Friday Follies

The goings on about Silicon Valley. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. (The USSR's Valentina V. Tereshkova became the first woman in space almost exactly 20 years earlier, June 16, 1963.) Disney got into the portal "business" by buying Infoseek in 1998 for $70 million.

Happy Birthday Paul McCartney. He's 62.

  1. According to Keynote, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft suffered system slow downs on Tuesday due to a massive and "sophisticated" distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against Akamai, one of the companies that provides them with distribution. Akamai disputes Keynote's portrayal of the outage.

  2. The US House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection has proposed a bill that would regulate spyware, forcing companies to notify consumers before installing monitoring programs on their computers. HR2929, proposed by Mary Bono and Ed Towns, has been dubbed the "Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act," SPYACT, and would also ban keyloggers and pop-up ads that can't be closed. The US Senate is considering a similar bill.
  3. According to CNET, the Senate is also considering a bill which would effectively ban P2P file sharing services like Kazaa and Morpheus. The Induce Act says that "whoever intentionally induces any violation" of copyright law could face fines and prison time. The bill could conceivably ban products like ReplayTV and even VCRs according to some experts. The law is not yet public but could be introduced by next week.
  4. Russian anti-virus company, Kaspersky Labs, claims to have discovered the first cell phone virus. Cabir infects Symbian-based Series 60 phones from Nokia, Siemens, Sony-Ericsson and others and propagates via Bluetooth. The virus writes the word "Caribe" on the screen and runs the battery down by searching for other Bluetooth phones to infect, but is otherwise apparently harmless. Users must accept a Bluetooth file to be infected.
  5. The number one CD in the nation, Velvet Revolver's Contraband, can't be copied to an iPod. The CD is one of a dozen copy protected discs distributed in the US by BMG. The success of the CD despite the label "protected against unauthorized duplication" will likely encourage record companies to use copy protection more widely. The MediaMax technology from SunnComm International can be defeated on PCs by holding down the "Shift" key while the CD is loading. The copy protection scheme prevents ripping the CD to MP3, but the disc contains protected WMA tracks that can be copied to some MP3 players. The WMA tracks don't work on the iPod and other players which don't support Windows DRM. Want to know why copy protection is a bad idea? Read Cory Doctorow's brilliant, and hilarious, speech delivered in the Lion's Den: Microsoft.
  6. U2 lead singer Bono has joined a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elevation Partners will invest in entertainment technology. Not copy protection I'm betting.
  7. Terry Semels, CEO of Yahoo, has donated $25 million to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
  8. Scientists have discovered a gene that makes vole rats monogamous. Genes from the prairie vole can turn the swinging meadow vole into a homebody. That's like turning Frank Sinatra into Pat Boone, yeah he's monogamous but can he sing?

Listen in Friday at 8:35a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.