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August 24, 2007

iPhone Unlocked - For Now [2:44 pm]

NJ Teen Unlocks IPhone From AT&T Networkpdf

A 17-year-old hacker has broken the lock that ties Apple’s iPhone to AT&T’s wireless network, freeing the most hyped cell phone ever for use on the networks of other carriers, including overseas ones.

[...] The hack, which Hotz posted Thursday to his blog, is complicated and requires skill with both soldering and software. It takes him about two hours to perform. Since the details are public, it seems likely that a small industry may spring up to buy U.S. iPhones, unlock them and send them overseas.

“That’s exactly, like, what I don’t want,” Hotz said. “I don’t want people making money off this.”

He said he wished he could make the instructions simpler, so users could modify the phones themselves.

[...] Since the details of both hacks are public, Apple may be able to modify the iPhone production line to make new phones invulnerable. [...]

Later: With Software and Soldering, a Non-AT&T iPhone

“We’re a bit paranoid about privacy because we don’t know how things are going to evolve,” said one group member, who identified himself only as Jim in a brief phone interview.

His caution stems from the murky legal status of unlocking cellphones.

Last fall, the Librarian of Congress issued an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ruling that people can legally unlock their cellphones. But the ruling does not specifically apply to people like Mr. Hotz and the iPhoneSimFree group who distribute the unlocking tools.

Apple and AT&T could conceivably sue such distributors under the copyright act. The companies could also argue that people sharing modifications to iPhones are interfering with a business relationship, between Apple and AT&T and the customers.

[...] Mike McGuire, an analyst at the research firm Gartner, says that even though few consumers will try these sophisticated alterations, the iPhone modifications point to “the rather rapid erosion of the carrier control of handset distribution.”

“This has been going on for a while,” he said, “and this is the latest salvo.”

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College Roommates in the Internet Age [9:55 am]

College roomies meeting face to Facebookpdf

Colleges typically provide students with the name and e-mail address or phone number of their new roommate. Now students are able to find out much more by looking them up through networking Web sites.

In some cases, parents have called university officials to complain about their son or daughter’s assigned roommate based on an online profile. For the most part, though, such sites have helped students make friends before arriving on campus and figure out who’s bringing the minifridge.

[...] SPU has received a few phone calls from concerned parents who didn’t like what they saw on the profile of their child’s new roommate — a student who looked like she partied too much and another who made a joke in poor taste. The university never received such calls two years ago, said Kimberlee Campbell, director of residence life.

Officials caution students and parents against making assumptions or judging people based on their online profiles. Seattle University, in fact, specifically suggests during summer orientation that incoming freshmen call their roommates

“We explicitly tell them that they need to have a … conversation with their roommate,” said Romando Nash, director of housing and residential learning communities. “Facebook is not communicating. Talking to a person is still the best form of communication.”

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A Byzantine Tale [9:06 am]

Three Mo’ Tenors - Naked Boys Singing!

The endless line of people who have a notion for a new jukebox musical or television talent show is proof of a legal point: nobody owns an idea. But that doesn’t mean the battles over exactly who owns what aren’t some of the hairiest in the theater business.

[...] Actually, the need for such distinctions goes back several years to a heated dispute between the producers and the first three singers to appear in “Three Mo’ Tenors,” a conflict that has led to multiple lawsuits.

[...] But the producers drew up a series of agreements for Mr. Cook, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Young that, among other things, forbade them from using the name “Three Mo’ Tenors” once their time in the show was over and prohibited them from performing in a show with a substantially similar repertory. They signed, though Mr. Cook and Mr. Dixon said they had understood that a more formal contract would be negotiated later.

Then came enormous popular and critical success, and with it heated arguments and financial disputes. One of the show’s two producers, acting alone, drew up a new agreement in 2002 with Mr. Cook, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Young that would have let them perform together and describe themselves as the former “Three Mo’ Tenors” if they left the show. But things got uglier, with the producing team breaking apart and the three original tenors going off to perform the show on their own. Meanwhile, the trio and the people behind “Three Mo’ Tenors,” who had hired a new group of singers, both claimed the mantle of authenticity. Lawsuits were exchanged.

In 2005 a judge threw out the 2002 agreement and barred Mr. Cook, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Young from advertising themselves as having anything to do with “Tenors” but allowed them to continue their show, a version of their performance in “Three Mo’ Tenors,” as “Cook, Dixon & Young.”

That did not solve the problem.

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Courting the Technorati [8:54 am]

In Primary, Tech’s Home Is a Magnet

For presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa, the place to be is the state fair. Diners are popular in New Hampshire. But for those visiting Silicon Valley, it’s the Googleplex.

[...] Like auto factories a generation ago, Google is increasingly popular as a place to raise money and speak to a crowd, signifying the larger role that Silicon Valley is playing in presidential politics. Candidates passing through the Valley have never raised so much money so early. In the first half of the year, the computer industry contributed $2.2 million to all candidates in the primary, up from $1.2 million in the first six months of each of the last two presidential primary races.

[...] In a flip from the primary season for the 2000 presidential election, 60 percent of the contributions so far from people in the technology field here are going to Democrats.

Not really related, but funny — the “Ray Hopewood” campaign — Campaigning Not for Your Vote but for Your Dollar

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A Linguistic Tic [8:41 am]

This article on the pending release of Arthur Bremer from prison included a striking sentence that I couldn’t skip noting: Gunman Who Shot Wallace Is to Be Freed

Mr. Bremer has served 35 years of his original sentence, and managed, through credits for good behavior and steady job performance as a prison clerk, to earn an earlier release date, said Ruth A. Ogle, a program manager at the Maryland Parole Commission.

“The computer says he has never had an infraction,” Ms. Ogle said. “Arthur apparently figured out how to stay out of trouble.”

Oh, well, if the computer says he’s a good guy, of course we should let him go!

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You Knew It Was Coming [8:35 am]

A look into the minds of those who are “protecting” us: Role of Telecom Firms in Wiretaps Is Confirmed; Glenn Greenwald deconstructed this yesterday in Mike McConnell’s clear explanation of FISA

The Bush administration has confirmed for the first time that American telecommunications companies played a crucial role in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program after asserting for more than a year that any role played by them was a “state secret.”

[...] Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said the interview “was quite striking because he was disclosing more detail than has appeared anywhere in the public domain.”

“If we’re to believe that Americans will die from discussing these things,” Mr. Aftergood said, “then he is complicit in that. It’s an unseemly argument. He’s basically saying that democracy is going to kill Americans.”

<sarcasm>
And I’m sure that all those Congressmen and Congresswomen who voted for the FISA revisions are going to take this into account. That’s what a representative democracy is about, right?
</sarcasm>

The El Paso Times’ transcript (pdf); also Telecom Firms Helped With Government’s Warrantless Wiretapspdf

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Web Distribution and “TV Entertainment” [8:22 am]

Is it really “TV” when it’s delivered over the internet and viewed on a web browser? The advertisers must be drooling with anticipation: TV takes step into ‘Afterworld’pdf

Now there’s “Afterworld,” an online animated series about a man who wakes up to find most of the world’s population has vanished.

Debuting on MySpace today, “Afterworld” marks one of the most ambitious Internet shows to date, underscoring the evolution of online entertainment from amateur videos to more polished productions.

Created by Santa Monica-based Electric Farm Entertainment, “Afterworld” spans 130 episodes, each lasting two to three minutes. The show’s roughly $3-million budget makes it the most expensive series of its kind to run on News Corp.’s social networking site, which draws more than 115 million active users worldwide each month.

“We’re confident this is going to be an enormous success,” said Jeff Berman, general manager for MySpace TV, which will release the first 10 episodes today. Starting Monday, new episodes will be released daily over the next several weeks.

The show is free and will be supported by advertising revenue, which will require it to sustain an audience to generate enough revenue to make money.

Related: Technology helps reinvent cell phone advertising - pdf

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Brinksmanship Continues in Webcasting Rates [8:15 am]

SoundExchange reaches Web royalties deal — pdf

SoundExchange Inc., an organization that collects royalties for musicians and record companies, agreed with a group representing Internet broadcasters to cap fees at $50,000 a year per webcaster.

[...] The royalties are disbursed to the record labels and the artists. Talks continue on rates for each play of a song. [...]

Another writeup: Music Industry Caps Fees for Webcasterpdf

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Expression [8:06 am]

In their own words — literallypdf

The world was overwhelming, and the thoughts that swirled through her mind in French, English, German or Esperanto echoed that.

So Kisa, 28, a student and translator in Toronto, decided to create her own language, something simple that would help clarify her thinking. She called it Toki Pona — “good language” — and gave it just 120 words.

Ale li pona,” she told herself. “Everything will be OK.”

Kisa eventually sorted through her thoughts and, to her great surprise, her little language took off, with more than 100 speakers today, singing Toki Pona songs, writing Toki Pona poems and chatting with Toki Pona words.

It’s all part of a weirdly Babel-esque boom of new languages. Once the private arena of J.R.R. Tolkien, Esperanto speakers and grunting Klingon fanatics, invented languages have flourished on the Internet and begun creeping into the public domain.

[...] As it turned out, creating the language wasn’t the hardest part. Like many successful conlangers, Brown struggled to maintain control over his creation.

He founded the Loglan Institute in San Diego in the 1970s to bring others into the project, but then was upset when they didn’t agree with his ideas.

Related: German even the Germans don’t likepdf

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