Yearly Archives: 2005

Sony managers (i.e. Cyber Criminals) should go to jail.

1) Creator of Melissa Computer Virus Sentenced to 20 Months in Federal Prison
NEWARK – The New Jersey man accused of unleashing the “Melissa” computer virus in 1999, causing millions of dollars in damage and infecting untold numbers of computers and computer networks, was sentenced today to 20 months in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie and state Attorney General David Samson announced.
2) Pathogen Virus Perpetrator sentenced to 18 months in prison
On 15 November 1995, a judge sentenced Pile to 18 months in prison. The judge declared: “Those who seek to wreak mindless havoc on one of the vital tools of our age cannot expect lenient treatment.”
3) Sony installed spyware on the computers of anyone who simply inserted some of Sony music CDs into her Windows-based computer. Users were not informed of this installation. [Paradox: you buy the CD, you get the virus. At least Pathogen and Melissa were free!!!]
So simple question: if Melissa brought 20 yearsmonths in jail to his creator and Pathogen 18 yearsmonths, how many yearsmonths you think Sony managers should spend in jail?
And I don’t even want to believe that one of the world’s largest software and information technology companies, Computer Associates International Inc. says the truth. They claim that the antipirating software also secretly communicates with Sony over the Internet when listeners play the discs on computers that have an Internet connection. The software uses this connection to transmit the name of the CD being played to an office of Sony’s music division in Cary, N.C. The software also transmits the IP address of the listener’s computer, Computer Associates said, but not the name of the listener. But Sony can still use the data to create a profile of a listener’s music collection, according to Computer Associates. and confirming its new status, Computer Associates yesterday reclassified Sony’s software as spyware and will begin searching for and removing XCP with its anti-spyware software.
Sony says that’s not true and I believe Sony, that would be astonishingly criminal behaviour, just think about it for one second! No, that’s not even thinkable! I could not believe they would do this.
In the meantime, PcWorld reports that an Italian digital rights organisation has taken the first step toward possible criminal charges over the XCP software which, it was recently discovered, cloaks itself on users’ computers and communicates with Sony servers over the Internet. The group, calling itself the ALCEI-EFI (Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications – Electronic Frontiers Italy), filed a complaint (in Italian, babelfished) about Sony’s software with the head of Italy’s cyber-crime investigation unit, Colonel Umberto Rapetto of the Guardia di Finanza. The complaint alleges that XCP violates a number of Italy’s computer security laws by causing damage to users’ systems and by acting in the same way as malicious software, according to Andrea Monti, chair of the ALCEI-EFI. “What Sony did qualifies as a criminal offense under Italian law,” he said.
I hope Sony will be submerged by Legal investigations. Sony managers should start reading Cyber Criminals on Trial.
So what you can do? Of course stop buying anything related to Sony. Precise information can be found on Boycott Sony blog in which I just read this pearl:
Sony President of Global Digital Business Thomas Hesse dropped the most outrageous statement to date on their DRM nightmare during an NPR interview, in which he stated that “Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” (…) Some day someone will write a marketing case study about what not to do and say when dealing with a customer revolt, and that statement will be its epigraph.
UPDATE: I miswrote “years of jails” instead of “months of jails” and this of course was a big mistake.

Sony, DRM this!

This is really shocking! A collegue of mine just explained to me this root-kit sony thing and I can only say I think I got it wrong because it is so unbelievably evil that I cannot think I understood it correctly: so Sony was inserting since few years a root-kit in your Windows machine just if you happened to listen any cds (also legally bought!) on the pc!
Wikipedia definition of Rootkit: A rootkit is a set of tools frequently used by an intruder after cracking a computer system. These tools are intended to conceal running processes and files or system data, which helps an intruder maintain access to a system for malicious purposes.
Sony is THE definitive cracker, they install a software on your computer without telling it to you, a software that is designed to hide itself! Sony’s executives who ordered the projects should go directly to jail, they installed on millions of computers for years a malicious software of which the computers’ owners were not informed of. This is criminal behaviour! On mass scale! For years! I’m almost sure I got it wrong. It can’t be a so madly deviated behaviour!
From CNET article:
So, let’s make this a bit more explicit. You buy a CD. You put the CD into your PC in order to enjoy your music. Sony grabs this opportunity to sneak into your house like a virus and set up camp, and it leaves the backdoor open so that Sony or any other enterprising intruder can follow and have the run of the place. If you try to kick Sony out, it trashes the place.

It will be TransMedia

It will not be google, nor yahoo!, nor microsoft but Transmedia. Phew, interesting times these days, eh?
TransMedia Plots Death Of The Desktop in InformationWeek.
The Glide suite, due later this month, runs on the vendor’s own servers and is accessed through a browser. It includes applications for creating, sharing, and selling photos, music, video, and documents, as well as doing content management, calendaring, E-mail, and conferencing. Can TransMedia beat Microsoft and Google?
The software, disclosed in mid-October, is called Glide Effortless. It’s a set of 12 applications for content creation, communication, E-commerce, and sharing. The apps are Glide Photos, Glide Music, Glide Video, Glide Docs, Glide AllMedia, Glide Contacts, Glide Calendar, Glide Timeline (Glide’s search engine), Glide Mail, Glide Cast (audio, text, and video conferencing), Glide Share, and Glide Shops. Because the apps were developed simultaneously, they work in concert with elegance not evident in other loosely linked software programs like Apple’s consumer media applications or Microsoft Office.
Continue reading

Microsoft Office Live

58676031_e7d64bbc3c_m.jpgSo I was wrong. Microsoft, and not Google or Yahoo! as I forecasted, is going to deploy in short (well in short time for Microsoft means at least 5 months) an online version of Office, check This is a very clever move from Microsoft, one I really didn’t expect. Gates today announced that “We’re entering ‘live era’ of software”. While Microsoft is late (as always), its new forced online strategy (,, …) is surely interesting and the business models they will try to follow worth close monitoring, given Microsoft current monopoly on Desktop software. I’m more and more curious about what kind of operating system Vista will be.
More from zdnet:
Gates said Microsoft is working on two products, “Windows Live” and “Office Live,” that create opportunities for the company to sell online subscriptions and advertising. Both are targeted at smaller businesses and consumers.
The products won’t replace the company’s ubiquitous operating system or productivity suite, and people don’t need to have that software loaded to tap into the Web versions. “They are not required to use Windows or Office,” Gates said at a press event here.
Gates said that Windows Live is a set of Internet-based personal services, such as e-mail, blogging and instant messaging. It will be primarily supported by advertising and be separate from the operating system itself. Office Live will come in both ad-based and subscription versions that augment the popular desktop productivity suite.
“This advertising model has emerged as a very important thing,” Gates said.
But free products won’t replace paid software. Many of the Live releases will have payment tiers, Gates said, with the lowest levels free and ad-supported, and higher-end versions paid for by the user.
“We’ll have licenses and subscriptions as well,” Gates said. In many cases, companies will have a choice between running software on their own servers or as a Live service.
Acknowledging potential antitrust concerns, Gates said that Windows Live is built off published APIs (application programming interfaces) that its rivals will also have access to.
“It’s a dramatic sea change,” Gates said of the overall shift to online services.

Google+Sun OS announced: check Microsoft’s shares and predict the next future

[Update: re-released under CC-by for Sys-con (my blog posts are usually released under CC-by-sa)]
From Yahoo!News: Google, Sun Challenge Microsoft’s Office
Google Inc. took a big step toward challenging Microsoft Corp.’s dominance in computer word-processing and spreadsheets with the announcement Tuesday that it would distribute Java technology from Sun Microsystems Inc.
Few days ago I got a phone call, it was Jason Stamper from London, wow, I never got an interview call from London. He wanted to know about my forecast: Ajax Office available in less than one year. The article ended up in Computer Business Review and then got slashdotted. Wow, I have never been slashdotted. But let me be clear about it: I opened a project called AjaxOffice on Sourceforge because I was thinking about writing some code (I played with Javascript and the DOM model and you can create magic and this is easy-enough). I was thinking that a community would possibly gather around the project. In the process I set up a wiki and start collecting many similar projects and useful packages (some of them are Free Software). But I received many emails saying that the project is just vaporware, that I just want to get credit for something that other people are doing (I suspect all of them generated from few persons but I cannot tell of course).
So let me clear about it: yes, there is no code and, since I should write my PhD thesis and since there are already many interesting projects, I don’t have plan to write any code about it in the next few months. I plan to shout down the project shortly and just leave pointers to other Free Software projects that are already ahead creating a Web Office suite (Zimbra manages emails and contacts by now but check the video and hold your jaw (it is Free Software). But there are other intersting projects as well, just look in the ajaxoffice wiki).
Anyway, it seems that with the “one year” forecast I have been conservative.

In fact, this post is about the today joint announcement of Google and Sun. This is really disruptive for the entire computer, software industry.
Don’t you think that Google and Sun have already spoken with Hardware producers in order to have their system pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people? I think so. And I can already foresee the scene in a normal computer shop: the seller is going to ask: “Ok, we have chosen your computer. So, which system do you want on? The crappy Windows XP or the new shiny Sun system with bright OpenOffice and Google widgets already integrated? By the way, the Microsoft one costs 100 euros more.”
Well, if you want a first idea, check the stocks: quotes of Microsoft vs Google (last 5 days) and quotes of Microsoft vs Sun (last 5 days).
And look at what Scoble keeps saying: the thick client is coming back. I understand that you have to say it but really, Scoble, do you believe your own words? Or are you secretly selling all your Microsoft stocks?
Question for you, reader: “which you would rather give up – your browser, or all the rest of your desktop apps?”. First, answer. Ok, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun President, asked this very same question to the audience at a keynote and I can imagine you can predict the answers he got.

Last point of an already too long post: having an alternative in the software market will be simply great for everyone, having concurrency is always better, having a monopoly is always worst. In this way, normal people will start undestanding that there is an alternative (TIAA), i.e. Windows is not the computer. The fact that OpenOffice is in the new system is good since OpenOffice is Free Software, software that gives you freedom. I don’t think that the Java Desktop code is Free Software (see licence) but I think sooner or later Sun will have to release it under GPL. [The fact that most of this new Google+Sun system will use online services, for which they don’t have to release the code, is the topic of another long post].
By the way, I think this is a great opportunity for a Free Software GNU/Linux system to really become available pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people, my forecast this time is that it will be Ubuntu. Yours?

If Google Print is illegal, so is Google

From Lessig Blog:
Google has been sued by the Authors Guild, and a number of individual authors. (…)The authors and the publishers consider Google’s latest fantastic idea, Google Print “a project to Google-ize 20,000,000 books � to be �massive copyright infringement.� They have asked a federal court to shut Google Print down.
(…)Google wants to do nothing more to 20,000,000 books than it does to the Internet: it wants to index them, and it offers anyone in the index the right to opt out. If it is illegal to do that with 20,000,000 books, then why is it legal to do it with the Internet? The �authors�� claims, if true, mean Google itself is illegal. Common sense, or better, commons sense, revolts at the idea. And so too should you.
This is a point I always make: the fact that Google caches sites is illegal (at least accepting the restricting copyright rules that are currently valid). Google by caching is doing a copy of my site and it has no right to do the copy (no copyright). Then, is Google cache a valuable service? Absolutely, I used it very often. Is it fair use? I think so, other may think differently. Google does not get sued about copying sites because is so big now. Google Print is not yet so big and Author Guild is trying this preemptive attack.
Well, Lessig says it better, so read Lessig post or even better read Lessig’s book “Free culture” or even better listen Lessig’s book “Free culture”.

The path to Identity (… 2.0 as everything these days)

I just saw the presentation by Dick Hardt at OSCON2005 about Identity2.0. The style of the presentation is great, it is almost a cartoon, check it. And it is a great for getting to know in a quick way many of the current efforts in providing an identity system that can really work on the Internet (decentralized, open, …). I’m currently lurking the OpenID mailinglist and I discovered Passel that seems interesting. The presentation is available in WMV, QuickTime and as Flash, so you should have no problems. The last slide says that the presentation style was borrowed by Lawrence Lessig.
As the online world moves towards Web 2.0, the concept of digital identity is evolving, and existing identity systems are falling behind. New systems are emerging that place identity in the hands of users instead of directories. Simple, secure and open, these systems will provide the scalable, user-centric mechanism for authenticating and managing real-world identities online, enabling truly distinct and portable Internet identities.

Comments to “A cognitive analysis of tagging” by Rashmi Sinha

I wrote this comment to the great post A cognitive analysis of tagging (or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular) but it does not appear in the comments so I post it here.

Wow, I overenjoyed your short-enough essay. Extremely clear!
Might I suggest you 3 additional topics you might want to consider and include in your struggle for understanding? I would do it myself but I’ll never be able to write as clearly as you ;-)

1) Visit
The graph shows the evolution in time of the tags used to tag a specific URL (in this case You may notice that in the beginning people were using more “blogs” and now people use more “blog”. This suggests people are moving from a category-like way of using (I put boingboing in the “blogs” folder that contains all the blogs) to a tag-like way of using (I name boingboing as a prototype of the class “blog”).
Someone was making this point (surely more clearly) on some blog but I could not find it again. Anyway this is true also for other blogs and this is real, thriving evidence.

2) At there is another “cognitive” approach to the tagweb (or tagspace or tagsphere).
I wrote about it at
Jakob argues “a neuron in your brain is a lot like a tag in a tagweb”. A tagweb is a network of tags whose edges are the “this tag is tagged with this tag” relationship, for example he tags the tag “Victoria” with the tag “female”.
Will it be possible/useful to let users tag the tags themselves?

3) Of course it would be better to have people tagging stuff in a way that makes sense to them but, as soon as tags are public (everyone can see them), there is concern about tag spam (I tag something with a certain tag so that other people will be exposed to it). This is not a problem when tags are private, for example for the tag you use in your gmail account: no big deal in spamming yourself, no?
I wrote about it at (from where you can find interesting links). Or check the image at
In order to make better tag systems (I think this is one of your goals), we must take into account this issue as well. Of course one simple solution would be to give you the possibility to see only resources tagged by friends (flickr and Y!MyWeb2.0 let you do this) or friends of friends, i.e. users deemed trustworthy by a simple and customizable trust metric. What do you think?

Numbers visualization

Numbers are really fascinating, so here there are 2 cool number hacks I found time ago.
1) Number spirals are very simple. To make one, we just write the non-negative integers on a ribbon and roll it up with zero at the center. The trick is to arrange the spiral so all the perfect squares (1, 4, 9, 16, etc.) line up in a row on the right side: and then interesting patterns start to emerge.
2) The secret lives of numbers (applet): determine the relative popularity of every integer between 0 and one million. The resulting information exhibits an extraordinary variety of patterns which reflect and refract our culture, our minds, and our bodies.
For example, certain numbers, such as 212, 486, 911, 1040, 1492, 1776, 68040, or 90210, occur more frequently than their neighbors because they are used to denominate the phone numbers, tax forms, computer chips, famous dates, or television programs that figure prominently in our culture. Regular periodicities in the data, located at multiples and powers of ten, mirror our cognitive preference for round numbers in our biologically-driven base-10 numbering system. Certain numbers, such as 12345 or 8888, appear to be more popular simply because they are easier to remember.