Tech at Night: Google, FCC, Civil Defense spectrum

On April 14, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

That’s one of the most boring and least unique Tech at Night titles ever, but I’m going to war with the links I have.

Slade Gorton’s priorities are horribly wrong. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. On Tuesday the Greg Walden subcommittee held hearings on “Use of Spectrum with Public Safety.” I’ve already explained why I think the D Block of wireless spectrum needs to be allocated directly to public safety, but Gorton’s argument for putting the D block up to auction is ridiculous. So says Energy and Commerce’s press release:

Gorton testified that auctioning “the D Block to the private sector will reduce the deficit, empower huge investments in new technology and job creation, and will meet the very real needs of our vital public safety sector.”

We already tried auctioning the D block. It did none of the above. And why should we try to reduce the deficit with a one-time payment from the pockets of first responders? That seems all wrong to me.

I know civil defense has a mixed record historically, when it was promoted by some as an alternative to tough-minded deterrence of nuclear war. But the threat of retaliation doesn’t work against jihadis. We need to be prepared to react to attacks better than we did on 9/11.

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Tech at Night: Google, Apple, RIM, Al Franken

On July 27, 2010, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Good evening. Sure, it’s technically morning, but when I went to post tonight I realized I had nothing queued up to write about, so I had to make a crash run through my news feeds before I could get started.

But get started we shall tonight with Apple and the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress is apparently entrusted with setting rules for what forms of reverse engineering are allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a landmark bill which included (over)broad restrictions on software. In short, the DMCA pretty much bans reverse engineering or circumvention of software or hardware that enforces copyright. Exceptions are given though, and the Library of Congress has announced some more exceptions.

One of them is a doozy: Both major forms of Apple iPhone “jailbreaking” are now expressly legal in this country. It is allowed to circumvent Apple’s restrictions to install legitimate software otherwise inaccessible through the App Store. It is also allowed to buy a used iPhone and circumvent the AT&T carrier restriction in it.

In practice this might not mean much, as jailbreaking activity was already strong due to clear legality in other countries from the start. That fact forced Apple to fight jailbreaking technologically, rather than legally. But now the full might of American engineering may be brought to bear on iPhone jailbreaking, and Apple might have a tougher time going forward.

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Nima Jooyandeh facts.