Friday, August 26, 2005

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Published: Friday August 26, 2005

Boy, this new Voice over FCC service really bites

By JOHN PACZKOWSKI

VoIP customers who've ignored recent e-mails or letters about possible problems with their 911 service have another month to respond or see their service cut off. This morning the Federal Communications Commission extended to September 28th its previous Tuesday deadline for customers to officially acknowledge the possible shortcomings with VoIP 911 calls (see "FCC: So get up, get, get, get down, VoIP 911 is a joke in yo town"). "Treating these notices as junk mail is not an option," said Ryan Lippe, who has been sounding the alarm on behalf of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates. "Consumers need to treat them seriously if they want to keep service." And it seems many are. A Vonage spokesperson told the Associated Press that about 96 percent of its U.S. subscribers have responded to its 911 notices. But that means some 30,000 have failed to. If they don't by the end of September, the FCC will raise their awareness of VoIP's 911 issues for them with a government-sponsored outage. The FCC describes the move as a "safeguard," but others don't quite see it that way. "While there are likely instances where consumers may not be able to directly access emergency services through 911, at least they continue to have some telecommunications capability to contact emergency responders by means other than 911," Florida PSC Chairman Braulio Baez wrote in a letter dated Aug. 16. "Disconnecting consumers removes even this option."
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Q  U  O  T  E  D

"Part of this is the fact that the movies may not have lived up to the expectations of the audience, not just in this year, but in years prior. Audiences have gotten smart to the marketing, and they can smell the good ones from the bad ones at a distance."

-- Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, admits that perhaps bad films and lousy moviegoing experiences, not peer-to-peer technology, are responsible Hollywood's box office slump
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Idiot: Google stole my porn: Apparently Perfect 10's copyright infringement suit against Amazon didn't generate the publicity it had hoped for, because now the skin mag has filed suit against Google as well. On Wednesday, Perfect 10 asked a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to enjoin Google from displaying pictures and links to the company's copyrighted photos. Perfect 10 objects to Google search results displaying thumbnails of its photos, along with the links to third-party sites offering larger versions. The pictures are copyrighted, and nearly all the sites indexed by Google are displaying them without permission. "In some cases, as many as 96% of Google search results on Perfect 10 model names go not to Perfect10.com, but to infringing Google AdSense partners of which Google has received notice," said Dr. Norm Zada, a former IBM computer science research staff member who founded Perfect 10 after stumbling upon his true calling in 1997. "That's not legitimate search."

That's not legitimate search? Please. What about the legitimacy of suing a third party for not enforcing your copyrights? Perfect 10 should be pursuing the Web sites that have allegedly stolen its nudie photos, not the search companies that indexed them. But wait, Zada's not done yet. "Google's extraordinary gain in market cap from nothing a few years ago to close to $80 billion is more due to their massive misappropriation of intellectual property than anything else," says Zada. "Google is currently displaying over 3,000 Perfect 10 copyrighted images and linking them to Web sites containing numerous other Perfect 10 copyrighted images and in many cases ads for which Google earns revenue. Google is no longer a legitimate search engine. It is a commercial advertising operation determined to increase ad revenue regardless of what rights it tramples on in the process." Zada went on to predict a dire future for all copyright content. "If all an infringer needs to avoid liability is to provide some sort of a 'search function,' that will be the end of intellectual property in this country." Unbelievable. I'm sure they won't do this, but if I were Google, I'd remove Perfect 10 from its index entirely and see how Zada feels when his new registrations plunge.
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Sony planning "employee discount" pricing for PS3? Writing in CNN/Money, Chris Morris offers a compelling theory on Sony's obsession with the PlayStation 3's allegedly high price point (see "PS3 to launch with indentured servitude purchase plan" and "So that's one PS3 -- will that be cash, credit or kidney?"). It's a bluff. Why would Sony do such a thing? To set consumer expectations, and Microsoft's, for a high price and then surprise them with a lower one. "By prepping consumers to spend $400 or $500, then announcing a retail price of $300," Morris explains, "you convince them they're getting a bargain and potentially create an even bigger buying rush than a system launch normally does. Microsoft, meanwhile, scares off some potential buyers with its $400 price tag, giving it a smaller head start in the race to a substantial installed customer base and erasing some of the competitive advantage it has in being first to market."
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And we're mo-capping Ballmer's monkey dance for the alien animations: The Master Chief's going Hollywood. Microsoft's inked a deal to put "Halo" on the big screen. Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox will pay Redmond $5 million plus a percentage of ticket sales to produce and distribute a movie based on the popular first-person shooter as early as the summer of 2007. "You've undoubtedly got questions," Joseph Staten, writer and director of cinematics at "Halo" developer Bungie Studios, said in a posting on the company's Web site. " 'What's the plot? Is it the same as Halo1? Halo2? Who's gonna play the Chief? Scratch that - who's gonna play Cortana? I read somewhere that the script had "bad buzz." Does that mean the movie's gonna suck?' Can't respond to any 'who, what, where' queries without ruining a bunch of cool surprises (there will be Grunts -- that I guarantee), but as far as the quality of the finished film goes … well, the only thing I can say is: so far so good."
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Finally, a place to store my "Surreal Life" archive: Two hundred channels and nothing on, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't record a few hundred hours of mind-numbing reality programming for posterity's sake. What else are you going to do with the biggest digital video recorder on the market? Hitachi uncrated four new DVRs Thursday, among them one model boasting a 1-terabyte hard disk. That's enough storage space for about 128 hours of high-definition digital broadcasting, or two full months of standard analog if you're committed to waiting the FCC out (see "Look, honey, we're buying a $2000 HDTV because Congress told us to"). The device will initially be available in Japan next month for 230,000 yen, about $2,089.95. No plans yet to bring them to Europe or the United States.
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Authors of "men smarter than women" paper plan next study on extended celibacy: Academics in the U.K. profess to have confirmed what male chauvinists have long claimed: Men are smarter than women. According to a study conducted by Professor Richard Lynn and Dr. Paul Irwing, men not only have larger brains than women, but IQs that are, on average, five points higher. The two men, who analyzed the results of more than 20,000 reasoning tests taken by university students around the world, say their study helps explain why many more men than women have won Nobel Prizes or become chess grandmasters. Said Lynn, "Men have larger brains than women by about 10 percent and larger brains confer greater brain power, so men must necessarily be on average more intelligent than women." Lynn, it should be noted, is a serial offender when it comes to controversy. In 1996, he claimed professional and middle classes are superior to the underclass in terms of intelligence and moral character. And in 1991, he asserted white people are cleverer than black people.
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Off topic:The 2007 Beloit College Mindset List (Thanks Rand), A 1930s era Masonic prank catalog (Thanks Freddi) and Steve! Don't Eat it, especially Vol. 7: Cuitlacoche (Not suitable for those with an aversion to profanity; Thanks Rob)

Send a happy Mac/sad Mac sweater to Jpaczkowski@realcities.com.

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

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