Imagine you’ve gone through a multiple week process to purchase an automobile.
You know the drill. Research every feature, pick your color, then, it’s negotiations for purchase price and for trade-in. Everything is done and agreed-apon, and excited, you are ready to hand over the check and collect your new car.
You are handed a slip of paper and told to mark your right thumbprint in a box. The paper says clearly that it’s a request, for your protection, and to prevent your identity theft.
When you politely decline, the dealership refuses to sell you the car.
This is precisely what happened to me today when I tried to purchase a new X3 at the South Bay BMW dealer in Torrance, California.
Let me restate: In order to buy a car, with cash, you must authorize the release of your official DMV-recorded thumbprint to the dealership. This is not a law, this is a “dealership policy.” More on that in a minute.
The resident fat cat was phoned, taking our call from his vacation spot in Hawaii. He replied that the collection and storage of biometric data is his policy.
He would not make any exceptions. The sales staff was clearly paralyzed here – they’d spent time making this sale happen too.
“He pays our salary, and that’s his rule,” they said.
“Well, customers pay his salary, and if he keeps treating them like criminals, I can’t imagine he’ll be able to afford many more trips to Hawaii,” I replied.
I might as well have been talking to the carpet.
The NFL has violated the DMCA, ignoring the law’s dispute resolution system and sending a second takedown notice to YouTube demanding that it censor Wendy Seltzer’s clip from the Superbowl. Wendy, a former EFF lawyer who founded the Chilling Effects project and now teaches at Brooklyn Law, grabbed a clip of the NFL’s ridiculous copyright warning from the Superbowl and posted it to YouTube. The NFL sent a takedown notice to YouTube, Wendy sent a counter-notice, and now the NFL is supposed to go to court to pursue its claim.
But instead, the NFL just sent another takedown notice — something that is illegal, “knowingly materially misrepresent[ing] … that material or activity is infringing.” Of course, YouTube took the material down anyway (they have a pattern of sucking up to rightsholder groups instead of standing up for their users), showing that the weak, ineffectual user protections in the DMCA are routinely ignored by rightsholders and ISPs.
The DMCA way for NFL to challenge that, per 512(g)(2)(C), would be to “file an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material,” which they haven’t. Sending a second notification that fails to acknowledge the fair use claims instead puts NFL into the 512(f)(1) category of “knowingly materially misrepresent[ing] … that material or activity is infringing.”
If the NFL deigned to respond, I expect they would argue something like “the volume of material is so high, we can’t possibly keep track of all the claims of non-infringement. Our bots are entitled to a few mistakes.” But if they’re not able to keep track of the few counter-notifications they’ve received (the YouTube URL and page stayed the same at all times it’s been up), how can they demand that YouTube respond accurately and expeditiously to all the DMCA notifications they send, or worse, filter all content as Viacom is demanding?
Everybody knows that Windows Live Search, Microsoft’s little search engine that could, lags far behind Google and Yahoo! in the race to capture eyeballs. Here’s one place where the software juggernaut’s offering leads the pack: referrals for sites that actively try to infect end users’ machines with some of the vilest malware known to man.
According to researchers at Sunbelt-Software, Live.com’s affair with malicious sites runs so torrid that malware-related returns on the search engine number in the thousands. Terms that trigger similar results tend to be Italian phrases, including, to name a few, “adsl offerta toscana,” “istituto geografico italiano,” “dvd da scaricare” and “testi reggae.”
A Microsoft representative says in a statement that “to the extent that spammers are successful in essentially manipulating results, they will hurt the user experience on all search engines”.
That left us scratching our heads for a couple reasons. For one, the same search terms don’t appear to generate malicious returns on Google or Yahoo!, so how can the rep claim this is an industry-wide problem? And for another, what does spam have to do with this? We’re wondering if our inquiry got mixed up with someone else’s.
Some of the crud being returned on Live.com is sneakier than others. Many returned links, for instance one at www.lassi.com.es, don’t attempt to infect PCs using a US-based IP address. Machines with IP addresses from Italy and possibly elsewhere are not so fortunate.
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library
has 200,000 historic maps and 5,000 atlases. A whole heap of them is online in very high resolution and you can explore the collection by location, subject, date, publisher, author and projection. They give virtual tours, select a map of the month and have a section called Maps in the News, where they profile Darfur and Iraq.
Drifting around the Earth in 2006 July, astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) captured a crescent Moon floating far beyond the horizon. The captured above image is interesting because part of the Moon appears blue, and because part of the moon appears missing. Both effects are created by the Earth’s atmosphere. Air molecules more efficiently scatter increasingly blue light, making the clear day sky blue for ground observers, and the horizon blue for astronauts. Besides reflecting sunlight, these atmospheric molecules also deflect moonlight, making the lower part of the moon appear to fade away. As one looks higher in the photograph, the increasingly thin atmosphere appears to fade to black.
An Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, passes a taxiing Qantas Airlines Boeing 747 after touching down at Los Angeles International Airport on the inaugural visit of the superjumbo jet to Los Angeles, Monday, March 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
With bidding stalled on some of the least desirable residences in Detroit’s collapsing housing market, even the fast-talking auctioneer was feeling the stress.
“Folks, the ground underneath the house goes with it. You do know that, right?” he offered.
After selling house after house in the Motor City for less than the $29,000 it costs to buy the average new car, the auctioneer tried a new line: “The lumber in the house is worth more than that!”
As Detroit reels from job losses in the U.S. auto industry, the depressed city has emerged as a boomtown in one area: foreclosed property.
It also stands as a case study in the economic pain from a housing bust as analysts consider whether a developing crisis in mortgages to high-risk borrowers will trigger a slowdown in the broader U.S. economy.
Steve Izairi, 32, who re-financed his own house in suburban Dearborn and sold his restaurant to begin buying rental properties in Detroit two years, was concerned that houses he thought were bargains at $70,000 two years ago were now selling for just $35,000.
At least 16 Detroit houses up for sale on Sunday sold for $30,000 or less.
A boarded-up bungalow on the city’s west side brought $1,300. A four-bedroom house near the original Motown recording studio sold for $7,000.
“You can’t buy a used car for that,” said Izairi. “It’s a gamble, and you have to wonder how low it’s going to get.”
Major premise: Peer-to-peer file sharing harms for-profit copyright piracy.
Minor premise: Some for-profit copyright piracy aids terrorism.
Conclusion: Peer-to-peer file sharing fights terrorism.
Gilles Oriol, product marketing manager for Western Europe at SonyEricsson, declined the opportunity to talk directly about Apple’s iPhone. “We do not comment on rival products,” he said.
But, he told the BBC News website, that he “doubted” that SonyEricsson would ever make a phone that only had a touchscreen.
“It must remain a good telephone first,” he said, “consumers are more willing to dial a number with the keyboard than they are to do it with a touchscreen.”
“Also,” he added, “the point about a touchscreen is that it affects battery time. You need a powerful battery because to use the touchscreen means it remains on all the time.”