Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not facility but access

As an online shopper (for clothes and accessories mostly) my primary consideration in engaging these e-stores is not the realiability or security of the transaction but the sourcing of unique and quirky goods. I suppose that security isn't much of a consideration since i prefer to do meet-ups. The kuripot in me refuses to accept the idea that i will pay for shipping within the Philippines. Going for a meet-up ensures that i see the goods before i pay for it. But then again, my brother (the pro ebay-er) says that to meet-up defeats the purpose of the online transaction since we still have to ultimately "transact" face to face.

I don't think so. For me, the very purpose of engaging in online trade is not the facility of buying (I LOVE SHOPPING. I LOVE VISITING THE STORES! Nothing beats the real thing and being able to experience the merchandise!!!) but in the ACCESS. It is the access to more sources of merchandise, access to specific items, access to unique items. Most of the online traders/sellers purchase their items abroad or online as well. They are the ones who probably bear the brunt of security concerns... but at the same time, they are also the ones who make a profit off buyers like me. High risk, high return I suppose.

For me, the online shops serve the purpose I want it to. I won't buy an LV online - where's the fun in that? But the last pair of backlined fishnet stockings I picked up, now THAT was a damn good find online. :)

Play Video Games on Youtube!

Youtube has always been one of the most popular sources of entertainment on the web. People use it for a variety of reasons, such as to watch or create music videos, create vlogs (videoblogs), short films, and even video tutorials. I myself use it to get the latest guitar techniques or learn the newest fingerstyle arrangements and occasionally laugh at the latest lulz at collegehumor. On January 15, 2009 however, user PatrickBoivin took the Youtube experience one step further. He created a channel that allowed you to play videogames! A visit to his Youtube channel allows you play streetfighter (can anyone say Hadouken!?). While the game only allows you to play as one of three characters (either Dhalsim, E. Honda or Guile), the concept of such a game in a video channel was very creative. The game plays sort of like a "choose your own adventure" book except that it's in video format. If your interested in testing your skills just go to the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPQ1XrllZmA. If you've always wanted to kick E. Honda in the nuts here's your chance!

The Internet "Research"

Do you want to know the meaning of a word? A glimpse of the history of something?

Just "google" it!

The search engine has become an indispensable part of the research prowess of the researchers today. It is now used instead of the old card catalog. From the library to the internet cafe, the computer can be used to search for those materials needed for your paper, or just some trivia that you want to know.

It is now just a few clicks away to an article published in another country. We have more access to more resources. Journals and books are published online, making them more available and easier to use with the "find" function.

Computers indeed make life easier.

any other manner the court may deem sufficient

In Australia, summons have been served through facebook.

In the Philippines, Rule 14 Section 15 of the Rules of Court allow for personal service, publication in a newspaper of general circulation, service by registered mail or "in any other manner the court may deem sufficient" for extraterritorial service of summons.

In this day and age when most everyone has access to the internet, is it possible to serve summons through email or facebook or multiply or friendster? This would be interesting to test in our courts someday. Will the Philippine courts eventually find this option sufficient for extraterrritorial service of summons?

It would be interesting to have e-summons. By then, no one can hide from the law.

Giulia Pineda
01-64304

tryst the series presents: rendezvous


I am an “invite snob”…


I usually don’t accept invites from people who I don’t know personally. I find it creepy to just randomly add people to my friend list if they are not really my friends. My site is like a mini journal, I keep all my pictures, posts, random thoughts in it, so I make sure that those people who have access to my site know me.


BUT…because we have a month before Tryst the Series Presents: RENDEZVOUS… and I need to get the word out, I have been adding people to my network like crazy.


The downside with organizing a big event is trying to get the invite out to as many people as possible since most of the organizers are tied down with law school…so to get around it, we decided to use all media…from print media to mass textbrigs, to the social networks on the internet...and soon we will be having our radio rounds.


I’m still not a big fan of adding random people… but considering that the goal of these sites are precisely to connect everybody.


And…if it means I get to invite more people to join us…then…I’m going to add as many people as I can.

Sacrifice and Compromise

To keep up with the fast-paced advances in technology, must we sacrifice the development of other fields or can a compromise be had?

I have given this question a lot of thought, but it seems that I cannot, by myself, come up with an answer. Maybe because when it comes to issues like these, I always would like to reach a compromise, but because of the vastness of the technological field and the monetary considerations that must be kept up with, even I find myself questioning the possibility of a compromise.

At the end of the day, however, I would still want to believe that should technological investments be paired with positive insights and persistent learning, compromise can happen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Still on HYLA* promotion mode

There is news that a group of Stanford-based scientists are developing an email system that figures out a particular recipient of email and finds them whether or not senders know the addresses.

According to the group, instead of sending merely a string of characters, you describe the person you want to receive the email. This semantic technology analyzes phrases and relationships between words, and then searches the internet to find the intended email recipients.

So, for example, if I want female law students of the Philippines to receive my advertisement regarding the HYLA, then I would indicate such description in my message. Then, ideally, only they could receive such email, saving other people from annoyance that I have brought their inboxes.

With respect to the concerns of "semantic spam", the defenders of the system say that there would be less need for spam because instead of sending the email to everyone, you send it to people who actually might be interested in what you sent.

Makes sense to me.

--
Maria Cristina Yambot

* Haydee Yorac Leadership Award. Deadline for submission of nomination is on Feb. 14, happy Valentines day.

View the Holy See

I had a classmate from grade school whose name is John Paul but I found out through Friendster (when it was still en vogue) that he now goes by the name of Pontiff. At the time, I thought that was the closest I could get to having the Pope on my friends list. That, however, no longer holds true. Apparently, you can't find God in Friendster and according to the Pope himself, neither can you find him in My Space but there's a chance you might find him in You Tube.

Eighty six year-old Pope Benedict The XVI recently launched the Vatican's first You Tube channel. According to the Vatican, this is a way of "involving people in the dialogue of truth." The move is aimed at bringing the message of the Catholic Church to a wider (and perhaps younger) audience. Now, the Faithful from all over the world can have access to the Pope's messages through this multi-lingual site. The launch was done in true Vatican fashion: with a warning- that while social networking has its advantages, its obsessive use may lead to division and isolation. Only time will tell if the Pope can get as much hits as SNL's Special Christmas Box, Ken Lee, or Paris Hilton Meets Lady Gaga but having his own channel is definitely a start. According to the head of Vatican's Social Communications Office, the Holy See is contemplating a similar presence on Facebook. It's not impossible to have the Pope as your virtual pal. Blasphemers like my grade school friend beware: with the Pope as his agent, God will indeed be everywhere.

Apprendre le fran├žais avec l'aide de l'internet

(Learning French with the help of the Internet)

To vary our otherwise monotonous life, my friends and I decided to learn a new language – French. So early one Saturday morning, we drove to Makati and along with twenty five others, enrolled in a level one class. We’re basically learning what the kids (aged 7-11 years old) in the next room were learning. Our instructor is a Filipino who has been teaching French for 11 years in the institute and previous that, in UP Diliman. He began by saying that he teaches French, well, in French.

As most of my classmates are multi-lingual, I felt a little behind in the learning curve and decided to look up other materials to keep up. As always, the internet came to my rescue. I goggled “learning French” and was pointed to several website, including Wikibooks, with useful materials. Google and yahoo (Translate and Babel Fish, respectively) in fact, provide for phrases and website translations. The torrent sites were even more helpful with available audio copies of the Living Language and the Rosetta Stone series. Like the compulsive pack rat that I am, I booked marked every relevant page and downloading every e-book and audio book I could find. By my estimate, I now have enough materials to last me for 6 months, more than the two months I enrolled for in the Institute. Hmm…Maybe I should have thought of this before enrolling.

burn book online

Four unidentified students from QC Science High School were suspended for posting blog entries criticizing the school's policies and launching scathing personal attacks against the principal. Most of us were probably horrified upon hearing about this, and initial reactions would have most likely been sympathy for the free-thinking kids as opposed to the school administrator who allegedly replaced the well-loved adviser of the school paper "to give chance to others." And as was illustrated in the recent fiasco involving those golfers in Antipolo, Filipino bloggers can have a considerable impact on public perception about a particular issue. Perhaps it is even fair to say that a party to a conflict who remains ignorant about this medium may well be on the losing end. A lot of people felt sorry for that Australian blogger who said he got filched by his Filipino socialite ex. Hundreds of bloggers rallied behind that girl Bambee and her golfing family. And the kids' defense? They are saying that those entries were meant to be read by their closest contacts, since their accounts were set to "private" mode. Undeniably defamatory, but seemingly lacking the element of publicity. Nonetheless, as was already said in class, the Internet was designed for sharing. This is a notion that has already manifested itself in numerous cases. Just ask Obama, or Miley Cyrus.

What? I didn’t buy this! (PART I)

Last year, my mom realized that there were unauthorized monthly charges to her credit card from “American Leisure” and “EZ Saver”, at around $30/month. Unfortunately, my dad thought that my mom had bought something on installment or subscribed to a magazine when we were in the States, so he continued paying for the charges for almost a year. Turns out it’s a big credit card scam run by Encore Marketing International, an apparently legit company that markets itself as “the most experienced provider of revenue enhancement solutions to retail, catalog and internet merchants.” So experienced in fact, that they’re ripping people off for their own “revenue enhancement” :p

I’m not really sure but I think the way they work is that they entice companies (legit or otherwise) to avail of their services, then they use the credit card info of these companies’ customers to siphon their funds away little by little. Since the charges are relatively small and the customer presumes they’re from the company they’re transacting with, they let the charging go on until they realize that it doesn’t stop and in most cases, they don’t receive the product they purchased. Sneaky sneaky.

To be continued next week.

Software Pains

I have always wondered why the software market seems generally undisturbed and resistant to the proliferation of pirated copies of various software products. In other words, why is software so expensive? I can relate this query to the pricing trend that CDs and DVDs have undergone in recent years. Before, visiting a video store is a gut-wrenching experience for me because I simply cannot afford to buy a favorite Kubrick film for more than a P1000.00. I find solace in the amazing black-market of pirated DVDs in Quiapo which is basically a treasure trove (pirate's chest, to be exact) of classic and cult films which would never have seen the light of day in Video City. One day,however, while looking for films to rent in a nearby VideoCity branch, I saw an original DVD copy of The Birds by Hitchcock and I almost bawled when I saw the price - a measly P350.00. I would not hesistate to buy it, of course, not only because it's a classic but because it's so dirt cheap. Now back to the issue of software pricing. I know, for example, that the man-woman-hours spent on software design may well justify the exorbitant prices that Microsoft keeps forcing down our throats but I do think that something's or someone's got to give. While the rest of the hardware industry (and telecoms) is trying to gut their brains out in finding ways to make technology cheaper so as to widen their market base, huge software companies cannot seem to find a way(other than cracking down on computer shops in SC) to make their products affordable to most of us. I do not want to get into any discussion on intellectual property rights and why we should respect it. Because as a consumer, I personally cannot see why I should incentivize the efforts of Microsoft to create Vista when I am almost certain that the version could be passe in a year! And while my DVDs certainly has an aesthetic value which would far outlast the value of the money that I parted with, I just do not see how Microsoft Word 1994 can ever retain its market worth in the cut-throat world of software development and competition. To reminisce the famous SNL-Steve-Jobs skit, why should you buy a software the features of which becomes obsolete at the exact same moment you get hold of it? There's just no point.

Just like in the movies!

Terrafugia, a firm from Woburn, Mass., recently released their "flying car" into the market with a whopping $194,000 price tag attached to it. The Transition is said to be bridging the gap between automobiles and aircrafts and so the company, founded by MIT students, prefers to call it as a "roadable aircraft." This is not the first attempt of the humankind to make a flying car. As early as 1949, the first flying car was launched by Aerocar, a Longview, Wash. but it never went for commercial production. This time, the Transition has been in production and productions for it have been funded already, in time for its delivery in 2010. The company admitted that aside from advances in materials and propulsion technologies, the easing of government regulation on private aircraft and pilot licensing paved the way for this advancement.

How long do you think will it take for this technology to reach our shores? The hybrid-power cars haven't been commercialized very well yet so I reckon we've still got a long way to go. And I realize the "teleporting car" from the movie Back to the Future might not be that impossible anymore, though I'm quite sure they will be needing more than Physics and other scientific knowledge.

scary

What if the Google organization suddenly turned rouge? What if they have really planned world domination through bits and bytes right from the start? What if our most trusted web sites start violating their privacy policies? What if Facebook was really a front to filter out candidates for a gene filtering program by a racist megalomaniac? With less than 24 hours before my SLR deadline, my energy artificially pumped up by espressos and the Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack, I asked these questions as I rewrite the section on establishing court-annexed ODR and the requisite trust it needs to be a successful endeavor. I realized that every time we give information about ourselves, notwithstanding any practical or technological safeguard, we can never be sure. Surely, dealing with others, offline or online, requries a certain degree of trust that the other party would do what he/she promised. But sometimes we really have no other choice. It's a tit-for-tat world.

Criminal

According to Prof. Quimbo, “the landline is more secure than the cellphone”.

I beg to disagree.

Several months ago, I got home from bringing my youngest son to the pediatrician and after picking up my older kids from school and discovered that the door to our bedroom had been forced open, the door to my closet ajar and all my jewelry and cash gone.

One of the maids took off and was later found in the vicinity of a mall.

Upon investigation by the village security and after several trips to the police sub-station and Camp Karingal until almost midnight, the police report simply states that we were victims of a dugo-dugo gang operation.

To rub salt into the wound, I had to pay PLDT the P3k worth of phone calls that the maids made to a pre-paid number.

Truly, reality is stranger than fiction.

No telenovela will compare to those surreal moments.

To this day, we are not certain exactly what happened and a criminal case is still in the offing.

But one thing is for sure, the cellphone and the landline share equal billing when it comes to being a tool for crime.

The Plain View Doctrine and Child Pornography

I'm a "computer engineer" from Greenhills and I do house calls to fix computers. That’s precisely what I try to do but since:

1. it takes me more than the 2 hours I promised I can have your computer up and running, and
2. you have to go to work, and
3. no one else available to keep watch over me (of course you do not trust me alone in your house),

you grudgingly allow me to bring your computer back to my shop in Greenhills. Before I leave though, you make a curious comment "May mga makikita ka jan na weird, kse weird ang taste ng kapatid ko."

As I work on your computer, I see a file which is (curiously) titled "XXX." I remember your comment and open the directory. In it I find pages of file names describing children performing sexual acts. I review a number of the files and determine that children depicted in the images were between the ages of 10 and 15. I call the police on December 23, 2008 and they go to my house on December 28, 2008. I show these filenames to them and turn over your computer.

Thereafter a search warrant for your computer is obtained by the police and you are charged with violating the Anti-Child Pornography Law*

Your s(l)ick lawyer now wants to suppress the computer files for being a fruit of an illegal search. He argues the fact that your computer filenames were viewed amounts to an unreasonable search without warrant.

And I cry because you might just be right.

*In reality this is still pending in Congress.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Linking and Liability for Creators [Part VII]

Continuing on Derivatives works… When the content of another page is incorporated into one's own page by means of an unauthorized IMG link, there is no direct copyright infringement by the creator of the link. This is because the link's creator never copies the pirated content; she merely provides a visiting browser with instructions to retrieve the image, which is then incorporated into the overall page on the user's machine. Thus the only person who copies the protected image is the final user. This does not mean that the creator of the link escapes liability, however. Copyright law provides that one who knowingly makes an infringement possible can herself be held liable under a theory of contributory infringement.
It is typically considered a breach of net etiquette to link to anyone else image through an IMG link without permission. Even more important, unauthorized IMG linking may well be a violation of the right to make a derivative work under copyright law. Consequently, one should always obtain permission (preferably in writing) from the copyright owner of the image prior to creating the link. (Brad Bolin of www.bitlaw.com)

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII] [Part IX] [Part X]

Youtube and Copyright

Youtube has recently begun tightening their copyright rules. The immediate effects have been the removal of the audio track of some videos and the taking down of movies, official music videos and even commercials (which actually serve their ultimate purpose by being reposted over and over again). The weirdest copyright-protection-measure as of yet is the removal of song covers done by the multitude of singers (or would-be-singers) in the youtube community. A song is usually covered because the cover-er actually likes it and wants to give it his own flavor and style. I’m sure that there’s no intent to steal any intangible property right. These online musicians don’t earn from such covers anyway. It’s just like when you go to a bar and see a band cover a song, it’s just that in this case, the platform is different and the audience base is way bigger. Moreover, appropriate credits are (more often than not) given to the original artist and the songwriters so this may even be considered as free promotions. Now, I wonder if they’re really intending to protect copyright or if they’re just very insecure and can’t bear to see comments such as “your version is waaaaay better than the original!!.”

Yipee-ki-yay, Japa-hacker

So I heard the U.S. sent us some goods with which to fight cyber-crime. I thought that was very nice of them, until I learned what they sent Japan for their cybercrime-fighting needs: Bruce Willis. That’s right, John McClane from Die Hard. He’s the Honorary Chief of Japan’s Cyber-Terrorism Task Force. And we got a flash-drive. I suppose Japan asked for him after watching Die Hard 4.0 (the weakest, canonically, but still mind-blowing). If this is so, the Japanese must take their action heroes very seriously. I imagine that soon, they’ll recruit Rambo to be Minister of Being-Your-Worst-Nightmare. Chuck Norris will be Secretary of Kicking-People-In-The-Face/Texas-Rangering. Steven Seagal will be Commissioner of Never-Getting-Hit-By-A-Bad-Guy (and also, Being-Awesome). Van Damme can be Commanding Officer of Inappropriate Splits. Patrick Swayze can be Consul of Dirty Dancing, and Hasselhoff can be Ambassador of Oceanic Safety. Seriously, though, it boggles the mind-grapes to think that we’re so backwards we had to be given a thumb-drive, while our Southeast-Asian neighbors are handing out honoraries to people on the strength of fiction, no doubt safe in the knowledge that the real Cyber-Police are taking care of business. Pick it up, Philippines.

Cybersquatting (part 2)

In my last installment I said that cybersquatting usually targets trademarks. However, I recently discovered that even names of people are used as domain names in an attempt to get those concerned to buy back the use of their personal names.

For example, my brother Andrew has a comic called “Kare Kare Komiks” found in “The Chemistry Set” (http://www.chemsetcomics.com). Every week you’ll find new posts for your reading pleasure. Interestingly enough, he discovered that after a few installments a site was created called Kare Kare Komiks with absolutely no relation with his comic. In addition, he discovered that a site called “AndrewDrilon” had also been created.

I suppose that this point in time, he doesn’t see the need to hunt down these cybersquatters and buy back his name or comic’s name. Which leads me to wonder how much these cybersquatters think they can gain by “impersonating” my brother on the internet. At the same time, I wonder whether there will be a price difference between now and the future in the event that my brother chooses to “buy back” his name and whether by that time he’ll have to resort to legal action in order to protect his rights.

De-tech-ifying


I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving my phones in the car when I’m not at home. Whether I’m at school or reading at a coffee place it seems more logical to leave it in the car so that it would not disturb me. I’m not expecting any text messages or phone calls during the time I’ll be in school or at the coffee shop anyway. It usually just distracts me to text mundane things like seeing this old dude exhibiting his butt cleavage. It’s just a waste of load really. My only concern is that if someone has an emergency and they were trying to reach me because they need my help. I guess it boils down to discipline or decorum. We just need to learn how to not get disturbed by it.

What’s in a Name?

I knew of this new device where you can make unlimited calls to the US at a relatively low cost. I know it’s a USB plug-in device with a phone line connector at the other end, but I just can’t remember the name. It bugged me all night that I could not remember the name and that I could not strt on typing my blog for the week. So, I typed possible names (i.e. “magic drive”, “mega drive”) on google to the best of my memory of the name when first introduced to me during our long three-hour class in taxation to search for this device on the internet. However, I keep getting links to this downloadable freeware about a virtual CD/DVD ROM creation and management software.

Refusing to call my friend who informed me of this device (this blog being typed at 4:00 in the morning), and knowing that the device was similar to Voice Over Internet Protocol, I finally typed “voip usb” in the google search box. At last, the name I have been looking for. Magic Jack.

I have got to get me one of these devices to call some of my relatives in the US. Luckily, the very first link in the google search page was a link to buy such device at eBay.ph. But because I only have P70.00 left from my weekly allowance, and it’s only Thursday, and I have to eat sometime, I could not at the moment afford the device of P3000.00, f***!

---
Rivera, Jan Michael A.
02-16779

How ICT Is Ruining My Life

When I decided to study writing in college, my parents initially tried to (subtly) dissuade me by asking how I felt about other options, like accountancy or (gasp) medicine. I somehow understood: there is no money in writing, unless you’re J.K. Rowling.

I finished the writing course, and still am broke. I realized belatedly that my parents had a point. But how is my sob story related to ICT? It isn’t, but J.K. Rowling is.

She’s made gazillions from Harry Potter. And probably more, if e-books weren’t invented. Now, you can just download books off the net, without shelling out any amount, save maybe for the P20 for each hour of internet at the netcafe.

Even some serious publications (such as law books) are on the internet now. Googlebooks and Amazon allow browsing through the pages of a certain book, enticing people to buy it (or just look for the pages they need, without buying).

So royalties that should be going to writers are now spent on just paying the electric bill, or maybe replacing a slow computer, but the bottom line is information is free now, more or less.

Egad. Now my parents have more reason to nag me about making stupid career choices.

COMELEC blog

Filipino voters who wish to learn more about the registration process and the national candidates in the 2010 elections can check out the bagongbotante.ph blog. An upcoming feature of the blog will be the e-plaza Miranda where the COMELEC will upload data about the candidates, who in turn, may directly post articles and relevant information about themselves and their political platforms. Voters may also comment and ask questions, giving them the opportunity to reach these aspirants for elective positions wherever they may be.

Efforts to further popularize political processes and the allocation of funds for this purpose should be given our full support since making informed decisions on the part of the electorate is key to achieving meaningful change in our society. It's good that the COMELEC is tapping the power of information and communications technology to creatively address the goal of getting Filipinos to responsibly participate in the electoral process. Let's see if Filipino netizens will take advantage of this added presence of their government in the blogosphere.

THE BLACKBERRY PRESIDENT

The rise to fame of Obama and his emphatic win against the Republican opposition has been largely accredited to the immensely systematic, strategic and effective cyber campaign that drew tens of millions to take note and listen. Since the growth of the net has been enormous, with an estimated millions of new users being on-line each year, the use of such strategy yielded staggering results. Not only is it important for informing people, the use of cyber-technology also encourages people to participate in the discourse of events that happen not only in a confined geographical area but in the whole world as well. With that in mind, advocacies that rights based individuals (e.g. human rights groups, Anti-violence against women and children, PETA) in the Philippines should ensure that they take note of such strategy and use cyber-technology the way Obama used it; precise, direct and systematic.

It is important, especially in a developing country like the Philippines to increase awareness of the public not only in protecting but also applying their rights against intrusions made by other people or even by our government. Despite the issuance of writs of amparo and habeas data by the Supreme Court, the best way to ensure that people are protected is for them to know and care about their rights. For until people are truly informed and capable of discussing their rights, then rules and laws would be nothing but ink on paper.

What are the odds?

Gambling has always been frowned upon by law. It has been characterized as a social evil which drains the resources of an individual who gets addicted to it. And in the digital age, gambling has seen its greatest growth. Internet gambling has gradually been gaining infamy. PAGCOR has even set-up satellite shops which provide gamblers with access to the internet so that they may profit from this vice. But there is an upcoming craze that has not yet been realized: gambling thru text messaging.

A friend of mine (from one of the major telecoms) told me that he is handling one of their text-gambling promotions. I was a bit surprised that telecoms had even been allowed to peddle such a service.

In a country where mobile phones are readily accessible to minors, I pondered if there were any precautions to prevent children from availing of these gambling services. This problem, although not realized at the moment, is a question that I would want to address to the NTC, DTI and even Congress. All forms of gambling should be distanced from minors. Haphazard regulation is unacceptable. Limitations must be set. Otherwise, make sure your children will never own a cell phone.

DIAL AGAINST DRUGS

In the never-ending fight against drugs, the Government, through the Dangerous Drugs Board is finding new ways to control and eradicate the illegal drugs trade. The DDB recently launched a 24 hour drug information and action line center that can be accessed through cell calls, text message or chat online. The center is aimed at informing Filipinos about drug use and getting tips on alleged drug smuggling, peddling and cover-ups made by prosecutors and police. As of January 14, the center has facilitated a total of 394 queries, complaints and tips.

The use of Information and Communication Technology has been a common trend among public service shows and broadcasts and the use of the government of such means to fight for a clean environment for Filipinos is a step that would encourage people to use such technology. However, the legal implications of the new system against possible infringement of privacy rights is yet to be truly tested, considering that it is a newly launched system. Indeed, only time will tell if such move by the government would be a boon or burden.

Preying on the Predator

“Don’t tell me you’re sorry ‘cause you’re not… And baby when I know you’re only sorry you got caught…”

I can’t help but be reminded of these lines from Rihanna’s song while watching Dateline’s infamous series, “To Catch a Predator.” This is a reality show which features undercover investigations on online predators, adults who chat with individuals whom they believe to be minors and engage in sexual conversations with the latter. An "entrapment" operation is set where the adult is invited to meet with the supposed minor with the intention of engaging in sexual relations with the latter. To their utter mortification, upon reaching the house of the supposed minor, these men are confronted by the host of the show, Chris Hansen, who berates them about their illicit plans. Most of them can only manage to say, “I’m sorry…” And they find even greater reason to be sorry once the hidden cameras and microphones are pointed out to them. Upon leaving the house, these men are arrested and charged accordingly.

This is supposed to be a good thing for all of us who want to feel protected from the psychos out there. Through their efforts, many have been successfully prosecuted and incarcerated. But the show has also been met with a lot of criticism, particularly on the manner by which the offenders’ identities are exposed to the public, the show’s partnership with the police and a private organization called Perverted Justice, with others viewing the motives of the network as nothing more than ratings-driven. Many of the men who have been caught in flagrante delicto are respected members of the community including a 6th grade teacher, a rabbi, a military staff sergeant, a church music director, among others. Arguably, the most controversial would be an assistant district attorney who shot and killed himself when police went to his home to serve him with a search warrant. His case was different, as he refused to show up at the undercover operations and ceased communicating with the alleged minor online, the police, instead, sought him in his own home. His sister filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the show, which resulted in a settlement. While the vigilante in me couldn’t care less about the human rights of sex offenders, I can’t help but feel alarmed at what lengths the show could go. Constitutional rights are guaranteed not only to law-abiding citizens, but even to scumbags and perverts, as undeserving as they may be. We thank the fine men from the media and the police who try to protect society from these predators. But when it is the authorities themselves who become the predators, who, now, will protect us from them?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Technological Art

In his 1996 best-selling book entitled " Being Digital", Nicholas Negroponte, in part, talked about the prevailing view during his time concerning the perceived polarity between technology and humanities or between science and art. Negroponte cited a few examples of this such as the invention of the television. He said that television was primarily invented for purely technological imperatives. Its inventors never really foresaw how their simple invention would be used in a myriad of ways. On the other hand, some artists look at science and technology as infested with coterie of geeks. Negroponte boldly predicted that the development of multimedia technology will bridge the gap between the two discipline.

On this score, Negroponte got it right. Nowadays, artists have learned to harness the utility of today's technological advances particularly the Internet to further their crafts. In the same vein, many of today's technologists and scientists produce innovations with the view to it being used in the field of art.

In short, science and technology is not antithetical to art but the two fields can actually be complementary to each other.

One example of the science-art symbiotic relationship can be seen in the popular social networking called "Multiply". This website from the time it was launched in 2004 has been a spawning pool for budding artists with the creation of customized web layouts and many more.



Raymond R. Roque
06-78143

Spear Phishing-----

Have you ever received a spam advertising a product like perfumes and electronic gadgets that let you link into a website? Or have you received an email from a bank asking you to send sensitive information required for your "account"?

Beware! It could just be another form of spear phishing.

What is spear phishing?
Unlike traditional spams, spear phishing is a personalized spam which does not get filtered in your e-mail. Those who send it, steal email addresses and send their spam messages using legitimate email addresses.

While there are 200 billion spam messages sent every day, 0.4 percent of it is personalized spam which amounts to 800 million a day attempts to try to steal personal information online.

Phishing, usually is easy to prevent. You just need to look at the sender, if you do not know the sender then don't click on the links. But, if you are a bit of a risk taker at least check the content. Some phishing messages are easy to spot when they have grammatical errors. Or copy the link to your address bar while not clicking into it, the true link would appear by then.

The best way to prevent phishing is to always keep in mind that you have common sense. Ask yourself, how did the person sending the email know about your email address? If you don't know the person then don't take the offer. If it is a banking institution, why would it ask for sensitive information online? This are just some of the simple questions that one needs to keep in mind whenever s/he encounters spear phishing. Again, vigilance is the key.

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Baguilat, Raymond Marvic C.
06-78921

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama's "Crackberry"

Yes, he can but no, he can’t.

After all the fuzz as to whether Obama gets to keep his Blackberry, it seems that the parties have somewhat reached a compromise. According to reports, Obama doesn’t get to keep his Blackberry but instead, would get a new Blackberry-type one. Meet Sectera Edge, developed specially for the National Security Agency. His new personal digital assistant can be used in a classified mode with just a touch of a button. When used in such mode, the screen turns red and it can communicate only with similar handsets.

While his new gadget boasts of fantastic features, I doubt it if he’ll be as happy if they just let him keep his Blackberry. While I do understand the security concerns, it’s just really sad that Obama’s call to keep his beloved Blackberry to maintain communication with people outside the White House bubble is unheeded. The president and his family should have personal lives and personal telephones. Give back his Blackberry and not some high-tech £2,465 screening machine.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IT Jobs anyone, please?

Earlier, I heard from a radio news report that the Philippines will lose at least 60,000 IT jobs this year. This is due to the impending closure of large IT companies operating here such as Intel, the world's largest semiconductor company, as well as it rivals Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Texas Instruments. This, according to the news report, was because of the economic crunch being experienced globally.

But as I listened to the report further, a man named Arthur Young as head of an organization dealing with these IT companies here in the Philippines stated that the closure of these companies' businesses can also be attributed to the fact that the Philippines cannot keep up with its Southeast Asian neighbors it terms of offering these companies competitive investment environment. The Philippine government has so far neglected to solve problems relating to infrastructure, power costs and power supply efficiency which are critical for these companies to maintain their viability and profitability.

As I reflect on Young's comment, I just imagine how backward the country is when it comes to IT competitiveness. It is preposterous to train our people in the field of ICT when problems as basic as power costs and supply efficiency are yet to be addressed. Much has to be done on the part of the government before they should ever think about putting up an expensive government IT project such as the junked ZTE fiasco.

Raymond R. Roque
06-78143

Parents Are Still The Best Protectors Of Kids Online----

A Harvard-led panel known as the Internet Safety Technical Task Force conducted a study that focused on the assessment of technologies meant to protect children from being in contact with a possible sexual predator lurking online. The study concluded that no single approach is effective in protecting children while saying that what is vital is the parents being around to protect their children. The study also showed that kids who go online know of the risk that they are entering, that indeed they may be able to be chatting with a sexual predator.

I personally feel though that the study presents a rather dangerous contextualization of the mindset of the kids who go online. Saying that children know the risk that they are taking does not in any way tone down the risk that face them. The fact that the law presumes minors to be unable to fully understand and comprehend a lot of situations surrounding them means that knowledge of the danger does not equate to proper appreciation of the intensity of the said danger.

The report is helpful, I'd agree. However a lot should be done in expanding the understanding of kids with regard to their online behavior. As well as the psychology of sexual predators who use the internet as their tool to lure victims. Furthermore, I do believe that no amount of technology would be able to protect a child when a sexual predator is determined to lure its victims but the presence of a parent would always be an almost sure way to prevent such possibility.

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Baguilat, Raymond Marvic "Ice" C.
06-78921

Linking and Liability for Creators [Part VI]

We will now focus on derivative works. Consider a hypothetical site designed to present popular comic strips to the public. To incorporate the strips into the site, several IMG links are utilized. These links instruct visiting browsers to retrieve the images comprising the strips from the official comic sites, such as the Doonesbury web-site maintained by Garry Trudeau. The images retrieved in this manner are grouped together on the new hypothetical site, creating a "Sunday comics" page. Although none of the comic images are stored with the hypothetical page, the resulting page arguably creates a new derivative work that is based on those preexisting images. Although this argument is not clear-cut, the creation of any derivative work of another's image without permission is copyright infringement. (Brad Bolin of www.bitlaw.com)

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII] [Part IX] [Part X]

Prior Restraint.

The National Telecommunications Commission is considering to require licenses for content creators when they recently released a draft of a memorandum circular. At first glance, it would seem that the document refer to telecommunication developers. However, in the definition of words, we can see that it MAY cover online content developers and that would probably include us, the normal internet users.

Content developers were therein defined as "persons or entities creating contents;" while content referring to "all types of contents delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers such as music, ring tones, logos, video clips, etc." Now for example, a student makes a short video presentation for her class and decides to upload it to the class e-group, for better accessibility. Does that automatically make her a content developer? Well, she did create the content which is accessed by users of the e-group, right? Now wouldn't that definition just subject us ALL to the licensing requirements?

Of course, the MC seems to direct its application only to commercial content developers. So that means content developers who derive profit from creating contents. Ah! But what if, as in the usual trend now, I write blog articles and get paid for every view that I get. That certainly makes me a commercial content developer, which means that, under the MC, I will have to pay P6,000 annually!

Maybe the NTC should consider a second draft, for better definition of words and for a clear scope of its application. And in addition, they should consider the feasibility of enforcement of such regulation device. I certainly hope that the public hearing did not go as chaotic as I imagine it would be.

ME AND RAGNAROK ONLINE

One of the biggest influences that I had during my undergraduate years was my involvement in the game called Ragnarok Online. It was through the game that I had met people that I wouldn't have known otherwise.

I have witnessed several hackings in progress. We would talk to our friends’ characters and when they sound weird, we texted our friends to confirm if they were really the ones piloting. If not, we would try to keep the hacker busy until our friend can do some countermeasures, e.g. changing passwords. Sometimes, we’re successful and sometimes we aren’t.

For those times that an acquaintance’s account does get hacked, no one bothers to report it to the NBI. It would just be an increased hassle and it will result to nothing. We knew we would only be reporting to people who probably knew less about using a computer and would also probably care less.

Without making the process of complaining better, and without making the NBI more credible in actually knowing what to do in those cases, a lot of hackers and crackers would be able to get away with more. And there’s nothing that can be done except look.

Virginity: $3.7M

How much does virginity costs these days? Apparently, the going price is about US$ 3.7M. Yes, three point seven million US dollars. See Telegraph news article here.

The Natalie Dylan story has sparked countless debates over the blogosphere, covering issues such as whether this is akin to prostitution, whether it is even legal to "sell" your virginity, and whether the woman is really a virgin in the first place.

And this isn't the first time that a woman's virginity was put up for auction. Back in 2004, a 18-year old student named Rosie Reid also sold her virginity via online auction. (See BBC news article here) Just like Natalie, Rosie also had student loans to pay for.

After reading about Natalie and Rosie, I can't help but feel happy that I'm studying at the UP College of Law. :-P

The Blackberry Problem

Newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama is a new generation politician. He uses technology for communication. And he's very much into the hand-held email-capable gadgets like his old blackberry. The problem is, his blackberry isn't spy-proof, and it doesn't quite meet the standards of the Secret Service. BlackBerries weren't designed for encryption that protects secret status messages. The sole exception is a model calledthe Sectera Edge from General Dynamics, which allows for top secret voice conversations. But it's unclear at this point if Obama has been issued this replacement.

Another problem is how his personal e-mails and other messages would fit into public record laws, like the Presidential Records Act, which requires records to be preserved in the National Archives. If Obama insists on keeping his blackberry, even his personal messages may be put on record.

Obama claims that he fights to keep his blackberry in order to have other voices reaching out and updating him on the status of America. But when the choice is between interconnectedness and national security, which will give way?

Synergy and the Format War

I had an interesting conversation with a techie friend yesterday. She was commenting on the blu-ray disc v. HD DVD competition (a.k.a the format war) and how she can’t believe the more expensive technology (blu-ray) got picked for development. For first half of our conversation, I simply nodded where I deemed it appropriate. I knew about blu-ray and I knew what HD DVD was and that was enough for me. Never mind the complexity of technology development. It was not half way through her narration that I realized something. The format war was ultimately decided by one player – Sony. (Analysts believe that Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console played an important role in the format war, believing it acted as a catalyst for Blu-ray Disc, as the PlayStation 3 used a Blu-ray Disc drive as its primary information storage medium. Of course, the changing alliance between companies was also created)

Blu-ray’s success may be attributed to Sony’s corporate synergy. In marketing, we use the term synergy to refer to the promotion and sale of a product (and all its versions) throughout the various subsidiaries of a media conglomerate. The best example of corporate synergy is the Walt Disney Company, which own motion picture studios, record labels, cable television networks, radio networks, hotels and theme parks all over the world. (Think of Hannah Montana’s success. Disney Channel created her tv show, Hollywood Records produced her album, and Radio Disney played her songs). With the Blu-ray disk, the moment Sony committed to developing the technology, the war was half-way over. Sony, like Walt Disney Company, had its finger in all the pies in the industry that uses the technology: Sony Pictures Entertainment (tv and film production house), Sony Computer Entertainment (video games), Sony Music Entertainment (the record label), and of course, the Sony brand commands brand recognition in consumer electronics. With each business feeding the other, Sony had a definite consumer of the technology – Sony can manufacture the discs, their record label, production house, and video games can consume it, and the electronic appliances they produce can play it.

The format war is an interesting insight on how technology development can be dictated by many that turned out to be only one. Interestingly enough, synergy the term is also used to describe a situation where the final outcome of a system is greater than the sum of its parts.

d2 n me...wer n u?

Like so many of us, I usually abbreviate my words when I text…but, it was only recently that I realized that I also do the same to the words in my emails. Instead of spelling the words properly, we usually resort to the phonetic spelling of the words. Who can blame us, our SMS message can only carry 163 characters, plus, typing all those letters to spell out the words would give us carpal tunnel syndrome hehe…

I sometimes spell words incorrectly, and there are times when I had to recite the " “i" before "e" except after "c" or when sounded like "a" as in neighbor or weigh; and except seize and seizure and also leisure, weird, height, and either, forfeit, and neither ” just to make sure that I got the spelling right. Texting has made me lose the ability to spell the words correctly without relying on crutches like that grade school poem.

One professor said text messaging has made us more illiterate. Instead of spelling words according to the combination of letters made by lexicographers, we now spell them using a method that our “ninuno” used before, via phonetics. Instead of moving forward, we are now slowly regressing towards a system which we abandoned long ago. Who knows, maybe in the future we might go back to using the alibata.

Only 15 Minutes Before Deadline: Screw Giving This Piece a Proper Title

I love downloading media files from iTunes. The iTunes store has so much music and audiobooks and movies for sale that it will make your head spin. So I periodically mooch off generous relatives and convince them to gift me with an iTunes gift certificate from time to time.

I just bought a new laptop and was really excited about loading all my hard-earned music into it. Lo and behold, I couldn’t play some of my music on my new laptop because apparently, the account I was using had already reached the limit of authorized machines. An iTunes account allows you to play and share the music you bought to five computers. Only. As I am on my fifth Mac, and earlier in the day, I allowed my significant other to use my iTunes account, I couldn’t authorize my new baby to play my old music. If I had known that my love and generosity would later backfire on me, I should’ve let the significant other listen to his own (horrible) music.

I cursed at the genius named Steve Jobs and his people, for making a policy such as this. Thinking about my property rights, I thought, “I bought the music, I should be able to listen to it on every machine I like”, but they’ve limited it to five. How did they come up with that number anyway?

Before I lost my cool, I fiddled around some more and found an option to deauthorize all previously authorized computers. I clicked on that option, hoping that my significant other would never realize that I have divorced him from my digital realm.

Almost Free TV

Every once in a while, I take a stroll down the famous streets of Evangelista, Hidalgo, and Arlegui streets, as well as the surrounding areas in the City of Manila. During my last visit, something caught my eye. There were several stores displaying big dishes. Out of curiosity, I went towards the store and asked what those dishes were. The chinese attendant said that it was free sattelite TV. She promptly did a product demo, and explained every component part and how the system works. What was surprising was that the total cost of setting it up amounts to only about half a years’ subscription cost of the leading sattelite tv provider. The attendant was even boasting that I would never have to pay subscription fees for cable tv ever again.

After learning how the system works and its costs, I asked the attendant if it was actually legal to get free sattelite TV broadcasts. “Libre naman yan ser, mga Free-to-Air channels lang naman ang kasama” she said in a matter-of –factly tone with a matching chinese accent. I asked what the Free-to-Air channels are, and she gladly showed me the complete list of available channels.(which was almost the same as that of a mid range cable tv subscription).

I have doubts about the legality of setting up such a system, because the major providers charge a hefty sum for their subscriptions. And I really didn't quite understand if "Free-to- Air" channels really are meant to be free. But, in the off chance that it is indeed legal, it’s a great way to get your favorite sattelite/cable channels almost free.

Rockstars And Why They Suck

If you've recently purchased GTA IV, the latest game from Rockstar Games, then I'm sure you're experiencing the same problem as thousands of other gamers who blew off their hard earned cash on what was probably the most anticipated sequel of the franchise. For lack of a better word, the Pc version of this game is well... sh#t! An expensive piece of sh*t. While there are numerous reasons why this game sucks, i will limit the discussion to the ones that really grind my gears: 1.) the FPS 2.) the In game crashes 3.) the DRM mechanism 4.) the Lack of support. 5.) the future proofing gimmick.

FPS refers to frames per second. The higher the FPS the smoother the animation of the game. FPS matters in games like first person shooters where smooth movement and quick reaction spell the difference between landing a headshot or getting plugged up the nether regions by an MP5 spray. This is the reason why gamers make companies like Nvidia or ATI richer by investing in high end video cards (a component that increases a PC's graphic capabilities) specifically to make their gaming experience much better. I would consider 25-30 fps as "playable" but in my gaming rig which is an 8800 gt in SLI format, i only get 15-20 fps., where as in Crysis (another graphically demanding game) i could get around 80-90. This means that when I pan the camera, the game stutters like i'm watching some 80's stop motion animation flick. Even players with more expensive video cards like the GTX 280 (P23,000) have the same problem.

Second, the game crashes after playing it for around 2 hours. I have about 4 gigs of ram in my rig which runs on windows vista so this shouldn't have been a problem. However, research on the forum reveals that the game suffers from memory leaks which can cause system crashes. I had to reinstall windows because the game froze and somehow ruined my other installations (vista problem)

Third, in order to curb piracy, Rockstar requires you to log in to their website in order to play the game. Also you have to have games for windows live running in the background. That's two processes that you have to have running in your system while GTA IV runs too! For those who don't have an internet connection, there is an offline mode but you can't save the game! So unless you plan to spend 80 hours straight just playing the game, this feature is utterly useless especially for students like me (ahem) who need "time" to "study for law school." As of this writing I have seen pirated copies of the game being sold so I don't see how these features make the game harder to pirate. If anything, it makes the game harder to enjoy for gamers who buy the original product.

Fourth, despite the numerous complaints, Rockstar games has, up to date, released only one patch. And this patch they released made the game even more buggier! There have been reports on loss of in game sound and well as non stop camera spinning when using a controller.

Fifth, the game automatically adjusts your graphic settings for you and does not allow you to change them manually. For some players, like me, we don't mind giving up settings like high quality texture rendering or screen resolution if it will increase our FPS. But GTA IV won't let you do this and you are stuck with the setting the game chooses for you. Even for gamers with P100,000 rigs are unable to run the game at full settings (don't even get me started at anti-aliasing). Rockstar says that it's because there isn't any hardware available now that can handle the full graphical requirements. What's the point of releasing a game that doesn't allow you to enjoy all of the features? I'm not going to wait for 3 years for technology to catch up and invest another sh*t load of money to upgrade my hardware just to play a game that by then, would have already been 3 years old!

In closing, this could have been one of the best games to ever come out on the PC for 2008 but well, rockstars will be rockstars...

Someone To Watch Over You

After 9/11 happened, America has become obsessed on ensuring national security. They have resorted to stringent airport measures and urged other countries to do the same. They have also resorted to data mining - piecing together bits of information gathered from various sources to come up with a theory or even a conclusion that some person is a threat to national security, a terrorist. This practice raises issues concerning the violation of civil liberties and leads one to wonder which is more scary: to not know that a terrorist is amongst us or to have private details of your life accessible to others. According to an article in The Economist, it seems to be that the very thing which purports to safeguard liberty may also threaten it. Must it be accepted that they are corollary to each other? In data mining, the state violates the very thing that it seeks to protect. It may be argued that police power trumps private interests. However, while police power is said to be the one of the most (if not the most) illimitable, pervasive powers of the state, it is still subject to due process and other limitations.

Luck of the Draw

This week at Melbourne Park, the Australian Open began. In the world of tennis, it is the first Grand Slam event of the year. While I am ultimately rooting for Roger Federer to win this particular event, there are also lesser known players that I am also rooting for (not necessarily to win but at least to get in deep into the tournament), for example, the up and coming Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Unfortunately, the television coverage for the tournament only showcases the matches involving the likes of Federer, Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic.

Wanting to see Gulbis play, I desperately searched the net for any site that shows live tennis being played. Luckily for me, in a tennis blog, there is a link to a broadcast of live plays in different courts in Melbourne Park. I hurriedly clicked the link and lo and behold, the site is for real (knowing the internet, I was pleasantly surprised).

I do not know the extent of the lawfulness of the service that was provided because at the back of my head, I kept on thinking that I should be paying for this broadcast while watching the match. But quite frankly, I did not really care. I was watching the match that I wanted and though I would prefer to watch it in Australia, my current financial state would not let me.

And even though Gulbis lost the match, I am quite content knowing that the next time I want to watch a particular match, I know where to go.

---
Rivera, Jan Michael A.
02-16779

Upgrade, Downgrade

Most of us salivate after the shiny new gadgets giant companies manufacture and market specifically for suckers like us.

A new generation of cellphones pop out every three or so months, a slight upgrade from what just came out, and we drool to kingdom come dying to get our hands on it.

That sparkling new laptop makes us lose sleep. Gaming devices, digicams, handycams, SLRs, Mp4s and what-have-you come out as frequently.

Not many though can satisfy one’s lust for all things techie and new, especially during these difficult times.

For those who are able to go ahead and indulge in their techie fantasies, the novelty wears off quickly, the paroxysms of pleasure from cracking open the box and fidgeting with the new acquisition is soon forgotten.

And the cycle starts anew.

What happens then to the discarded toys?

Good if they end up with a sibling or a child or some relative all too willing to inherit the downgrade.

Recently, one of the more popular cellphone manufacturers came out with a recycle program. But it’s basically CSR ergo BS.

In reality they become junk, creating the need for some new landfill, further downgrading our already deteriorating planet.

cyber-stalking

I’ve just very recently joined the online application “twitter”. According to its homepage, it’s “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” It seemed harmless enough so I signed up. The first 3 updates were just random thoughts that I was sure would go unnoticed. To my surprise, a couple of people were soon following my account. This meant that my updates would appear on their homepage every time they logged in. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think anything of this since I do have accounts in other social networking sites. The thing I found most weird about this instance was that these people were complete strangers. I then wondered what business they had subscribing to my updates and finding out what I was doing at certain points in time.

I then remembered my theory that the internet oiled the way for stalking. I’ll admit that I have used it one time too many to look up certain individuals but I think twitter-ing is a whole new level. I’m not saying all twitters are stalkers. I just have a feeling that I’ve stumbled upon THE stalker’s lair. Mwahahahaha.

IT security trends in 2009

Recognized leader in the computer security, backup, storage, and systems industry Symantec recently identified four key trends that organizations should consider in securing and managing information this year. These include: 1) consumerization of IT, 2) information as the prime target for malicious attacks and the booming underground economy, 3) IT governance driving organizations to look at their risk exposures and compliance status, and 4) ongoing migration from tapes to disks dramatically transforming the way data are stored and managed.

Apart from making money and staying afloat, businesses these days have to contend with IT security threats. As experts would say, the impact of a security breach may be far greater than one would expect. Losing sensitive information directly may not only affect one's competitiveness and cash flow but also damage one's reputation -- something that would be quite hard to restore as it is to create it. It really poses a problem considering that cybercriminals have become highly sophisticated, driving a flourishing underground economy and dealing in the organized theft and transmission of sensitive business and personal data. No choice but to factor all of these in. Data protection could spell the difference between business success and failure.

Much Ado About Nothing

Have you ever thought about the average time people spend on the Internet? Well, Stanford just published a study saying that we are online roughly 3 hours everyday. That's twice the amount of time we spend watching T.V. The figures are simply astounding. Those are a lot of hours that I will never be able to get back. This would mean that I spend 1080 hours every year frying my brain on useless bits of information and YouTube videos. After finding out about this study, I tried to comfort making my brain a little more active by looking at reviews of novels which I have but haven't read yet and I practically spent two hours just reading the user reviews - two hours which I could have used to digest some of the 2-page sentences in Proust's Swann's Way (In Search of A Lost Time). I got depressed, of course. I found that the only way to feel better about yourself in these times is to go to gofugyourself.celebuzz.com so I can see Rihanna's latest leather Spandex/leather fashion catastrophe. I'm worried about my SLR now. I think I'll go stuffblackpeoplehate.com or stuffwhitepeoplelike.com so I could gloat - online.I.must.stop.now.

*For the stats, click http://www.clickz.com/3455061

3 Strike Limit to Fair Use

Most of those who are in the habit of contributing to the mass of useful information and mind numbing distractions on the Internet are generally secure in the promise of the "fair use" doctrine - that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted material for purposes of commentary and criticism. One prime example of fair use at work is the abundance of videos on YouTube utilizing snippets from copyrighted movies and songs and uploaded by regular folks who feel they have something constructive to share with the rest of the world. Kevin Lee, a film critic and a blogger, was one those guys who relied on the belief that user-generated content = free speech. After three DMCA notices/ warnings, his account was closed by YouTube. While admitting that the first two notices may have arisen from videos bordering on infringement, he claims that his "online essay video" did not merit a third strike. YouTube has adopted a hands-off policy, saying that their job is merely to pass on the notice from the copyright holder and that they will not expose themselves to lawsuits by deciding whether a fair use claim is indeed justified. This, of course, leaves the critic/ commentator/ "regular guy with something to say" wondering if his next masterpiece will ever make in cyberspace since it seems like the work can be taken down immediately based on some unknown, unilateral criteria. This system will be problematic in the real world, because then the user can actually have a shot at proving purpose or transformative effect before the copyright owner can prohibit use.

Please add me


As of yesterday, I am officially a Facebook member and active “networker”. The reason for this sudden interest in networking in general has been due to the fact that I am co-heading the HYLA* for the Portia Sorority. These past days I have been flooding Friendster, Multiply, Facebook, Pinoylaw, the Association of Law Students in the Philippines, and all my yahoogroups with information regarding the HYLA. If in the past, I was just a casual observer and invisible lurker, now I am as loud and post-crazy as my high school brother.
**
The idea of using Facebook was suggested to me by a high school friend. He said that Facebook provides easier access to people who are, and who might be in your network. And every move you make, the network (direct and extended) knows about it. As he aptly put it “bawat hinga mo, alam.” On a normal day this would really freak me out; I don’t need (and want to know) that such and such are now friends, or that so and so became a fan of something, etc. But considering the fact that HYLA has gone national, I need as much publicity as I can.
**
HYLA is Haydee Yorac Leadership Award is given to one woman student leader selected from any law school in the Philippines. Please nominate one now. For more information, see us at the Portia Room, or read the black poster/tarpaulin with a nasty smell.
**
Maria Cristina Yambot

Tainted Transactions

My best friend decided she was giving her sister a new iPod for her birthday in a few weeks. Pressed for time, she turned to online shopping, which she had actually been resorting to of late.
She came across a seller who seemed promising, and his positive feedback from previous clients let her agree for arrangements for an iPod to be had. Messages were exchanged, a deposit was made and confirmation was had. He said that the tracking number would be sent to my friend in a moment. That was, however, the last she heard from him. He had since cancelled his account with the popular online store, changed his mobile number or had turned off his phone, and refused to answer instant messages. That was it.
It's thieving sellers like these who give online shopping a bad reputation. Ripped off buyers don't have much to do as authorities appear to be helpless.
I've made countless transactions online. Thankfully, I have yet to come across someone as this man.

Vista, Xbox & Microsoft's dirty laundry

Calling Microsoft a "software giant" is like saying Yao Ming is of above-average height. Microsoft itself claims a market share of over 93%, though some sources contest this figure. What isn't contested, however, is the company's overwhelming dominance in the industry. To put this in perspective, the second-largest market share goes to the Mac OS at 3%. (Does anyone have an idea what the remaining 4% use? I have no clue. Linux and other open-source OSs are free and don't count.)

While not as dominant in the gaming console industry, Microsoft is likewise a fierce competitor. It comes in fourth in unit sales, behind the Wii, the DS handheld, and the PS3. The company claims however, that consumer spending on Xbox and accessories equal total spending on the PS3 and the Wii combined in the period that these consoles have shared the market.

The behemoth, however, is under siege. A deceptive practices suit filed against Microsoft in 2007 was granted class-action status last year. The suit claims that Microsoft misled consumers by allowing PC vendors to label units as "Vista Capable" when, in fact, the vast majority of these machines could run only the low-end version of Vista, called Home Basic, and did not have the specs necessary to run the high-profile Aero interface. The court has already opened embarrassing internal communications to public scrutiny, including documented discussions on whether the Home Basic OS should have been labelled Vista at all.

The Xbox has also given rise to a multiplicity of class-action suits. Reports published last year claimed that Microsoft was aware of quality control issues in the manufacture of the Xbox 360, yet chose to release the console anyway. The absurdly high rate of console failures, damaged discs and consumer frustration that followed predictably led to litigation. Likewise, class-action suits have been filed over frequent Xbox Live server outages, and separate class actions over an Xbox software update that allegedly "bricked" consoles.

While I am a vocal critic of the litigation-happy culture that prevails in the US, I cannot help but feel a certain degree of satisfaction as Microsoft collectively squirms in their undoubtedly cushy seats. I have used their products since the days of MS-DOS, when hard drives had 600Mb of memory and processors had 16Mb of RAM. What Microsoft needs to realize is that their products and their services are such a ubiquitous part of daily life that irresponsible behavior on their part causes inconvenience and frustration for millions of people all over the world. If Microsoft learns a lesson about their responsibility to consumers, I'll be happy. Never mind if the fools get paid.

Who you gonna call? The Department of Justice Task Force on Cybercrime!

Sounds fancy, huh? In case you didn’t already know (I didn’t), back in 2007, the DOJ created a task force to deal with cybersecurity issues in legislation and investigation. It was developed to pursue the e-government agenda, institutionalize a cybersecurity regime and implement laws. The task force works closely with the Council of Europe, a private organization, and local experts composed of IT practitioners and other stakeholders. The task force is expected to work with the NBI and PNP. One of its objectives is to push for the swift passage of the cybercrime prevention act.

The first cybercrime case for 2008 was filed with the Department of Justice Task Force on Cybercrime. It was a hacking case filed by the NBI Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division. It involved a former employee of a local manufacturing company accused of stealing company secrets using a universal serial bus thumb drive. Hacking is punishable under Section 33a of the E-Commerce Act. The accused also faces other charges for qualified theft, libel and revelation of secrets under the RPC. So if you’re thinking of stealing information, write it down instead. It’ll save you a few years in prison.

A Dangerous Addiction

In this country, the mobile phone is the preferred choice of communication due to its versitility and affordability. Additionally, texting has become our ultimate tool for communication. It enables us to be readily in touch with loved ones (near and far) or send jokes to our friends. It has been used for basically anything anyone can imagine.
But what is the downside of this form of technology? There is a hidden danger of being enslaved by the tool we've created. I actually once saw a man budget his P50 lunch money to 1 cup of rice and only 1/2 "ulam" so that he'd still have P20 left for prepaid credits. He would rather be a bit hungry than without "load."
Everyday I see all types of people using their phones while working, or walking, or driving or even during class. It has literally come to a point that we can't even leave the house sans our cell phones for fear of losing contact with the rest of humanity. Unfortunately, it is an addiction no one has realized yet. Maybe no one will ever get cured since nobody even sees the problem. We're all hooked.

Hello, technical support?

I remember my first technical support agent all the way back from my iconnect days. Her name was Glyneth Dinggal and she was an angel. I was in sixth grade and it was my first time to use the internet and when i couldn't figure out my eudora mail or when netscape navigator wouldn't load, i'd dial their hotline and ask for her by name. I'll bet giving me her name was the biggest mistake of her technical support life. Pretty soon, I was calling her for various problems that a little DIY troubleshooting could have solved for me.

And then the inevitable happened, super-skilled Glyneth probably advanced in the corporate ladder and she was no longer there to entertain my questions. And THAT was the best thing she did for my internet-using life. I began tinkering with the settings by myself. I would search Yahoo for other people who had the same problems, for programs I wanted, for viruses I needed to get rid of. Its amazing how empowering the Internet can be in terms of providing you with an access to the stream of common knowledge and experience. Troubleshooting forums are heaven-sent (if you know how to find the good ones at least.) Its even more gratifying and empowering to be able to post your own suggested solutions and later on find out that they work.

So to you, Glyneth Dinggal, thank you. I now know how to fix an IP address conflict (turn the PS3 off! He he he!)

Hold on to your butts, it’s The Internets

We’ve been discussing a lot about how people like to mess with things that are none of their business by using the internets. Either they’re bored, malevolent, or just out to see who’s the mackest daddy of them all at being a jerk. A whole world away from these nard-kickers are the innocent web-communities of people looking for like-minded individuals to discuss pressing issues with. Such as the good folk at mlhh.org (that’s Men’s Long Hair Hyperboard). These dashing gents take their lush locks very seriously, discussing how to brush their precious tresses, probably what vitamins make them blow in the wind more gracefully, and, surely, what gentle lullaby to sing to them at night. These guys rock their immaculate manes for the greater good of all long-hairs, which is decidedly un-insalubrious and a far cry from the hackers we’ve been talking about. It’s refreshing to see the internets being used in an innocent (albeit creepy) manner for once. This group must be good for long-haired self-esteem, if the lad on their home page is any indication. He's half Allman Brothers roadie and half Unabomber, but he looks as though he knows that he's actually complete sexiness.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Interactive kids

Interactive used to mean sociable. How great someone is at making friends, talking to people, working with others, or any other means of socializing. Now, it would usually involve computers and video games. The kids now barely talk when 'socializing'; it is all in their hands.
As time passes, more and more kids, especially students, spend time in computer shops. Even the jocks make friends with the nerds when playing warcraft and similar games. Grade school students even get to know law students during their playtime. The young and the old all get to communicate through the game they love. When you are new at a place, hanging out at computer shops has been known to be a good means of making friends with the locals.
Yes, they get to meet more people. However, it seems that these relationships are only connected by the internet and video games.
At the end of the day, do they really make friends? Could they have truly communicated? Are these toys REALLY interactive?

Giulia Pineda
2001-64304

My Cluttered E-mail

I am a member of 26 e-groups and an owner/moderator of 6. The influx of e-mail from these groups and notifications from Friendster and Multiply have actually added to my clutter anxiety. Somehow, I want my e-mail to be clutter-free, yet I don't want to delete any message until I've read them. I want to read each and every junk, joke or chain mail (except Spam, as it may contain a virus or something. So now, I have a total of 4,793 unread messages. Just seeing this number makes me feel inefficient already.

One of my solutions is to use my account's filter options. While it doesn't lessen my e-mail backlog, it gives me some (false) assurance that I'm being organized still. This categorization also ensures that I'll be able to find an e-mail from a particular e-group easily.

However, Yahoo Mail only provides 15 filters and I've used them all up. Now I'm thinking maybe I should unsubscribe from my inactive groups... Maybe that'll cause my unread messages to dwindle down to 3,000! Yey!

Mean Girls, Next Level

One of the worst things about being a victim of cybercrime is that sinking feeling that you can’t do anything about it. Because of the immense freedom and anonymity on the Internet, people feel they can do pretty much anything and get away with it. My friend A had the unfortunate experience of having her contact details displayed on mail-order bride and pornographic websites. She didn’t understand why all of a sudden she was getting a lot of lewd phonecalls. To her horror, one of the men explained to her that they were simply responding to her rather provocative personal ads on the Net. Luckily we had an I.T. genius of a friend who figured everything out. He removed the ads and even traced them back to the culprit. The mastermind turned out to be B, the wife of A’s ex-boyfriend. As a back story, this girl, B, was actually the 3rd party who caused my friend, A, to break up with her cheating boyfriend. B got pregnant and so the guy married her. Apparently, B did this to get back at A because the guy confessed to her that he never really got over my friend (like it was A’s fault?!). Our I.T.-genius-of-a-friend explained it was fairly easy for him because B didn’t really cover her tracks well. In creating the profiles, she had put her location complete with zipcode and he later confirmed her identity by the password she used. Case closed. The unfortunate thing is, not all cybercriminals are amateurs like her. If you are pretty clueless about I.T. and this happens to you, just what do you do?

It can be argued that our laws may be broad enough to accommodate instances of “modern crime,” such as this. Nonetheless, I can just imagine the difficulty entailed in proving the elements of the crime, especially when the judge is technologically-challenged. To complicate matters, it’s like trying to hunt down a terrorist in the borderless realm of the Internet – one who doesn’t play fair, and if he’s pretty good, the victim may never prove, much less, know his true identity. This is a problem not only for celebrities, but even for private individuals because there will always be psychos out there who can easily take advantage of the Net’s convenience and anonymity to further their nefarious purposes. My friend never did anything to retaliate. She doesn’t need to, anyway. B has suffered a fate far worse than unwittingly being advertised as a mail-order bride -- that is, actually being married to a guy who will never love you back.

Cybersquatting (part 1)

“Cybersquatting” also known as domain squatting, is the act of registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark. (http://www.nolo.com/article.cfm/objectID/60EC3491-B4B5-4A98-BB6E6632A2FA0CB2/111/228/195/ART/). Cybersquatters hold for ransom the names of existing businesses as domain names, the release of which is given to the highest bidder – usually an owner of a trademark contained in the domain name.

Bad faith characterizes this practice since the name is taken with the intent to profit from a trademark owned by someone else. The profit is earned by selling these names with prices far beyond the amounts the Cybersquatters may have paid when they registered the domain name. The use of defamation or slander, made regarding businesses the name is suppose to represent, is only one of the methods these squatters use in order to compel the owners to purchase the domain name from them.

It is one of the many legal issues that needs to be addressed by legislation, particularly in the field of Intellectual Property Law. One might ask “may this be considered a crime? “Does the fact that bad faith is involved make the act criminal or may the problem be properly addressed by civil remedies?”

BP22

The United States have just inducted thier first cyber-president. Obama's campaign can be seen to be a course on how to run for public office in the 21st Century. It is my firm belief that the Filipinos can apply the same. I believe we can. Yes we can!
That is why I would like to announce my intentions to run for Philippine President on the May 2022 National Polls. Suggestions as to what to put in my platform and how to conduct my campaign will be most welcome. Campaign contributions will also be welcome.
Bones Palanca in 2022 - BP22!

Cyber Catfight

I confess...I was once engaged in a "cyber word war" in Friendster, back when it was still very popular. It was harsh, it was rotten but more than anything, it was petty. It was with a girl I barely knew, I didn't have her contact number, I didn't know where she lived, I don't even know how it started. Friendster was our only way of "communicating". How did it work? You know the drill. I'd post something nasty about her in my profile and she'd respond with something more degrading, of course. This would “inspire” me to concoct comebacks that were abominable and so on. Everyday, I checked out my site and hers just to make sure I didn’t miss a new post she might have added. There was no way I would throw in the towel first.

Now I realize cyber word wars are actually less complicated than actual girl-to-girl collisions. No screaming, no hair-pulling, no oral name-calling. More importantly, they could end as soon as you realize the stupidity you’ve gotten yourself into. Don’t view the profile, change your settings to private or delete your account. And it’s so easy to forget all the brainless activity you’ve just allowed yourself to do. Just click Delete or Edit. So much for all the emotional trouble.

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?

About 4 years ago, I became a regular FOB in San Francisco. I did not know a soul and I only had my father's credit card and his occasional phone calls to help me get by. So upon the advice of an aunt, I turned to craigslist. It was heaven-sent. I was able to get a job, an apartment, a roommate, and a very very nice Ethan Allen sofa for 50 bucks. Though I had to get somebody I knew personally to drive a U-haul during my move.

Craigslist is a mini neighborhood. You get job postings, apartment listings, the ever-amusing personals, everything for sale, and you can even share about the day you had.

If your about to go on vacation, check craigslist first and see if the place you're visiting has a site there, you'll get to know the humor and culture of the place quickly.

Be cautioned though, some sites are still in the early stages and have pretty lame postings.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free cable?

While mindlessly surfing the net, I happened to stumble upon this site called justin.tv. Of course I had heard that 19 year old Abraham K. Briggs committed suicide on this site but I never really bothered to know what justin.tv was all about. So one day I decided to find out why Mr. Briggs ended his life prematurely and was shocked to find... FREE CABLE! It turns out that on this site, you can find a lot of channels which videostream content based on the preference of the channel owner. I found myself watching 24 hours of dragonball Z and on one channel I was able to watch that new flick by Bradd Pitt called "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons" and it wasn't even showing in theaters yet. So I thought to myself is this sh*t legal? Well I did a little research and found that justin.tv originally started off as a lifecasting project which means that the channels on this site videostreamed the life of whomever owned the channel ala Jim Carrie's Truman Show. At the onset, Justin Kan, one of the founders of the site, attached a webcam to his head and streamed the contents of his everday life for all to see via his site. Eventually the technology was made open to applicants and people could just create their own channels with customizable content. There are thousands of channels on Justin.tv and not all of them show lifestreams... you can even find channels devoted to anime only... If you know where to look :) So is this the future of television? Well all I can say for now is KAMEHAMEHA!

blogging the blogosphere

Having spun my wheels spending the better half of the day trying to conjure up an entry topic, I got to thinking about why people even bother reading blogs. Do those 100 million readers actually give a hoot about Perez Hilton's take on last night's American Idol episode?

Some studies suggest that avid blog readers aren't drawn in so much by content, but become slaves to the blogosphere out of sheer habit. It's like when most of us turn on the TV and mindlessly channel surf for hours, all the while complaining that there's nothing good on. Every night.

But while the passiveness of TV lulls us into complacency, blogging offers a more interactive setting, with a wider content base and the added ability of commenting on or creating new content. How many times have you just wanted to smack Rachael Ray upside the head for saying "Yum-O"? Now you can blog your slanderous rantings, which is the next best thing. Or, as in the recent Pangandaman incident, put an egotistical mayor to justice through viral journalism.

Still, most any daft trolling attention whore can make a living out of blogging about nothing nowadays and get away with it. 

There, 200 words.