Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wacky New Inventions

New Scientist lists a number of wacky new inventions:

– Coffee/Bear – Nestec, part of the Nestlé group, has filed patents for a “fermented coffee beverage” that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick

Cellphone chaperone – Sony-Ericsson has filed a patent on turning a cellphone into a remote bugging device. Calls from designated callers, if not answered within a specified number of rings, will autoanswer and allow the caller to listen in. The phone can also be remotely switched to speakerphone mode. Nice try but I think teenagers are too smart to fall for this one – not to mention the privacy implications and possible breach of criminal prohibitions on interceptions of private conversations.

Open Source Insurance

More details are now available at CNET regarding insurance designed to protect against certain risks associated with open source software.

The insurance will cover up to $10 million in damages, including profit losses related to noncompliance with an open-source software license. The policy could, in some cases, cover the cost of repairing code that was found to infringe on open-source licenses such as the General Public License, which is used with the Linux operating system.

Air Canada Charging for Inflight Meals – Lawsuit in Waiting?

Ok. So its not Technology and Internet related (except that I purchased my tickets online). But can you believe that Air Canada has now started charging for in-flight meals (in fairness, they have eliminated the “free” meal. No one is required to pay for their meal and can simply bring their own)? Its obviously something they should be entitled to do on a going forward basis – after all, we’re constantly being told that the airline industry is struggling. But Air Canada has decided to implement the policy retroactively. That’s right. Even for customers who had purchased tickets months ago for flights they have not yet taken. Even though at the time of booking, a “free” meal was included. This cries out for a class action lawsuit.
Continue reading Air Canada Charging for Inflight Meals – Lawsuit in Waiting?

Playing copy-protected CDs may infect PCs

Mark Russinovich discovered that playing a copy-protected CD on his system lead to the installation of a rootkit – a tool often used by virus writers to hide all traces of their work on a computer- and posted a detailed step-by-step account of his findings on his blog.

According to CNET, the creator of the copy-protection software, a British company called First 4 Internet, said the cloaking mechanism was not a risk and that the cloaking function was aimed at making it difficult, though not impossible, to hack the content protection in ways that have been simple in similar products.

Many commentators on the story have raised the concern that proper notice was not being given to users that new software, which is very difficult to detect and delete, would be installed on their computer. Some have even questioned the legality of making such changes on users computers without proper consent.

Sponsored Advertising Invades IM

Although I prefer using multi-platform instant messaging clients such as Trillian, word has it that Microsoft will be included targeted sponsored ads in its new instant messaging client. Intial reports are that Microsoft plans to use demographic information about users who have signed up for MSN products such as Hotmail to target the ads more effectively. Such democraphic information can allow ads to be filtered based on characteristics such as gender, age and other general information about a user.

Hopefully Microsoft will stay away from targeting ads based on the instant messages being exchanged (text, or even voice for that matter!). I can just imagine: boy asks out girl, girl says no, out pops up an ad for an online dating site. Now that’s targeted advertising. I’ll be sticking with Trillian for now.