"serious misuse" of surveillance power found in report

Inspector General Fine found that the FBI overreached its authority by heavily using the National Security Letter system. The report has not been denied by the administration and has, in fact, been acknowledged as a "serious problem" by FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thanks to CNet for the heads up.

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Vonage found to have infringed VOIP patents

If the decision written about in this article in the Washington Post stands on appeal, the folks at Vonage will be crying while Verizon laughs all the way to the bank. The ruling by the jury was that Vonage infringed upon 3 patents that Verizon has for VOIP calling, including patents about terminating VOIP calls to the PSTN network. The verdict means that Vonage will have to pay $58M and a royalty of 5.5% going forward (quite a bit less than the $197M and 19% that Verizon had asked for, but still a pretty penny).

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Fortune calls Apple "America's Best Retialer"

An article in Fortune today goes to the heart why Apple's seemingly ill-advised move into the retail world has succeeded. Interesting read.

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Microsoft announces HD Photo format

Microsoft announced at the PMA 07 conference the beta release of their new image file format HD Photo. The company says that it creates smaller file sizes, while producing better output than JPEG and can offer lossless and lossy image compression while retaining full dynamic range and color gamut data from camera sensors. The real news is the availability of plugins for Photoshop on both Windows and OS X, the Windows version in beta now and the OS X version within 60 days when the released plug-ins are done. Yes, it will be universal.

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USPTO to look to the internet for advice

According to an article from the Washington Post, the US Patent an Trademark Office (USPTO) is preparing to allow internet users to review patent applications and leave their comments.

Apple ranks 7th most admired company

Fortune Magazine is out with their America's Most Admired Companies 2007 report and you-know-who made it in the list at #7 overall. They were bested by: GE, Starbucks, Toyota, Berkshire Hathaway, Southwest, and FedEx and managed to squeek by Google for the top tech/computer spot in the overall competition. Amusingly, they still finished (just barely) behind IBM in the most admired computer category and substantially above Xerox and Canon. Interesting to note that Canon, Xerox, and IBM don't make personal computers for sale in the US.

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Lunar eclipse pics

Check out the lunar eclipse picture by Ed Parsons (former CTO of Ordnance Survey) shot in England. Similar shots available all over the net (thanks to digital cameras), but here are a few others I found:

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Software customer support done right

Those of us who have had to either give or receive customer support, here's a posting by Manton Reece (author of a Mac software package called "Wii Transfer") about how to provide good support (and at least one example of how not to). None of this is rocket science, but I think we all need to be reminded from time to time the frustration and aloneness felt by users with a problem and what we can all do to make that better. In this world where far too much communication is done in a dark room with a phone or computer instead of meeting people face to face, making connections with those you support is paramount. Check out his other posts about Mac software development in general.

The patent system vs. real security

The US patent system is under fire again this week (this time by an article in Wired) for putting the rights of patent holders above the research and security implications thereof. In this particular case, the issue is HID Global (ironically self-tagged as "The Trusted Brand") going after a security researcher who has come up with a way to clone RFID proximity cards. This follows on the heels (actually, it precedes in time by 4 days) an NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday program about gene patents and the effect that they have on research into disease.

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US Governent agencies block Vista upgrades inside

Not surprising, and not necessarily for a "good" reason, the US Department of Transportation and the FAA have issued "an indefinite moratorium" on the upgrade to Microsoft's Vista OS , Internet Explorer version 7, and Microsoft Office 2007, according to an article from Information Week.

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