Lots going on this week in the wonderful world of the Internet:
- Stuxnet is a hero.
- WikiLeaks is a villain.
- The New York Times is complicit as it continues to give aid and comfort.
- And as usual, the Department of Homeland Security thinks it is making us “safer and more secure“.
Can they do this without congressional authorization?
COICA, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, a bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee last week unanimously approved (see the list of Senators in favor here), giving Attorney General Eric Holder the right to shut down websites with a court order if copyright infringement is deemed “central to the activity” of the site – regardless if the website has actually committed a crime.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency didn’t wait for Congress, seizing domain names from a group of over 70 copyright infringing websites and leaving behind an ominous looking message from Homeland Security.
In a published report on Sunday, Tech Crunch wrote that Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger reported that the websites themselves and the servers they run on have not actually been seized, just the domains.
“That’s a lot of staff attorney time and trouble to get a big fat nothing out of it, which is exactly what they get going down this road,” writes Denninger. “Why? Because all they can do is redirect the domain pointers which will do exactly nothing when the sites re-register under a top-level domain not under the U.S. government’s jurisdiction – and there are lots of them.”
Tech Crunch further explained that domains under U.S. jurisdiction currently include anything controlled by Verisign which puts .com site owners in a legal relationship with the United States.
According to Denninger, all afflicted site owners need to do is move to a non-U.S. controlled top level domain in order to dodge further ICE seizures.
For example, Torrent-Finder owner Waleed Gad El Kareem said he switched to Torrent-Finder.info as soon as he saw the ICE message on Torrent-Finder.com. He then posted the new site’s address on Twitter.
Tech Crunch advises readers: “If it really is that easy to pick up and move on, it’s hard to believe that the other 70 or so sites won’t find friendlier domains on which to land, rendering ICE’s efforts ultimately futile. If anything, the seizures serve as lesson to all possibly infringing sites – steer clear of the .com top level domain.”
Blogger BigFurHat explains why COICA is censorship.
Israeli Army uses Facebook, exposes draft dodgers
Best guess is that more than 35 percent of Jewish women in Israel don’t join the army because they say they are Orthodox Jews. But the Israeli army suspects that thousands of them are secular, thus eligible to serve.
So the army has come up with a novel method to expose those who lie about their religious practices: the social networking site Facebook. What are the telltale signs these women are falsely claiming they’re exempt from military service? You’ll have to click here to find out.
Facebook moves to trademark “face”
Facebook is just a step or two away from trademarking the word “face”.
So does that mean people won’t be able to use the word unless they pay Facebook for the privilege?
Not quite. The Patent and Trademark Office explains the trademark will apply only to “telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users.”
Trademarking the word “face” isn’t the only strange Internet-related request the P&T Office has processed.
Netflix moves to online streaming service, raises prices
Are you a Netflix subscriber? If so, you’ll soon be getting your movies online instead of in your mailbox.
Netflix Inc. is shifting away from its DVD-by-mail business and will offer unlimited streaming-only subscriptions to U.S. customers for $7.99 a month. The plan will go into effect in January for its current subscribers. New subscribers will see the change immediately.
“For a while, the goal of the company was to change its business model from DVDs to streaming, because it recognizes the DVD has a limited shelf life at this time and streaming has higher margins,” Gabelli & Company analyst Brett Harriss said.
Twitter CEO not sure about company’s future
Where does the hugely successful Twitter go from here? Twitter heads are trying to figure that out.
Internet giants like Google, Facebook and Apple see the 175-million-user micro-blogging platform with dollar signs in their eyes, but despite offers of up to $4 billion, Twitter CEOs aren’t interested yet – they’re still trying to figure out what Twitter will be when it grows up. Execs say the company’s concern right now is that demand from advertisers far exceeds supply, which is why the company is building out its sales team.
Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo’s long term vision for the company: “I am working on clarity around that at the moment. I am currently trying to define what Twitter’s purpose is in the long term. We will be able to be more specific on that answer in the near future.”
Stay tuned. Twitter, already flying high, appears poised to soar even higher.
Real-time Twitter weather reporting
Let it snow! Briton Ben Marsh turned ten inches of snow forecast in the U.K. last weekend into UKSnow, where Twitterers tweeting about the weather in real time have their location coordinates and snow descriptions plotted on a map, as well as streaming in a sidebar. Yet one more innovative use for Twitter! Meteorology-tweet!
Black Friday shoppers monitored from space? Tweeting about it
He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. We’re not talking about Santa here, although satellite photography is being used to tell if you’re doing your Black Friday Christmas shopping at hundreds of malls around the country.
Images produced by eyes in the sky satellites give Chicago-based Remote Sensing Metrics analysts all the research info they need to measure the economy, counting the cars in mall parking lots to see how the numbers correlate to sales and advertising.
While Big Brother was monitoring your moves from above, earthbound twitterers were tweeting about their success or failure at finding a parking spot on the busiest shopping day of the year.
“People are following me to get my parking spot – little do they know, I have no idea where I parked. Haha,” said MrDawson_98.
Some tweets are quite hilarious. Read them here.
Out-of-this-world Christmas gifts
Instead of a chunk of coal in your Christmas stocking, how about a chunk of NASA history – the heat shield from an Apollo space capsule?
Or a gaily wrapped autographed photo of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth? Or an autographed snapshot of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon? How about bits of a map used on the moon or hunks of a tire belonging to the space shuttle?
Believe it or not, the prices are not out of this world at the online Astronaut Store where they range from $40 to $150 for signed portraits of astronauts and items from nearly every era of space travel, including pieces of spacecraft that reached the black sky in its Space Artifact Series.
Sales from the store benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit set up by astronauts. Since 1984, the foundation has provided more than $3 million in college scholarships for students who exhibit exceptional performance in science and technology.
- Cyber Monday bargains bigger and better this year.
- 9 in 10 retailers planning aggressive online promotions.
- So far, online spending up over last year.
- Facebook snaps up big brands for shopping deals.
- Tracking top 100 online business’ holiday sales.
- A sleigh full of online holiday gift-giving ideas.
Want to be a star? Here’s how!
How to get “discovered,” become famous? Just step inside, and former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul will make you a star. Or she’ll try.
Abdul has launched an online kind of talent agency called AuditionBooth with $4 million in investments to connect aspiring rookie talents with casting directors, producers and managers. Showbiz hopefuls will answer casting questions and record casting videos via webcams. It’s free for casting folks, producers and aspiring talents. Abdul and her co-founders expect a percentage of their users will upgrade to a premium service that will give them greater exposure to the right people in the biz.
A look back in time
1954 – Sen. Joe McCarthy censured
Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.
Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Trevor White of Silver Spring, Md., and Claire Benson of Springfield, Mass., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Richard Dreyfuss in his portrayal of Glenn Holland in the 1995 Oscar-nominated movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”
The film tells the story of a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent so that in his “spare time” he can strive to achieve his true goal – compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world.
As Holland discovers, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and as the years unfold, the joy of sharing his contagious passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success, his opus.
The quote was: “Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror, what do you like best about yourself?”
This week’s quote: “You are a Polack, not a Yid. That gives you a privilege, a choice.”
Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!