HIGH-TECH HOAX

I love stories about gullible people duped by magic tricks. It makes me feel proud to be a skeptic.

A Florida newspaper is running a series about Madison Priest, a good ol’ boy who got millions of dollars from people who should have known better. He promised he was developing a box that could convert plain copper phone lines into high-speed pipelines for data and video, four times faster than the most advanced fiber-optic cables. […] continued

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HOW ORACLE SCREWED CALIFORNIA

It’s either sad or amusing to read how Oracle suckered the state of California into buying millions of dollars of software and licenses that the state didn’t need, covering more people than the state actually employs. The papers have caught the highlights, but The Register adds a couple of extra juicy details. […] continued

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CITIZENS FOR A MURDER-FREE AMERICA

Any Philip Dick fans out there? Take a look at Precrime, the web headquarters of Citizens for a Murder-Free America. Precrime proposes using a revolutionary new technology called previsualization that allows police detectives to witness, verify, and halt murders before they occur.

It’s just for fun, of course. It’s part of the marketing for Minority Report, the summer movie by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise, based on a Philip Dick story. […] continued

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SEGWAY

I feel like I missed something obvious. Maybe you already knew this.

Remember the Segway scooter created by Dean Kamen and announced in December? Battery-powered, using computers and gyroscopes to make it almost impossible to tip over. Kamen has a wheelchair going through final FDA tests that uses some of the same technology to make it impossibly stable. […] continued

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PRIVACY INVASIONS AND THE PATRIOT ACT

According to this story, the Patriot Act (passed last October) has produced results that might take you by surprise. The Patriot Act gave law enforcement officials expanded authority to subpoena information without a court order. The result is that the telecommunications industry and Internet service providers face an escalating barrage of subpoenas for subscriber lists, personal credit reports, financial information, routing patterns that reveal individual computer use, even customer photographs. […] continued

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COSTCO DEALS

Some good deals at Costco right now.

A stack of 100 blank TDK CDRs is $29.99 at the register, and there’s a $20 rebate from Costco. (Unlike other rebates, Costco processes rebate forms quickly and actually mails the checks.) Ten bucks for a hundred blank CDRs! Incidentally, don’t be confused – these are labeled “Data CDRs,” but they are perfectly good for music CDs as well. […] continued

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TIME WARNER HELL

Two announcements from Time Warner today that should strike fear into your heart, as we move into a future controlled by corporations and inundated by advertising.

America Online plans to increase the intensity of advertising on AOL and Time Warner web sites. (You thought it was bad already? Chuckle. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.) Later this year, it will increase its reliance on “rich media advertisements” – video, audio, animation and 3D effects that can cause little race cars to break free from their pop-up windows and race around the screen or whatever else the marketing geniuses come up with. […] continued

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GENDER GRAMMAR

I don’t know if this is correct, but it’s interesting. The Register quotes from a Microsoft technical note that uses “she” to refer to actions by a potential hacker, and adds this comment:

All right, I’m only going to say this once: ‘He’ is the singular indefinite pronoun in English (“if a person drinks too much, he will likely experience a hangover”).

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YOUNGSTERS ARE ALL THUMBS

According to a new study (reported in the Guardian Unlimited Observer), the thumbs of people under 25 have become the hand’s most muscled and dextrous digits. Almost all people over 25 rely on their forefinger as their hand’s primary tools, but under-25s have grown up with handheld technologies – mobile phones, GameBoys, and computers – and they are more likely to instinctively use their thumbs. […] continued

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THE REGISTER COMES TO THE U.S.

The Register is one of the best online sites for tech news and gossip. It’s one of my daily stops. The original site is based in Britain and has a fair amount of local news. Today a U.S. edition of The Register was unveiled – same content, but without the local British coverage. […] continued

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R.I.P. CHUCK JONES

Chuck Jones, legendary animation director and artist, best known for his work on the Looney Tunes cartoon series, died on Friday. Jones helped bring to life many of Warner Bros. most famous characters — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig – and he created Road Runner, Wile E. […] continued

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THE NEWS IS OR ISN’T AMBIGUOUS

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that America Online was in negotiations to buy Linux manufacturer Red Hat – leading to lots of talking heads speculating about the possibility that AOL would make a head-on assault against Windows on the desktop.

Today, America Online denied the reports in particularly vigorous terms. […] continued

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SALE ON BLANK CDRS

If you need to stock up on blank 80-minute CDRs, Amazon has spindles of 50 Fuji CDRs for $14.99, with free shipping. Good deal!

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THE SCOOTER FORMERLY KNOWN AS GINGER

The “Segway Human Transporter” is out in the open now – Dean Kamen’s battery-powered, highly balanced scooter that caused a hubbub when some high-tech folks gushed enthusiastic and it leaked into the press. I kind of like the looks of it (here’s The New York Times article about it). […] continued

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KAISER BUYS WEBVAN ASSETS

A fascinating look at technology recycling – and a sobering example of how little the assets of failed dot-coms are worth. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals is taking over Webvan’s lease on its giant Oakland warehouse and buying the software and machinery to run Webvan’s highly automated equipment.

Webvan spent twenty million dollars on equipment for high speed distribution, and one hundred million dollars developing the software to run the warehouse. […] continued

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