Broad-patent fighters win reexamination

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) this week won a reexamination of what it says is an overly broad patent, the sixth of 10 patents it has targeted since 2004. The US Patent and Trademark Office agreed to reexamine the patent it granted to Seer Systems in 1999, which covered “a system and method for joining different musical data types together in a file, distributing them over the Internet, and then playing that file.” According to the EEF, music files had already entered the public domain when the patent was filed in 1997. (Ars Technica)

Software lets amateur videographers clean up shaky video

Software that cleans up shaky and dark video developed for the US Central Intelligence Agency is part of a new editing program that MotionDSP will release this spring. Called vReveal, the program uses super-resolution algorithms that fixes bad video by tracking motion in frames to determine if the camera is shaking, and scaling pixel intensity to compensate for dim lighting. The technology isn’t groundbreaking, but it hasn’t been available to average consumers. (Technology Review)

Googlebomb for "miserable failure" could hit Obama

The “miserable failure” Googlebomb that dogged US President George W. Bush for several years could also affect President-elect Barack Obama and other future presidents unless the White House changes its page-naming practices, according to Search Engine Land. In an attempt to thwart malicious links to Bush’s biography, the administration moved the targeted page to another one that serves the sitting president, then redirected all queries from the old page. That change merely sent “miserable failure” searches to the new landing page. Google updated its search engine to deter such pranks in 2007, but Bush’s Googlebomb is still active and comes up on other search engines such as Yahoo and Live Search. (Search Engine Land)


Phishing not a profitable enterprise, study says

Phishing attacks return very little profit for most people involved in the scams, according to a study by two researchers who said that previous estimates were too high. The report’s authors, who work at Microsoft Research, said the phishing business has a low entry barrier, causing profits to shrink as more people try to cash in on attacks. The researchers added that phishing remains a significant problem because of the destruction it causes in lost consumer confidence. (Dark Reading)


Extended capacity format debuts for SD cards

A new, high-end format for secure digital (SD) cards was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, which would increase the maximum capacity to two terabytes. Secure digital extended capacity (SDXC) is set to debut this year with a maximum transfer rate of 104 Mbytes per second. High capacity SD cards have previously been limited to 32 Gbytes. (Daily Tech)

Apple removes DRM from music files, will introduce pricing tier

Apple stripped DRM from most of its iTunes music catalog on Tuesday, part of a new agreement with record companies that also includes variable pricing. Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller announced the change at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, adding that all iTunes songs will be available in the 256 Kbps AAC format by April. Music files will also be separated into three pricing tiers—US$0.69, $0.99, and $1.29. Many older songs will be priced in the lowest tier, while new popular tracks will command the higher price. (Information Week)


Motorola to offer recycled phone

Motorola plans to introduce mobile phones made entirely of recycled plastic bottles at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, according to reports. Called the Moto W233 Renew, the phones require 20 percent less energy to manufacture and  their packaging materials will be green-friendly, the company said. (Network World)

Journalspace deleted from cyberspace

Blogging Web site has been permanently forced offline after a former employee apparently sabotaged its RAID-configured SQL server, the site’s administrators reported. The site went down on 18 December, and administrators discovered at the end of the month that all data on the hard drives was unrecoverable because it had been overwritten. On the site’s home page, the owner admitted fault for relying on RAID as a backup system and said that the domain name is now for sale on eBay. Some of the site’s bloggers—numbering in the thousands—have migrated to Facebook and other blog sites, and some were able to retrieve their data through a Google cache search. (BetaNews)

US military wants to virtually reunite soldiers and families

The US Department of Defense is seeking ideas to create a virtual application that would connect parents serving abroad with their families at home. The program is meant to provide a way for children to interact with their absent parents via realistic conversations. “This is a technologically challenging application because it relies on the ability to have convincing voice-recognition, artificial intelligence, and the ability to easily and inexpensively develop a customized application tailored to a specific parent,” the department said in its solicitation. (Computerworld)

Twitter users hit by hack, phishing scam

An attacker hacked dozens of prominent Twitter accounts—including those belonging to Britney Spears, Barack Obama, and Fox News—on Monday, an incident that Twitter said was unrelated to a widespread phishing scam that ensnared users the preceding weekend. On it official blog, Twitter reported that an individual compromised 33 accounts and sent out racy messages after hacking into the company’s support tools. The security breach came on the heels of a phishing attack that lured users to fake sites with e-mails promising a free iPhone. (ReadWriteWeb, eWeek)

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