Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yahoo!'s Flip-Flop on Venue

Back in the year 2000, Yahoo was sued (and lost) in a French court. The judgment ordered Yahoo! to pull out Nazi memorabilia, prohibited by French law, from its auction site. Yahoo! was up in arms over the decision, saying that:

" is not doing anything unlawful. It is completely complying with the law of the country in which it operates and where its target audience is," he said.

"Yahoo auctions in the U.S. are ruled by the legal, moral and cultural principles of that country."

Fast forward to today. Yahoo! is now being sued in the U.S. court for selling out one of its subscribers to be arrested and tortured by the Chinese government. Yahoo! is now singing a different tune, playing the citizen of the world and moving for a dismissal of the U.S. case and urging a shift of venue - to China.

It's not true that the Internet is this inherently un-regulate-able utopia. Government power and corporate interests can converge to produce what in fact could be the most regulated space in history. We can't sit back and trust the network's architecture alone to protect our rights. Just as in the real world, our rights online is something we have to stay vigilant about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seiche Tunnel

I don't know if you have noticed this, but apparently, the whole length of EDSA has WiFi. I just recently discovered this when I fiddled around with my laptop during traffic along the EDSA-Kamuning intersection. Lo and behold, suddenly, my AVG started updating itself. I checked the icon for my WiFi connection, and I saw that it was connected to the Seiche Tunnel Network. However, onw has to buy prepaid cards in order to access the network and surf the net. This is great news. One thing that I am really hoping for is that the whole of UP will have WiFi connection already, so that everywhere one can just connect to the internet. If I'm not mistaken, most top universities in the world have campuses with WiFi connection. This way, no matter where you are on campus, you can always check your Friendster account.

Monday, August 27, 2007


The Internet is the shopaholic's greatest dream and worst nightmare. With online shopping, a girl can shop for hours on end. She is free from the shackles of a complaining husband, pesky salespersons, tired feet from or strained arms. Yet with so much freedom she easily becomes prey to credit card debt, identity fraud and online scams. It makes one think if it's really worth it. As of now, I don't trust myself or other people enough to go online shopping. I prefer the old-fashioned way. It's better cardio.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

American Teen Hacks iPhone

Check this out:

Upon the launch of the iPhone, I caught some news reports of some Filipinos who were one of the first to go in line and buy the iPhone. To their surprise, when they tried to operate it in the Philippines, it didn't work. It's because the iPhone was configured mainly for the AT&T network in the United States. This brings to mind the fact that in fact, in the Philippines, there are so many people who are very adept at unlocking phones, and in fact, it's a cottage industry here in the Philippines. I'm curious whether some Filipinos have already unlocked the iPhone before this teen did it. Maybe our kababayans just don't want the attention, for fear of being criminally prosecuted. I think one liability a user would incur is civil liability for breach of contract. Would a Filipino who unlocks a network specific phone be criminally liable? And what would be the crime?
One interesting thing though is that the person who cracked the iPhone is a 17 year old. Nice.

David Lynch Dumps Film, Goes Digital

David Lynch (great director I admire, and who doesn't) said in a recent interview with MTV that he's quit using film (you know, those celluloid strips used by ancient cameras) and is going digital from now on:

MTV: You shot "Inland Empire" using digital technology. Will you ever go back to film?

Lynch: Never. Digital is so friendly for me and so important for the scenes, a way of working without so much downtime. It's impossible to go back. Film is a beautiful medium, but the world has moved on. The amount of manipulation we can do, anybody can do, is so much the future. Film is so big and heavy and slow, you just die. It's just ridiculous.

Anti-"piracy" rhetoric carry some moral currency when you consider how bloated and expensive film and its related technologies are. Traditional film outfits invest a lot of money, and as a matter of policy, the law should protect their expectation of a reasonable return. But digital technology (lighter, cheaper, more accessible) changes the calculus. When it costs so much less to produce movies, does it still make sense legally protecting old business models?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Compulsory Computer Education Bill filed in House

Finally, a lawmaker recognizes the need to equip Filipinos with basic computer skills. Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that a bill, sponsored by Marikina Rep Teodoro Marcelino, seeking compulsory computer education for elementary and high school students in all private and public schools has been filed at the House of Representatives. I’m crossing my fingers that the bill will get a nod from Congress and passes into law soon. With our globalized society that relies heavily on use of technology, equipping Pinoys with basic computer know-how is but a necessity in order to keep up with the times. Having a technologically advance society or a better educated and globally competitive work force, as Rep. Marcelino hopes, would just be icing on the cake. Read article here.

Sugar Powered Batteries

Now, here's a sweet little piece of news. According to Reuters, Sony has developed an environmentally-friendly prototype battery that runs on sugars and that can generate enough electricity to power a music player and a pair of speakers. The bio battery's casing is made of a vegetable-based plastic. It works by pouring sugar solution into the unit, where enzymes break it down to generate electricity. The company said it aims to produce the batteries for commercial use, without specifying when.

Read the rest of the article here.

Unfortunately, looking at the photo of the the bio batteries above, one can see they are quite bulky. Will it get commercial recognition the company hopes? I don't know, but I certainly would feel awkward using an mp3 player that runs on batteries twice or thrice it's size. I hope Sony would develop a sleeker and more compact design for this one since it sounds like a sweet idea.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

TV is Going Down

A recent IBM-sponsored survey revealed the decline of TV as "Primary Media Device", as people are shifting to digital media. More information from the IBM website.

The global findings overwhelmingly suggest personal Internet time rivals TV time. Among consumer respondents, 19 percent stated spending six hours or more per day on personal Internet usage, versus nine percent of respondents who reported the same levels of TV viewing. 66 percent reported viewing between one to four hours of TV per day, versus 60 percent who reported the same levels of personal Internet usage.

Consumers are seeking consolidated, trustworthy content, recognition and community when it comes to mobile and Internet entertainment. Armed with PC, mobile and interactive content and tools, consumers are vying for control of attention, content and creativity. Despite natural lags among marketers, advertising revenues will follow consumers' habits.

To effectively respond to this power shift, IBM sees advertising agencies going beyond traditional creative roles to become brokers of consumer insights; cable companies evolving to home media portals; and broadcasters and publishers racing toward new media formats. Marketers in turn are being forced to experiment and make advertising more compelling, or risk being ignored.

Those who stick to TV, on the other hand, increasingly access TV content not through direct reception but through DVR devices like TiVo.

TV advertisers should start to take note, or they're screwed in the long run.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LegalTech Trade Show in the US

Touted as "the largest and most important legal technology event of the year," Legaltech will be held on February 5 - 7, 2008 at The Hilton New York Hotel in New York, NY. It is hosted annually by ALM, an integrated media company, focused on the legal and business communities.

From the website (

"With conferences and trade shows in both New York and Los Angeles, LegalTech is the #1 Resource for law firms and legal departments to get hands-on practical information for improving their law practice management.

LegalTech provides an in-depth look at what the technological world has in store for you and your practice AND offers an expansive exhibit floor with the most extensive gathering of innovative products designed to meet your current and future technology needs."

Tips for presenting Electronic Data Discovery Evidence

I found a very informative online article providing tips for presenting electronic data discovery evidence at While it is geared towards evidence-presentation before a jury, it will in the same vein be useful in enlightening a judge, especially here in the Philippines where the majority of judges aren't tech-oriented.


"Have you tried presenting electronic evidence to a jury through the testimony of a computer forensic expert? If you have, it's likely you relied on the talking head to present opinions to the jury. Attorney Bruce Olson warns that without demonstrative evidence you run the risk of putting the jury to sleep."


"If you simply ask your expert to verbally describe how the electronic information was secured, how it was analyzed and what information was important to justify your position in the case, you are taking a big chance.

Without the use of appropriate demonstrative evidence, you run the risk of confusing a jury with unintelligible technical jargon. You may expose your expert to impeachment on the basis of qualifications or methodology simply because the jury didn't understand what the expert did or why his opinion should be deemed reliable. Finally, without demonstrative evidence, you run the risk of boring the jury so they sleep right through your expert's key testimony.
Every attorney who deals with electronic evidence at trial must use some form of demonstrative evidence if he or she wants the jury to understand the expert's testimony. Please note -- this doesn't mean simply dropping a screen capture or two of a vendor's spreadsheet into a Microsoft Corp. PowerPoint slide.

It means using a compelling mixture of different types of demonstrative evidence to educate the jury -- and in all likelihood the judge -- about a number of factors. In order to believe the expert's ultimate conclusions, the jury must understand how the computer hardware that holds the electronically stored information works; what software was used to create the information; what metadata associated with key evidence was created or altered; just what metadata is; and how the metadata might be relevant to your theory of the case."

Largest jobs site hacked

Scary! I logged in and uploaded my resume in this site!


London, Aug 22: Hackers have attacked the world`s largest online recruiter and stolen the personal details of thousands of jobseekers thereby exposing them to the risk of blackmail, a security firm has said.

Posing as would-be employers who routinely scour the site for prospective workers, the hackers used a computer programme to access `` and steal users` log-in details, said Symantec, the online security firm which discovered the breach.

In a warning published on its website, Symantec said the logins were used to "harvest user names, e-mail addresses, home addresses and phone numbers, which were uploaded to a remote web server".

"This remote server held over 1.6 million entries with personal information belonging to several hundred thousands of candidates, mainly based in the US, who had posted their resumes to the Monster.Com website," said Symantec.

Having stolen the information, the hackers have reportedly e-mailed the victims claiming to have infected their computers with a virus and threatening to delete files unless demands for payment were met.

Monster.Com`s Vice President for fraud prevention Patrick W Manzo told `The Times`: "we`re still investigating -- we don`t yet know how this information was obtained, other than that it was downloaded using the login details of legitimate customers of ours."

"It seems likely it was done over a period of time, because we would have noticed such a vast quantity of details being taken all in one go," he was quoted as saying.

However, a statement from the company said that it would "take all necessary steps to mitigate the issue, including terminating any account used for illegitimate purposes".

Bureau Report

I am an Internetaholic

Someday someone might be saying this in his own Internet addict support group. According to an article I've come across with in an article describing something called "Internet addiction disorder" has been spreading around the Web. However, Vaughan Bell, a psychiatrist at King's College London, seriously argues against the proposition. Bell says that the Internet itself is not an addiction because addictions are formed through substances or activities. Since the internet is neither a substance nor an activity it cannot form an addiction. Nevertheless, the debate is far from being over as people can argue that although the Internet is neither a substance nor an activity, Internet-surfing is, and as an activity, it can lead to the formation of an addiction
If they ever settle the question of whether the Internet can be addictive or not in the affirmative, I can think of another psychosis that might be uniquely applicable to Filipinos. After confessing that "I am an Internetaholic", the next thing that'll be coming out of your mouth might be "I am a pirated-dvd-addict".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Beeb's iPlayer and Network Neutrality

So the BBC recently launched the iPlayer, which enables UK residents to watch (for free, and legally) full length video of shows they missed on the television.

However, major Internet service providers like Tiscali UK and Carphone Warehouse are reportedly threatening to restrict their users' downloading practices unless BBC pays for part of the bandwidth necessary for shuttling these large files.

This is an example of an issue involving network neutrality. At one level, it is a question of whether or not broadband operators ought to be able to charge content and application makers (not the broadband subscribers) extra fees to deliver their content, particularly when it has the potential to consume loads of bandwidth. (My answer would have to be no - simply because these telcos have already charged the downstream subscribers for the broadband. We've already payed for that bandwidth! Why should we be denied content, downloaded through bandwidth we pay for, simply because the content providers wouldn't want to be doublecharged?)

At a more fundamental level, it is a question of whether or not these broadband operators should even have the right to discriminate (hence the call for "neutrality") between the types of content passing through their networks. My answer again is no -Because this would mean corporations would have the last say on the content and shape of discourse online.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Elections and YouTube

People have said that the television changed the way elections were conducted. The crucial point is the presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. People have surmised that if it were not for the televised debate between the two presidential hopefuls, then JFK wouldn't have won.
Now it's the internet that's changing the landscape of elections. Just recently there was the YouTube round of presidential debates in the United States. Through YouTube, booboos of a number of candidates have been broadcast, and much more often than not, they spelled the end of the political lives of the candidates who committed the booboos.
In the Philippines, I haven't come across any politician who used YouTube as a vehicle for his or her campaign. There is a limit on how much hopefuls can spend on television advertising, and also on how many ads they can run. With YouTube, which is free, will the limit apply? The COMELEC may need to come up with new regulations with respect to campaigning via the internet. However, does the COMELEC have the capability to do so? This adds more work to them, and should they be allowed to regulate such?
Will we have our own version of the YouTube debates?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Great Firewall of China

The Internet, according to the Chinese government, is an evil that ought to be regulated.

Internet censorship in China is done through a multitude of administrative regulations and rules:

Under Chinese law, local Internet gaming companies must install a program that requires users to enter their ID card numbers . After 3 hours, players under 18 are ordered to stop and "do suitable physical exercise" ; failure to comply will result in the deduction of half of the total amount of point earned.
In the city of Xiamen, anonymous online postings were banned after text messages and online communications were used to rally protests against a proposed chemical plant in the city. Internet users are now required to provide proof of identify when posting messages on the more than 100,000 Web sites registered in Xiamen.

The Chinese version of MySpace disallows posting messages regarding politics, religion and the Dalai Lama.

I find these regulations as overly restrictive and downright repressive. However, I am happy to report that there are ways to fight state sanctioned Internet censorship. For instance, Psiphon,a web-based utility, lets individuals in a country that censors the internet sign on to a server that gives them secure access to web pages anywhere, bypassing government restrictions.

Can the Philippine government implement similar rules and establish a Great Philippine Firewall? I sincerely doubt it. The government neither has the resources nor the technical know how needed to enact such laws. Besides, I don't think you an expect much from a government who just "lost" a multimillion (or is it billion) peso contract.

Friday, August 10, 2007

U.S. Schoolboards: The Net is Alright

The U.S.' National School Boards Association (a nonprofit that represents 95,000 US school-board members) did a comprehensive study of students' experiences with the Internet, especially with social networking sites.

Their finding: the Internet is okay for education, and the perceived threats of online stalking, sexual predators, etc. is inflated. Schools should stop fearing the Internet and embrace it as a means of intruction.

In light of these findings, they're recommending that school districts may want to "explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes" — and reconsider some of their fears. It won't be the first time educators have feared a new technology, the study warns. "Many schools initially banned or restricted Internet use, only to ease up when the educational value of the Internet became clear. The same is likely to be the case with social networking.

"Safety policies remain important, as does teaching students about online safety and responsible online expression — but student may learn these lesson better while they're actually using social networking tools."

Social networking may be advantageous to students — and there could already be a double standard at work? 37% of districts say at least 90% of their staff are participating in online communities of their own — related to education — and 59% of districts said that at least half were participating. "These findings indicate that educators find value in social networking," the study notes, "and suggest that many already are comfortable and knowledgeable enough to use social networking for educational purposes with their students."

Social networks for dogs, bikes & sneakers

We've all heard of social networks like Friendster, Multiply, MySpace and Facebook. Then there's also LiveJournal, a blogging site which is also a social network. And just recently, I encountered MyLot, a social networking site, which pays its members for blogging, posting comments and recruiting new members of the MyLot community. Also simulating the social networking concept are ebay and youtube (wherein you also have profiles). Actually, I have accounts in all of the said social networks (a fact I'm not sure I'm shy or proud of). And just when I thought I've already had enough social networks, I come across,,,, and is an online community featuring pet photos posted by owners along with pooch videos, diaries and travel tips. Cat people can also go to; car lovers can put their ride on, and there's for those who are crazy about ... well, sneakers. Obsessed with your bike or motorcycle? Give them a profile on or (For more details, click here)

Whew! I wonder what niche social network they could think of creating next! In the future, it probably won't be farfetched to have social networks such as,,,, (where they'll trade info on gigs, mp3s of minus ones and performance tips),, lawyers (actually we're thinking of one), medsters (for those in the medical profession), bookworms (for booklovers), and what-have-you.

Come to think of it, this is actually good for advertisers, marketers and manufacturers. This is clearly an opportunity for more targeted marketing (what they used to teach us in BA as niche marketing). Because online ads would now be more targeted, marketing research companies could now find a greater link between increase in market share in a particular niche and a particular investment for online advertising.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Polygraph Tests for e-mails

Interesting article from Popular Science.

Researchers at several are developing software to identify lies in cyberspace. The software can detect lies in online communications such as instant messages, e-mails, and chatrooms. According to Jeff Hancock, an assistant professor for communication and a member of the faculty of computing and information science at Cornell University, who conduct studies for digital deception, there is a growing body of evidence that the language of dishonest messages is different from that of honest ones. One study conducted by Hancock found that deceptive e-mail messages contained 28% more words on average and used a higher percentage of words associated with negative emotions than did truthful messages. Liars also tend to use fewer first person references (“I”) and more third person references (“he” and “they”). According to the study, this may be the liars subconscious way of distancing himself from his lie.

Hancock is trying to identify patterns of deceit. To do this, Hancock has developed an instant-messaging system at Cornell that asks users to rate the deceptiveness of each message they send. According to the article, the system has already collected 10,000 messages, of which about 6% qualify as patently deceptive. The results will later be incorporated into a software that analyzes incoming messages. If a person receives a message that fits a pattern of deceptiveness, he will get an onscreen warning that the message may warrant special attention.

This is technology with a little bit of psychology.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ah-nold's Game Law: Terminated!

A federal court judge ruled that California's Video Game Law (imposing a video game rating system and fining retailers for selling violent games) is unconstitutional  (full text of ruling, PDF). 

The crux of Judge Whyte's ruling:

The evidence does not establish that video games, because of their interactive nature or otherwise, are any more harmful than violent television, movies, internet sites or other speech-related exposures.

Although some reputable professional individuals and organizations have expressed particular concern about the interactive nature of video games, there is no generally-accepted study that supports that concern. There has also been no detailed study to differentiate between the effects of violent videos on minors of different ages.

The court, although sympathetic to what the legislature sought to do by the Act, finds that the evidence does not establish the required nexus between the legislative concerns about the well-being of minors and the restrictions on speech required by the Act.

Of course, moral panics over new forms of entertainment are nothing new. Whenever new forms come out, elders have the tendency to think that they're far more corrosive than previous expressions.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Long Term Problem of Digital Storage

Lorybeth's post reminded me of an obsession i once had about storage. This started out as a comment, but I think it deserves a post.

I tend to be a pack rat, so the same extends to my computer life. Everything preserved and backed up. My real problem isn't capacity - hardware can be counted on to store more or more each year. The real problem, I found out - is reliability and lifespan.

Floppies are hopeless. Hard drives can last 3 to 5 years of normal use - they have moving parts, so wear and tear really gets to them. Cd's and Dvd's, in theory, can last 75 years. It turns out though that burned discs only last 2 to 5 years.

Another problem is decoding. Even assuming that your storage medium survives 10 or 20 years, would there still be cd or dvd drives in the future? It's not a trivial question. There are almost no serviceable vintage tape readers left in the planet. And the floppy is starting to disappear after holding on for 20 years.

And even assuming the hardware would be available - where would you get software drivers and applications to read your vintage file formats? The software company that made your app (assuming it would still be around that time) can't always be counted on to provide backward-compatibility.

I have been into computers for decades now. Much of my professional and academic life is in "soft copy". Every year I have to move my stuff into bigger disks, and more dvd's. Imagine the extent of the problem for companies and government agencies.

So what now? The solution for me is a bit philosophical –nature has solved the information storage problem through DNA. Rather than being stored in perpetuity, the information in DNA is preserved through countless generations by free sharing and copying (sexual or asexual reproduction) of an open and common format (same acid bases in all DNA in all species). This gives the information in dna a sort of “immortality”. Even if individual “discs” (bodies or species) die, DNA as a whole lives on.

The Internet and open source give us a possible space for DNA-like sharing, remixing, and replication. Things that aren’t always allowed by the law. Perhaps it’s time for the law to take a longer, wider view.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bloggers of the World, Unite!

Check this out: I find this very interesting because as the article mentions, bloggers want blogging to become more professional. In this sense, this is like self-regulation, which I talked about in a past post of mine. In the spirit of free speech however, which I find is at the very heart of blogging, moves such as this could set back the movement of free speech.
It is also interesting to think of how the blog unions could work out collective bargaining agreements, and with whom they will conclude this agreement.
However, one thing that this article showed me is that if bloggers are already thiking of ways to protect themselves, especially with health care benefits, why is it that in the business process outsourcing sector of our economy, inroads have yet to be made in unionizing them? If ever there is, why is is so slow? I would like to think that unions should have been there when the first whiff of the BPO industry went around union circles.

Encyclopedia of Information Technology Law

I thought that Legal IT as a viable field only started at around 1995 to 1997, but it turns out there was already a Legal IT Encyclopedia for the UK even before that time. It was first published in 1990 by Sweet & Maxwell, back in the MS-DOS days!

From the product page:

"This Encyclopedia is an essential tool for the modern lawyer and contains detailed analysis on topics such as the admissibility of computer evidence, compliance with the rules on data protection, capital allowances for investment in software and the problems of transferring software licences on the sale of a business.* The work boasts a team of experts drawn from the leading city firms and prominent academics* Updated three times per year allowing access to the very latest developments* Includes UK and EC legislation in comprehensive appendices"

It can be purchased at the link below, but its quite expensive (GBP 648 = around PhP64,800), at least for me, I think.

Friday, August 3, 2007

1 TB of wireless storage, anyone?

I was in 6th grade when our family purchased our first computer. I remember then, the maximum portable storage consisted of 1.4mb (remember the huge floppy drives?). Our 356 processor then had around 200mb of hard disk storage. Later on, since we wanted more space for our files, we had another drive added, which was to function as our slave drive. I remember then that we also wanted to purchase a zip drive (but thank God we didn't)

More than a decade later, our family bought more computers (our 356 is still alive, by the way), which all had storage of at 20 to 120gb. Since my ibook only has 7gb disk space left, I purchased an external hard drive which had 200gb (at that time, it was already the external drive with the most number of gigabytes). I also have a 2gb usb thumb drive. Surfing the net, I find usb thumb drives with 64gb worth of storage space, while in the stores, I find external hard drives with 500gb worth of storage. Just when I thought that these storage devices are already the most advanced in terms of storage capacity, here comes a product from Iomega.

Tagged as the Iomega StorCenter Wireless Network Storage, it contains 1TB (1 terrabyte = 1000gbs) of storage space. It also boasts of the convenience of wireless access that is possible for multiple users - for windows and mac users alike. it's best for extremely data-intensive projects, and for multitudinous media file downloads. It likewise allows reliable recovery in case of a failure. This wireless storage could even take the place of servers for small offices.

This is wonderful news for me, of course! However, considering that the device is wireless and is only protected by certain passwords, it may not be hacker proof. Data integrity may hence be at stake.

For a review about the product, check this out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


For those worried with energy consumption and all its downsides:

When your screen is white, may it be an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when it is black it consumes only 59 watts.

Mark Ontkush wrote an article about the energy saving attributes that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking into account the huge number of page views. And according to his calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved.

In a response to this article Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with lower energy consumption, check it out.

Where Less is More

For the longest time, the Philippines has been trying to copy India's NASSCOM, a cooperative association of their various IT and BPO companies where they collectively work to uplift India's IT industry. It is, the main source for information on India's IT industry and helps promote India's brand in the global ICT market.

Industry agrees that we need one such definitive site for our ICT sector. It would not only make it easier for foreign investors and customers to get more information about Philippine opportunities and services, "coopetition" would also make everyone seem larger than they are, and therefore eligible to compete for bigger, more lucrative opportunities.

Unfortunately, we just can't seem to get our acts together. Rather than one, we have numerous associations such as BPAP, ITAP, PSIA, to name a few, and now, are starting even regional ones.

More isn't necessarily better.