Tuesday, August 16, 2005

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Published: Tuesday August 16, 2005

Debate over .xxx domain slowly builds toward climax

By JOHN PACZKOWSKI

The dot-xxx domain seems to be suffering from a case of electoral dysfunction (see ".asinine"). Scheduled to receive final approval today, the domain -- a virtual red-light district for providers of pornographic content -- has been becalmed by fast-growing opposition. In a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Michael Gallagher, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department, asked that approval of the planned domain be postponed pending further study. "The Department of Commerce has received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children," Gallagher wrote. "The volume of correspondence opposed to creation of a .xxx (domain) is unprecedented. Given the extent of the negative reaction, I request that the board (provide) adequate additional time for these concerns to be voiced and addressed before any additional action takes place." The Department of Commerce isn't the only agency suggesting ICANN put the brakes on .xxx. ICANN's Government Advisory Committee recommended a similar course recently as well, noting a "strong sense of discomfort" over the domain in a number of its member countries. All of this leaves ICANN in a difficult position and one for which the agency has no one to blame but itself. "[ICANN's board is] supposed to be picked for technical competence," Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, told News.com. "They're not elected. They're not representative of anything much. Who would pick this group of people to make decisions about how we feel about (domains) with sexual connotations?"
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Q  U  O  T  E  D

"The impedance of the Earth (according to the Tesla mailing list) is 400uf. All Google has to do is design, patent and build the first 802.400uf (oh yeah, write the 802.400uf standard) transmitter and connect it to the Earth ... oh and figure out where one would ground that to. Anyway, Google will surely turn the Earth into a giant WiFi hotspot. Then in Q2 2006 they will wipe out disease. Finally, in August 2007 Googlenet becomes self aware..."

-- One Slashdot reader comments on rumors that Google is planning a global free WiFi service
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Go ahead, blame the media ... Turns out illicit downloading isn't the biggest problem affecting sales of legitimate music; it's homemade CDs. "CD burning is a problem that is really undermining sales," Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America told the Associated Press before addressing the National Association of Record Merchandisers convention in San Diego last Friday. Bainwol said 12 percent of all households are burning CDs and 17 percent are burning more than ten CDs per month, and he assumed, as one would expect an RIAA heavy to, that those burned CDs are largely illegitimate. No chance that they're a burn of music purchased via iTunes or a backup copy of a legitimately purchased CD for play in the car, apparently. Nope. Consumers are ripping off the recording industry again and clearly we need to be stopped. How? Digital rights management, of course. "[Copy protection technology] is an answer to the problem that clearly the marketplace is going to see more of," Bainwol said.
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Funny thing -- I had that patent app all set to go, and I thought I hit "Send" ...Steve? Steve?! Yes, Microsoft filed patents on key technology used in the iPod five months before Apple. And yes, those patents figured prominently in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejection of an Apple application for a patent on part of its iPod user interface. But that doesn't mean Apple will soon be forced to pay royalties to Microsoft for every iPod it sells. Why? Well, for one thing, the Microsoft patent hasn't yet won approval. And for another, it's on a technology that was on the market before the patent was ever filed. "[The Microsoft patent] will not be approved because of this little thing called Prior Art," Kevin Aylward writes over at Wizbang!. "As you might have guessed, you can't patent something someone else is already shipping. Further in the U.S. we use a "First to Invent" method rather than a "First to File." Clearly since the Apple product was ~you know~ shipping, they invented it before Microsoft and clearly the MS application was not novel. So why did Apple wait so long for the patent application? Probably because it just was not important. (And you aspiring inventors should know this.) Once you ship (or publish info about) an invention you lose the right to patent it. Apple will lose on appeal and frankly, I'm not even sure why they bothered, probably only because Microsoft filed."
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Gateway considers changing name to Egress: Investors took the stick to Gateway this morning, dealing the PC maker a merciless beating after it slashed its sales and earnings forecasts for the year. Though the company had reported its first profit in 3½ years, its lower guidance, as well as disconcerting business trends, had shareholders running for the exits. Gateway shares tumbled as much as 18 percent in early trading today. "Our big issue with Gateway remains that while we believe they're gaining traction in the retail channel, we're concerned that the second half will get harder for Gateway as HP and Toshiba defend their market share, in particular in the notebook segment in the reseller channel," Bill Fearnley, Jr., an analyst with FTN Midwest Securities, told the L.A. Times. "We expect HP and Toshiba to be very aggressive in pricing and promotion."
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Plus, we can finally put Coit Tower to good use ... Last October during his State of the City Address, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, "We will not stop until every citizen has access to free wireless Internet service. These technologies will connect our residents to the skills and jobs of the new economy. No San Franciscans should be without a computer and broadband connection." Well, it may be that Newsom is about to make good on that promise. Business 2.0 reports Newsom is planning a press conference tomorrow detailing a citywide WiFi initiative for San Francisco. No real details other than that, although B2 wonders if Feeva, a Bay Area startup that's already established two WiFi hotspots in the city might play a roll in pushing such a plan forward.
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Off topic: Elvis the robocat (yes, it's a parody), a Speak & Spell emulator and a hillbilly tribute (Thanks everyone)

Send magnetic acoustic weapons to Jpaczkowski@realcities.com.

Good Morning Silicon Valley is written and edited with the able assistance of John Murrell.

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