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November 28, 2003
[ Update: More On The Dutch Spam Wars ]

 Further to my post about the war between a spammer and three Dutch bloggers, I've heard from one of the bloggers, Bas Taart:
I was one of the three bloggers that started the war on CustomerBlast (The spammer), and for the record, I'd like to say that I never went offline due to counterattacks. Customerblast.com however, seems to have seized to exist.
 
I guess we won..
More on this in a future column.

November 27, 2003
[ Update: Diebold Withdraws E-voting Suit? ]

 Further to my column about e-voting a few weeks back, Diebold, maker of electronic voting machines, has apparently withdrawn its suit against an ISP and some individuals for posting leaked company documents about some of the problems with their system.
Stanford Law School reports that Diebold had filed papers with the court saying it ?has decided not to take the additional step of suing for copyright infringement for the materials at issue. Given the widespread availability of the stolen materials, Diebold has further decided to withdraw its existing DMCA notifications and not to issue any further ones for those materials.?
 
No mention of this yet on the Electronic Freedom Foundation's website (which is funding legal protection for the ISP) or Diebold's.

[ News: Segway's First Hit And Run ]

 A Segway rider in San Francisco hit a 3-year-old girl while riding -- illegally -- on one of the city's sidewalks, ABC reports. The man fled the scene (on his Segway).
 
 
The police says it expects to be able to quickly track down the suspect by contacting Segway, and obtaining a list of San Francisco Segway owners. Apparently there aren't that many.

November 26, 2003
[ News: Google In A Mess? ]

 There's an interesting piece in Fortune, apparently, on how Google is a company "in disarray".
 
 
The Register reports that several big names have left because of "the juvenile company culture": No one pays any attention at meetings, because they're fiddling with their toys, reports Fortune.
 

[ News: More Broadband For Cute Sounding Villages ]

 I wrote a few weeks back in my column about how a village in Northamptonshire, England, overcame the failure of the national carrier, BT, to install broadband by building their own Wi-Fi network. Neighbouring villages have taken a different route.
 
The BBC reports that Middleton Cheney, Byfield and some other Northants villages will have access to a broadband service after residents were encouraged to sign online and written petitions by the East Midlands Development Agency.
 
Other villages which will be able to access the faster connection (sorry, but I love the names so I'm listing them here) are Hinton, Woodford Halse, Charwelton, Upper and Lower Boddington, Chacombe, Wardington, Thorpe Mandeville, Farthinghoe and Overthorpe.

[ Update: More DRM Woes For Online Music ]

 Further to my previous post about DRM, or digital rights management, here's a story from IDG News Service about software that may allow Windows-using customers of Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store to break the DRM technology that protects files downloaded from that service.
 
That the guy who posted it -- or hosted it -- is Jon Lech Johansen, also known as "DVD Jon" is interesting. Johansen was arrested in Norway in 1999 after he created software to crack the copy protection on DVDs, according to IDG. He was acquitted on the grounds he was entitled to access information on a DVD that he had purchased, and was therefore entitled to use his program to break the code.
 
This is, as IDG points out, at least the second time since its release on October 16 that restrictions in iTunes for Windows have been circumvented by developers. Bill Zeller's MyTunes application allows Windows users to download music from an iTunes shared playlist over a network.
 
IDG quotes an analyst saying this kind of thing won't necessarily be widely used, due to the low cost of online music. But he does point out that it raises costs for the likes of Apple. So why don't people go the route of Emusic, whose MP3 files are unencumbered by DRM, meaning you can use them anywhere, anytime, and make any number of backups? I use Emusic because the music now belongs to me, physically and absolutely.

[ News: The Future of Music and DRM ]

 For those of you interested in the debate about copyright protection for music (digital rights management, or DRM, as it's called) here's an interesting article from the industry point of view -- and a lively discussion on the lively Slashdot forum (some contributions are more, er, erudite than others).
 
Something I think hasn't been thought through by either side on the debate is that once a product ceases to be purely the property of the holder -- like a CD -- then problems will occur. What happens if I want to sell the music I've downloaded via an online service using DRM? What happens when I want to sell software I've bought that uses an activation feature? In the old days I could just sell my CDs, or CD-ROMs, out of the trunk of my car.

[ Plea: Anyone Hit By Brand-Spoofing? ]

If anyone has been hit by the recent wave of 'brand-spoofing' spam or viruses -- particularly those that appear to be from a bank, or from Paypal or eBay -- could they please drop me a line? I'm very interested in following up on some of these cases for a future column. Reach me here. Anonymity preserved if you'd prefer it.

November 25, 2003
[ News: Blogging For Politicians, Iranian Style ]

 If you need convincing that blogging is not some nerdy fringe activity, here's some: Iranian vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi is a blogger.
 
 
It's in Persian, iranFilter (a collective news blog) says, and is the first blog by a major Iranian politician. It's personal rather than political, but has some nice surprises, such as secret photos of Eduard Shevardnadze, and accounts of personal and unofficial conversations with government ministers.

[ News: Spam Warfare, Dutch Style ]

If you wonder why people don't just go after spammers, vigilante-style, here's why. Three Dutch blogging websites launched an online war against a U.S. spammer, Customerblast.com late last week, and found they'd bitten off more than they could chew. The weblogs, according to The Register, tried to push Customerblast off the web with sustained distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks (basically trying to overload their system with requests for data).
 
Customerblast fought back. On Friday, all three weblogs were inundated with mail bombs, floods and DDOS attacks, forcing them to go offline temporarily. Late Friday afternoon, the weblogs began a second attack. By Monday the spammer had still not recuperated from the attacks. But there's been a downside. One of the Dutch attackers says he was cut off by his Internet Service Provider and now faces ?legal action?.

November 24, 2003
[ Update: More Office Woes ]

 My latest column (subscription only; very sorry) was about Microsoft Office 2003 and how, despite all the upgrades, a lot of old bugs never get fixed. That and why does every new feature appear to be more of a money spinning operation than a time saver?
 
Anyway, I'm not the only grumbler: Chris Pirillo, of Lockergnome fame, is also having problems, with Outlook 2003. "If you rely on POP3 or IMAP, you'll be just as disappointed with the lame UI bugs and inconsistencies that plague Microsoft's latest client".

about loose wire
musings, snippets, grievances and links on personal technology by dow jones columnist jeremy wagstaff. I want to hear from users -- technology-related stories, complaints, thoughts, ideas, brickbats -- so please email me

my columns appear in
The Far Eastern Economic Review and
The Wall Street Journal Online.
both are owned by Dow Jones.

see below for subscription links -- sorry, but the columns are only available to subscribers.

companies, PR agencies etc, please send relevant news, pitches, product review requests here. happy to hear from you, but I stress the word 'relevant'.

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