Half Million OnStar Customer May Go Dark in February thanks to FCC

OnStar may see a half million customers lose service in February of 2008.  At that time, analog cellular providers will be able to start switching off analog service on their networks.  Analog cellular service can provide superior quality, but requires more power and under the original network configurations did not allow as many users to place calls at the same time.

he FCC voted in 2002 to allow cell phone carriers to begin allowing their analog networks to go offline beginning February 18, 2008.  As this date is fast approaching, as many as 500,000 OnStar users will no longer have access to emergency services.  It is believed as many as one million cell phone users will be shut out, as will about 400,000 wireless home security systems.  Many people are also completely unaware this shutdown is coming.
Analog cell phone network going off-air Feb 18, 2008

The FCC and cellular network owners tried to make people believe that call quality under digital networks would be superior but that was just propaganda inspired by wireless lobbyists hoping to get more users talking on digital networks.  At the time it also enabled manufacturers that sold network hardware to push the replacement of analog towers with digital towers generating billions of dollars of revenue.

It also resulted in a number of kick back scandals by the major wireless hardware providers, their customers and government agencies around the world.  Anyone that really believes that digital provides better quality might be interested in Tennessee land for sale at wooden nickel prices.

Corporations Invited to Collect Biometric Information on Employees for the FBI

Corporations have been turning to law enforcement for background check information for many years.  Now, it appears that law enforcement might start looking for a little reciprocation from corporations.

The FBI is seeking $1 billion to build a biometric database that references and more importantly cross references multiple biometric data points that include:

  • Digital images of faces
  • fingerprints
  • palm patterns
  • iris patterns
  • face-shape data
  • scars
  • walking patterns
  • speech patterns and characteristics

The reason for this is to develop the ability of giving more complete information to law enforcement agents during more routine situations.

If all goes as planned, a police officer making a traffic stop or a border agent at an airport could run a 10-fingerprint check on a suspect and within seconds know if the person is on a database of the most wanted criminals and terrorists.

FBI Plans $1 Billion Biometric Database; Provides Corporate Access : Reclaim Liberty

The trick will be for the FBI to turn the Corporate requests into a street of two way information.  As it is corporations will receive notifications about criminal activity involving their employees (not sure if that is before or after they are proven guilty).  I can just picture people standing around the flat panel plasma mount tv watching employees names scroll through the FBI's recent activity blotter reports.

Laws Against Mobile Texting Not Getting Message Across

The United Kingdom may have been one of the first areas to impose laws banning the use of mobile messaging while driving several years ago.  This may not be surprising if you consider that the UK, possibly only second behind South Korea, had a very high adoption of acceptance of the practice of mobile text messaging.

That acceptance led to accidents while driving and laws to prohibit messaging while driving (Possible jail time for mobile-wielding drivers ) But that did not stop a lot of people from texting while driving.  So now lawmakers have to figure out how to put some bite back in the law.

Many are pointing towards higher levels of enforcement but the reality is that its difficult to enforce because it is difficult to catch people

Picture Matt Damon texting a message to Jack Nicholson in 'The Departed' while Damon holds a phone in his pocket and doesn't look.

How can Police catch someone doing something that they can not themselves witness?

Its not like they are looking at a Cat 5 hurricane blow in across the ocean.  This is an out of site, out of mind problem, until someone wrecks a car.  By the time that happens, it is too late and other charges will be more serious typically.

Telecom Industry Wins a Round on Eavesdropping

A strange battle is still advancing in Washington DC.  The Senate is working to advance dueling bills.  One would hold the Telecom industry accountable for handing over information to the Executive branch of government that enabled internal spying on Americans.  The other bill would prevent individuals and groups from filing lawsuits against the individual companies that engaged in this practice.

The bill to forgive the industry passed forward to be considered during a vote in the Senate today.

By 76 to 10, with Democrats divided, the Senate voted to advance the bill for consideration. 

Telecom Industry Wins a Round on Eavesdropping - New York Times

Plus, there is even an amendment to that recently forwarded bill that would remove the telecom industry from the lawsuits and replace the defendant with the United States Government itself.

This particular battle has Congress fighting the President and the Senate fighting the House and the Courts biding their time and dealing with the court cases as they come up.  Politicians are spinning around as if they were all caught on an automated elliptical machine perpetually doing ellipticals with no way to get off the machine.

Maybe that is the point.  They will keep the noise high and pretend that they are doing nothing while they really just spin their wheels.

For Whom the Monopoly Bells Knol - Google's December Attack

Google has been attacking different industries all month long as they attempt to expand their monopoly both horizontally and vertically.  They have been preparing to kick of the GPhone, By wireless spectrum, Attack bloggers and website owners for working with alternative advertising platforms and this month they are taking on one of the internet golden children, Wikipedia.

Google's new Wikipedia clone is to be called Knol and it will pay users to put their name to their entries and share in the advertising revenue.  There is already a means of achieving a similar result in both Blogger and Google Pages, but this will open up pages to be shared and edited by the world, taking it one step further.  It will also give Google a supremely unfair advantage over its competitors.  What's next for Google?  Absolute Vodka, Heroin, Cigarettes, and investments on the flip side in alcohol rehabs?

Inspiration ~ Google's Know-It-All Project

Ask.com Takes High Road with User's Information but Leaves Low Road Option Open

privacy Ask.com appeared to take the high road today when they announced that they would enable users to delete search information from their Ask.com profiles.

Well that would be great for internet search customers that want to go in and delete information that shows their IP address, location and search phrases such as Lange Sohne a popular holiday watch.  It would be great if it were deleted from all servers, but they are not.

Ask.com is deleting this information from its own servers.  However, it is not requiring its partners to delete it from their servers.  Ask.com may not have the info on your searches after you delete it but their third party partners will be taking that information to the bank or to the Government.

That's right Ask.com will also still supply the information to the Government, if Uncle Sam shows up with a legal request for information. 

The iPhone Runs into the Google Monopoly

iphone-webbrowser Google has been hard at work exercising its monopoly powers this fall.  They kick things off with the double-click deal which rapidly gain the attention of European Union antitrust advocates.  Then in October and November they started attacking several hundred thousand websites, banning and blacklisting those websites for idealistic reasons that also happened to wipe out some of their competitors.

Now I phone users are just starting to learn what many other smart phone users learned a few months back, Google sucks on mobile phones and Google News on mobile phones is even worse.

The funny thing is that Google used to be great on mobile devices.  However they reconfigured the way their webpages render on mobile devices and other services there are just about useless.  Even more strange, the iPhone used to render as a normal webpage with a view to will news and other Google pages.  Just as Google was starting to unleash rumors about the Google phone and purchasing wireless spectrum, the rendering of Google webpages on I phones suddenly became crap, and that starts to hint at Google's possible work to block the iPhone and pave the way for its own Gphone.

It is a small thing, and it can easily be explained away in the nebulous world of web design, mobile web design, web real estate and Google's large bureaucracy, but that doesn't make it legal.

Any bets on what Google might accidentally nuke off  the iPhone next?

  • Google Maps?
  • YouTube?
  • Gmail?

Inspiration ~ Google Ruins Its iPhone Home Page & my own experiences

Oregon's AG - Invading Student Computers May be Worse than Students Sharing Files

The RIAA has long been making a name for itself as it fights against file sharing.  They make no bones about playing bad cop, even filing law suits against dogs, dead people and grannies that don't surf the internet.  They utilize strong arm financial tactics to get people to settle suits, pay large fines and make headlines that scare other people from sharing files.

Is the RIAA Illegally Gaining Access to Student Computers too?

That's just one of the questions that the Attorney General of Oregon is hoping to determine.  The state of Oregon is fighting the RIAA's efforts to gain information from students at state schools.  The state is trying to gain information about just what tactics the RIAA has sunk to in order to build their cases.

Subpoenas have been filed against the RIAA and we might just see an RIAA scandal that shows the RIAA using unlicensed investigators to break, hack or acquire information from computer users without their permission.

Unlike the artists that the RIAA is supposedly protecting, if it turns out that the RIAA has engaged in some of these tactics, they are not going to be able to avoid serious legal repercussions by checking into a drug rehab for the weekend.  Some of the investigators could be looking at jail time and attorneys might be facing a disbarment in Oregon.

Tipping Point of AG Iceberg during Election Year

This could also be the tip of the iceberg that leads other Attorney Generals across the country to stand up in an election year and make a name for themselves working against a very unpopular foe.


Top 10 Tech Web Tips

Apps and Games

Recent Electronics and Gadget Videos