune to the stick-up-an-antenna type of eavesdropping,” said Jeffrey Richelson, an expert on intelligence technologies.

    To listen to fiber-optic transmissions, intelligence operatives must physically place a tap somewhere along the route. If the stations that receive and transmit the communications along the lines are on foreign soil or otherwise inaccessible, tapping the line is the only way to eavesdrop on it.

  • Hungry field mice knock out phone network [pdf]

    Hungry field mice caused a 20-hour telephone blackout in central Sweden on Tuesday by gnawing through cables, telecom operator TeliaSonera said.

    Fixed-line phone connections for more than 1,500 homes in Jamtland and Medelpad in central Sweden, were severed late on Monday by hungry rodents chewing their way through a fibre-optic cable near the town of Ange.

    Mobile phones were also cut off.

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Post’s Krim Surveys The Grokster Landscape [7:39 am]

Technology Sparks New Legal Debate [pdf]

“The content people will tell you that everything that is not authorized . . . is infringing,” [Gary Shapiro of the CEA] said. “This is the corporate equivalent of living under a tyrannical dictator. You are not breaking the law, but you want to keep your head down and not be noticed because the dictator randomly kills.”

[...] [The MPAA's Fritz] Attaway argues that product and service providers who base their businesses around piracy should not be able to hide behind the mantle of innovation.

“Why should device manufacturers be exempt from all possibility of litigation?” he asked.

[...] Some who are concerned about the Grokster case say no matter what the Supreme Court does, the movie studios and recording labels are ultimately fighting a losing battle by trying to bottle up new technologies.

“We are moving into a world where access to information is more democratized,” said Brad Burnham, a New York venture capitalist who works with early-stage media companies. “It’s too easy to move it around. Value is going to shift from the creation of content to the organization and customization of that content.”

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A Look at the DRM Arms Race [7:20 am]

For Users, Napster of Old Is Just a Few Tweaks Away

Glenn Shannon, a programmer in Tucson, first publicized the technique several weeks ago on the Web site CDFreaks.com. From there, the method moved to blogs and news sites. Napster responded on Wednesday by posting a message from its chief technical officer, Bill Pence, that played down the problem, saying the method “can be likened to the way people used to record songs from the radio onto cassette tapes.”

If so, these were some fancy tape recorders. In online comments, people said they were downloading around the clock and converting dozens of songs at a time by running multiple copies of WinAmp on one computer.

“We offer a service for people who believe artists should be paid for their work,” said Dana M. Harris, a spokeswoman for Napster. “If people disagree with that, they’re going to find ways to get around it.”

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