All the News That's Fit to Print
Now that the Microsoft tidal-wave is over, we're left wondering what else has gone on this week while we were all starting into the face of evil. Ever vigilant, we've scoured the online wire to find a treasure trove of juicy non-MS stories to share.
First up, some refreshing news in the area of Open Source media. Coming off the wire in Australia is the announcement that the Aussie government is set to adopt the Creative Commons as its license of choice for certain kinds of government information, in particular mapping and weather information imperative in public health situations. While we aren't expecting to find any CC-BY-SA dossiers from the ASIS, having an entire continent go Commoner is an exciting prospect. Equally exciting is the news that CC founder and all-around Free Software guy Lawrence Lessig is considering a run for Congress — a definite win for the Open Source community, not to mention Washington.
Meanwhile, in the world of the proprietary, US cell phone companies were tripping all over themselves this week to announce new flat-rate mobile plans. As we reported earlier in the week, Verizon was the first out of the gate with its $99.99 plan, while AT&T was quick on its heels, offering an identically-priced promotion. Then — practically screaming "me too, me too!" — came T-Mobile, announcing it's own $99.99 offering. Sprint was conspicuously absent from the melee, though analysts are speculating that the company's silence stems from plans to offer the same service for $60, a 40% discount and a surefire way to steal away the competition's subscribers.
While the mobile companies were busy exposing their new promotions, the techs over at Research in Motion were frantically seeking chewing gum and duct tape to hold the tottering Blackberry network together. For the second time in a week, the network face-planted — again over "maintenance issues" — even as Vodafone was announcing a plan to provide a Blackberry-specific recovery network to prevent users from being disconnected when RIM's servers go to hell in a handbasket. Listen up guys: When your partners have to provide a safety net because your network spends more time down than a submarine, it's time to get your act together.
Speaking of networks, Ivy League uber-university Harvard got a kick in the network this week as the website for it's prestigious Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was hacked and its database distributed over BitTorrent. According to reports, a note supposedly from the hacker was included with the torrent, identifying a weak password as the source of the breach. Password security is something everyone should take serious, and apparently, especially customers of Virgin Media. According to The Guardian, Virgin employees have been ringing up customers at random and asking them to confirm their accounts by revealing their passwords. As impossible as it sounds, Virgin confirms the calls aren't a scam, which begs the question: What other kinds of bizarre behaviors are going on at Virgin?
In other interesting news, California-based Emotiv has demonstrated a prototype mind-control headset intended for the ultimate video game experience. The device, which reads brain waves and uses the readings to control items on the screen, will supposedly be available by Christmas 2008. We're moved to wonder what it'll be used for next...
Now, as is often the case when we finish with the "interesting" news, we're off to fashion a fresh tinfoil helmet.