Skip to main content

Full text of "Atari Online News Etc. Volume 14 Issue 17"

See other formats




Volume 14, Issue 17 Atari Online News, Etc. May 4, 2012 


Published and Copyright (c) 1999 - 2012 
All Rights Reserved 





Atari Online News, Etc. 
A-ONE Online Magazine 
Dana P. Jacobson, Publisher/Managing Editor 
Joseph Mirando, Managing Editor 
Rob Mahlert, Associate Editor 

















Atari Online News, Etc. Staff 





Dana P. Jacobson -- Editor 
Joe Mirando -- "People Are Talking" 
Michael Burkley -- "Unabashed Atariophile" 
Albert Dayes -- "CC: Classic Chips" 
Rob Mahlert -- Web site 
Thomas J. Andrews -- "Keeper of the Flame" 


With Contributions by: 


Fred Horvat 


To subscribe to A-ONE, change e-mail addresses, or unsubscribe, 
log on to our website at: www.atarinews.org 
and click on "Subscriptions". 
OR subscribe to A-ONE by sending a message to: dpj@atarinews.org 
and your address will be added to the distribution list. 

To unsubscribe from A-ONE, send the following: Unsubscribe A-ON 
Please make sure that you include the same address that you used to 
subscribe from. 





GI 











To download A-ONE, set your browser bookmarks to one of the 
following sites: 





http://people.delphiforums.com/dpj/a-one.htm 
Now available: 
http://www.atarinews.org 


Visit the Atari Advantage Forum on Delphi! 
http://forums.delphiforums.com/atari/ 


A-ONE #1417 05/04/12 





~ US House Passes CISPA! ~ People Are Talking! ~ UK: Block Pirate Bay! 
~ Google Raises Bounty! ~ $99 Xbox With Data Plan ~ Anonymous Indicted! 
~ No Copyright for APIs! ~ Chrome 18 Most Popular! ~ Quality Over Speed! 


~ Hoarder Buries Himself ~ CISPA Opposition Grows! ~ Xbox & Win 7 Ban! 


-* Why CISPA Is Worse Than SOPA *- 
* Website Address Revolution on Hold! *- 
-* Amazon, Texas Reach Deal in Sales Tax Spat *- 








->From the Editor’s Keyboard "Saying it like it is!" 


TOUT Tr re Oe ee ee ee ee 


I’m still waiting for a few good things to happen these days! It seems 
like tragedy and bad luck has a vice-like grip on me, with no chance to 
get loose. The list of misfortune has continued to grow. Last week, it 
was the lack of time due to the continuing "saga" of red tape regarding 
my father’s estate, and my wife’s mother’s affairs after the fire. And 
then, we took our ailing oldest dog to the vet to get an update on her 
condition because she was getting worse. 





So, the legal affairs continue to worsen as far as family members’ lack 

of cooperation and communication - in both families. And, earlier this 
week, our dog got even worse; and we could tell that she wasn’t going to 
have much quality of life left. So, seeing her struggle early in the week, 
we decided that it was time. It was rough for my wife and I to watch her 
pass away, but we were there for her right to the end. What more could we 
have done? So, the house is a little empty at the moment without her 
presence, but she will always be with us in many other ways. 16 years 

she was with us - a lot of great memories will stay with us. 














So, I’m still not mentally all there at the present, so my thoughts for 
other things aren't in focus right now. I’m sure you'll give me a little 
leeway for a bit until things somehow get back into focus. 


Until next time... 


->In This Week's Gaming Section - Hoarder Buried Himself in Atari Games! 
TOU TT Wr Oe Oe Oe Oe ee oe Oe oe ee ve ee oe ee ee ee ee eo $99 Xbox with Subscription! 





—>A-ONE’s Game Console Industry News - The Latest Gaming News! 


TOUT Tre Wr Oe We Oe Oe ee ee oe ee ee ee 


Hoarder Buried Himself in Atari Games and Bobble Heads 


Lee Shuer’s hoarding began a decade ago as he began collecting Atari video 
games then progressed to vintage art work and musical instruments. 


But soon, his apartment was overflowing with bobble heads, collectibles 
and anything he could get "free or a good deal." 


"It got to the point where more is better," said Shuer, now 37, of 
Easthampton, Mass. "Eventually, they spilled off the shelves, onto the 
floor, down the hall, into the bedroom, off the bed - you could see the 
tide flow." 








Shuer’s acquisitions became part of his identity and self-esteem. 


"If I had more fun and more toys, people might actually like me," he said. 
"If I had enough things to play with, they might come hang out." 


When he finally met his future wife and they had to clean out the clutter 
to move in to a new home, she was horrified by the volume of things and 
begged him to call for help. 





Shuer did, and this week he is one of the key presenters at the 14th 
Annual Hoarding and Cluttering Conference, sponsored by the San Francisco 
Mental Health Association. There, both clinicians and hoarders will 
attend an array of workshops on best practices and new treatments. 





"I give my wife a lot of credit," he told ABCNews.com. "If it wasn’t for 
her, I wouldn’t be talking to you now." 





After participating in a study at Smith College in 2005 with pioneering 
hoarding expert Randy O. Frost, Shuer joined a hoarding task force and 
began to help others. 


"Hoarding has been around a long time, all the way back to the 14th 
century," said Frost, psychology professor and co-author of the 2011 book, 
"Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things." 





In one of the most famous cases in the 1940s, the Collyer brothers were 
found dead in their New York City apartment under 100 tons of trash, 
including human pickled organs, the chassis of an old Model T, 14 pianos, 
hundreds of yards of unused silks and fabric, the folding top of a 
horse-drawn carriage, and more than 25,000 books. 








Frost identified the thr features of hoarding: excessive acquisition, 
difficulty discarding and disorganization. He developed the "Buried in 
Treasures" self-help program that gave Shuer his life back. 


Compulsive hoarding is strongly associated with obsessive compulsive 
disorder (OCD), a condition that affects about 4 million Americans, 
according to the OCD Foundation. About 25 to 40 percent of those with OCD 
have hoarding symptoms. 


Psychiatrists are now hopeful that hoarding will get its own category in 
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V this year, 
distinguishing it from obsessive-compulsive disorder. 





Hoarding can lead to serious health or safety dangers and threaten 
relationships with family and friends. 





The disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences significant distress 
and/or impairment as a result of their hoarding. 


Homes on television shows like TLC’s "Hoarding: Buried Alive" can have 
infestations of rodents or insects. Hoarders are unable to entertain 
guests, prepare food or find their possessions. 


"It’s difficult to actually get an estimate of how many people are 
hoarders," said Julie L. Pike, who has appeared on the show and is a 
psychologist at the Anxiety Disorder Treatment Center in North Carolina. 


"There is so much shame and so much hiding around it," she said. 


Often hoarders do not seek help until it is too late - when they have lost 
their children, their home or a spouse. 


In one of the most serious cases of hoarding on the reality show, Pike 
helped a woman whose home was infested with a nest of black widow spiders 
and cockroaches. Uncapped insulin needles and dirty incontinence pads 

were strewn everywher 











"The exterminator said it was the worst infestation he’d seen in 23 
years," said Pike. 


$99 Xbox with Subscription Another Great Microsoft Idea 


The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is getting ready to start selling a 
$99 Xbox 360 as long as owners commit to a two-year data plan. 


ZDNet reports that the monthly subscription to Xbox Live, which is the 
online network for the Xbox, would ring in at $15 per month. The report 
mentions that users would get access to the current level of Xbox Live 
Gold membership benefits and also a few other features for entertainment 
and sports. As long as the subscription comes with enough value added 
channels and apps to offset the $15 per month fee, like a free Hulu or 
Netflix subscription, the deal would be well worth it. It’s a great move 
for Microsoft. 














Ars Technica reports, the Xbox would move to more of an entertainment hub 
than a game machine, which it already is in many homes. The big deal with 
a $99 Xbox is how Microsoft would subsidizing the unit with online 
subscriptions, and like ZDNet points out, gets handled exactly like a 
mobile phone right down to the early termination fee. The move would 
represent a major shift in the video game industry. 





The video game world could be starting to skew into total home 
entertainment, which only makes sense given the popularity of streaming. 
Of course, Netflix is already available on the Xbox 360, and so is the new 
streaming partnership courtesy of Vudu and UltraViolet. As buyers look for 
a low purchase price, a relatively cheap Xbox combined with a Kinect 
sensor is a great deal, and it looks even better when quality monthly 
content is factored in. 











A-ONE’s Headline News 
The Latest in Computer Technology News 
Compiled by: Dana P. Jacobson 





U.S. House Passes CISPA 


The United States House of Representatives has voted to pass the 
controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), talk 
of which has swept the Internet over the past few weeks. The House vote 
was moved up to Thursday night, and CISPA passed as 248 members of 
Congress voted for the bill and 168 voted against. The bill is sponsored 
by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger 
(D-Maryland), and it now faces further modifications in the Senate if it 
is to avoid being vetoed by the White House. President Barack Obama has 
indicated that he intends to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk, 
noting that as it is written now, the legislation would allow "broad 
sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing 
requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect 
personally identifiable information." The American Civil Liberties Union 
issued a statement following the vote. "Cybersecurity does not have to 
mean abdication of Americans online privacy," said ACLU legislative 
counsel Michelle Richardson. "As weve seen repeatedly, once the 
government gets expansive national security authorities, theres no 

going back. We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into 
obscurity." 




















Why CISPA Is Worse Than SOPA 


Following the SOPA/PIPA uproar that splashed across the Internet earlier 
this year, we now have another cyber-security bill that threatens American 
Web browsing privacy, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, 
otherwise known as CISPA. 

The House of Representatives passed the bill Thursday evening, moving the 
legislation closer to law. The bill is stalled in the Senate and President 
Obama has said he would veto the law if it made it to his desk. Even so, 
activists and observers on the Internet saw how far SOPA got and backers 
expect it to pass, says ProPublica. Protestors also saw how far education, 
blogging and general Internet awareness campaigns got them in the fight 
against it. Many see CISPA as just as bad, if not worse than the previous 
cyber security bills, and they’re pushing back on it. 




















Before doing any protesting, the techies first clarified what makes CISPA 
the new SOPA. It’s actually not exactly the new SOPA, as ProPublica’s very 
complete explainer, points out. "SOPA was about intellectual property; 
CISPA is about cyber security, but opponents believe both bills have the 
potential to trample constitutional rights," writes ProPublica’s Megha 
Rajagopalan. But, both have to do with the way you use the Internet and 








both threaten user privacy. This bill has nothing to do with copyright 
and online intellectual property. It would do more than just shutdown 
your favorite overseas pirates. But like SOPA, in the name of some 
loftier goal - in SOPA’s case copyright, in CISPA’s case cyber-security - 
CISPA gives the government your Internet. With SOPA, this meant censoring 
the Internet. CISPA, however, gives companies many Americans use, like 
Facebook and Twitter the ability to hand over your information to any 
government agency. 








And here’s where many decided CISPA was worse than SOPA. Both the Center 
for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation agree 
CISPA’s language is far too broad. As Gizmodo points out in its useful 
explainer, the law’s vague language gives the government a lot of leeway 
here. Per Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle: 





CISPA says companies need to give up your information only in the face 
of a "cyber threat." So, what is a "cyber threat"? Nobody really knows! 
The bill defines it as "efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy government 
or private systems and networks." In other words, trying to do bad stuff 
on the internet, or even just talking about it. Ideally, this would be 
narrowed to specific malicious LulzSec stuff like DDoS attacks, but it’s 
not. It can be almost anything! 


Over at TechDirt you can read the broad reasons the government says it 
needs information seizure, some of which got added to the bill last 
minute. "The government would be able to search information it collects 
under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with 
complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim 
someone committed a /’/cybersecurity crime’," writes TechDirt’s Leigh 
Beadon. "Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at 
all." And the government has structured the bill so it won’t have much 
oversight, explains the Sunlight Foundation’s John Wonderlich. He points 
to this section of the bill, which exempts CISPA from the Freedom of 
Information Act. "The FOIA is, in many ways, the fundamental safeguard 
for public oversight of government’s activities," he writes. "CISPA 
dismisses it entirely, for the core activities of the newly proposed 
powers under the bill." 








The other part that’s scarier than SOPA is that it might actually pass. 
Many have pointed out that a divided house passed the bill 248-168, 

showing this is something both parties agree on. And while the House is 
united, the Internet this time around is not, with big Web juggarnauts that 
opposed SOPA, supporting CISPA. Facebook, for example, levied its support 
in a company blog post. "Importantly, HR 3523 would impose no new 
obligations on us to share data with anyone - and ensures that if we do 
share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to 
safeguard our users private information, just as we do today," wrote 
Facebooks vice president of public policy, Joel Kaplan. ProPublica has put 
together a chart comparing the points of view of key players, showing how 
they come out on SOPA versus CISPA. Wikimedia, which led the controversial 
Wikipedia blackout, for example, is currently undecided on the topic. The 
divide, as Rajagopalan explains, is happening this time around because 

this bill would help these companies deal with real threats better. And 
there’s a whole slew of other big name non-Internet companies, like 

Boeing and Verizon, supporting the legislation, too. (Here’s the full list 
of their letters of support.) 











But many critics don’t even think the bill would make us safer. "Some cyber 
security specialists note that neither CISPA nor other cyber security bills 
in Congress would compel companies to update software, hire outside 








specialists or take other measures to preemptively secure themselves 
against hackers and other threats," writes. And even if it has minimal 
net-benefits, it’s definitely not worth all the privacy we would give up, 
which is the ACLU’s position. That group came out with the following 
statement. "CISPA goes too far for little reason. Cybersecurity does not 
have to mean abdication of Americans online privacy. As weve seen 
repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security 
authorities, theres no going back. We encourage the Senate to let this 
horrible bill fade into obscurity," said ACLU legislative counsel Michelle 
Richardson after the house vote. 














Even if the bill passes the Senate, where there is no corresponding bill at 
the moment, Obama has already issued a veto threat, as ArsTechnica points 
out. But the paranoid note that Obama’s veto rhetoric hasn’t been all that 
reliable. "Dear Obama: Your rhetoric on NDAA, Gitmo & Wall Street proved 
empty & false. We’1ll believe a #CISPA veto when we see it. Love, the 
Internet," tweeted an Anonymous Twitter handle, @YourAnonNews. 











Opposition Grows to CISPA ’Big Brother’ Cybersecurity Bill 


Last-minute opposition to the CISPA, which has been criticized as a "Big 
Brother" cybersecurity bill, is growing as the U.S. House of 
Representatives prepares for a vote this week. 


Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate, warned in 
a statement and YouTube video today that CISPA (PDF) represents the 
"latest assault on Internet freedom." Paul warned that "CISPA is Big 
Brother writ large," and said that he hopes that "the public responds to 
CISPA as it did to SOPA back in January." 








In addition, 18 Democratic House members signed a letter (PDF) this 
afternoon warning that CISPA "does not include necessary safeguards" and 
that critics have raised "real and serious privacy concerns." The number 


of people signing an anti-CISPA petition is now at more than 718,000, up 
about 100,000 from a week ago. 





Excerpts from the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act: 


"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, 
for cybersecurity purposes —- (i) use cybersecurity systems to identify 
and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property of 
such self-protected entity; and (ii) share such cyber threat information 
with any other entity, including the Federal Government... 





The term ’self-protected entity’ means an entity, other than an 
individual, that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to 
itself." 





CISPA would permit, but not require, Internet companies to hand over 
confidential customer records and communications to the U.S. National 
Security Agency and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies. 


It’s hardly clear, however, that this wave of opposition will be 
sufficient. 





CISPA - also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act - 
has 113 congressional sponsors. Instead of dropping off as criticism 


mounted, which is what happened with the SOPA protests in January, more 
continue to sign up, with six new sponsors adding themselves in the last 
week. 














Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, 
said today that he remains confident that the CISPA will be approved this 
week. 


"Chairman Rogers continues to have an open door and continues to work to 
address privacy concerns as the bill moves toward the floor," a House 
Intelligence Committee spokesman told CNET this afternoon. 











Foes of CISPA are hoping to submit amendments that, they believe, would 
defang the most objectionable portions. 


The House GOP leadership has scheduled a vote on CISPA for this Friday. 
Proposed amendments to CISPA are required to be submitted to the House 


Rules committee by 1:30 p.m. PT tomorrow. 


Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat whose district encompasses the 


heart of Silicon Valley, said today: "I cannot support it in its current 
form. I made suggestions to improve the bill to safeguard the privacy and 
due process rights of all Americans." (Lofgren posted (PDF) a longer list 


of concerns on her Web site.) 





What sparked the privacy worries - including opposition from the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation, the American Library Association, the ACLU, and the 
Republican Liberty Caucus - is the section of CISPA that says 
"notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share 
information "with any other entity, including the federal government." 


By including the word "notwithstanding," CISPA’s drafters intended to make 
their legislation trump all existing federal and state civil and criminal 
laws. It would render irrelevant wiretap laws, Web companies’ privacy 
policies, educational record laws, medical privacy laws, and more. (It’s 
so broad that the non-partisan Congressional Research Service once warned 
(PDF) that using the term in legislation may "have unforeseen consequences 
for both existing and future laws.") 

















A position paper on CISPA from Rogers and Ruppersberger says their bill is 
necessary to deal with threats from China and Russia and that it "protects 
privacy by prohibiting the government from requiring private sector 
entities to provide information." In addition, they stress that "no new 
authorities are granted to the Department of Defense or the intelligence 
community to direct private or public sector cybersecurity efforts." 








During a town hall meeting that CNET hosted last week in San Francisco, 
Jamil Jaffer, senior counsel to the House Intelligence Committee, said the 
protests ignored the fact that the bill was approved by a bipartisan 
committee majority back in December. 





"There’s no secret agenda here. It’s only 19 pages," Jaffer said. "You 
don’t need to be a lawyer to read this bill." 


Mozilla First Silicon Valley Heavyweight To Oppose CISPA 


Thousands of people oppose the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing 


and Protection Act (CISPA), including the Obama Administration and 
Anonymous. The bill, which was recently passed by the United States 
House of Representatives, looks to give businesses and the federal 
government legal protection to share cyber threats with one another in an 
effort to prevent online attacks. Internet privacy and neutrality 
advocates feel as if the bill does not contain enough limits on how and 
when private information can be monitored. Numerous technology companies 
such as Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Intel and Oracle have voiced 
their support for the bill. Mozilla on Tuesday, however, took a stand and 
announced its opposition against CISPA. 





While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad 
and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security, the companys 
privacy and public policy lead said to Forbes. The bill infringes on our 
privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants 
immunities to companies and government that are too broad around 
information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly 
consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with 
this legislation. 














Mozillas Mountain View neighbor, Google, has yet to make its stance 
known, and is one of the last tech firms to do so. We think this is an 
important issue and were watching the process closely but we havent 

taken a formal position on any specific legislation, a company 
spokesperson said. The Internet giant has previously spoken out about the 
Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act 
(PIPA), even going as far as censoring its homepage and urging visitors 
to oppose the bill. 








Amazon, Texas Reach Deal To Settle Sales Tax Spat 


Online retailer Amazon.com reached an agreement with Texas officials 
Friday to settle a sales tax dispute by expanding operations in the state 
and starting to collect sales taxes. 





The deal comes less than a year after Amazon shut down a distribution 
center in Irving to protest a $269 million tax bill sent by Texas 
Comptroller Susan Combs in 2010. 





Combs and Amazon said in a joint statement that the settlement calls for 
the company to bring at least 2,500 jobs and $200 million in capital 
investments. The company will begin collecting and paying sales tax 
July 1. Last year Gov. Rick Perry denounced Comb’s decision to collect 
the taxes, saying it would cost Texas jobs and discourage companies from 
moving to Texas. 

















The announcement came the day after Amazon posted first-quarter profits 
that blew away analysts’ estimates and boosted the company’s stock. 

The move is a dramatic reversal for Amazon, which has fought hard across 
the country against being forced to collect state sales taxes. Texas law 
requires companies with a physical presence in Texas to collect sales 
tax. After Combs concluded last year that the company owed $269 million 
in uncollected sales taxes, Amazon closed down the warehouse and argued 
it did not qualify under the law. The deal announced Friday settled that 
dispute. 














In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday, Amazon said it 
still believes it never owed Texas any taxes but had nevertheless 
reached a settlement. The national fight over whether online retailers 
should have to collect state and local sales tax just the same way local 
merchants must remains unresolved. 











Local shops argue online retailers have an unfair price advantage because 
they are not required to collect taxes on behalf of the state that in 
Texas can reach 8.5 percent of the sales price. Combs and Amazon’s Vice 
President of Global Public Policy Paul Misener both committed to working 
toward a national solution to solving that problem. 





"This is an important step in leveling the playing field in Texas," Combs 
said in a statement. "However, Congress should enact federal legislation 
that will give states access to revenues that are already due, which 
would resolve this issue fairly for all retailers and all states." 





Amazon has said in the past that the complexity of the state and local 
sales tax system makes it impossible for big online retailers to 
accurately collect sales tax and that it supports a national, 
standardized approach. 





"We appreciate Comptroller Combs working with us to advance federal 
legislation," Misener said. "We strongly support the creation of a 
simplified and equitable federal framework, because Congressional action 
will protect states’ rights, level the playing field for all sellers, and 
give states like Texas the ability to obtain all the sales tax revenue 
that is already due." 








The Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which has fought to force online 
retailers to collect state and local tax, also welcomed the agreement and 
called for Congress to enact a national solution. 





Sales Tax Deal with Texas is Amazon’s Latest 





Amazon.com agreed to begin collecting sales tax in Texas on Friday, 
forging a deal that promises to bring more jobs to the southern U.S. 
state and as the online marketer lost another round in a series of 
state-by-state sales tax battles. 





The agreement, to take effect on July 1 for Texas’ 6.25-percent sales 
tax, follows another accord reached with Nevada earlier in the week to 
begin collecting that state’s 8.1 percent sales tax on January 1, 2014. 





Amazon rings up an estimated 20 percent of all U.S. online retail sales, 
making it the country’s largest online retailer. 


Most online purchases are free of sales tax, which has given the company 
an edge over traditional, bricks-and-mortar retailers that do collect 
sales tax. 





As online sales have grown, and municipal budgets have tightened, states 
have been pushing hard to capture more e-tail sales tax revenue. 





Under federal law, retailers with physical facilities in a state can be 
forced by the state to collect sales tax on purchases made by a resident 
of that state. That includes e-tailers with distribution centers. 


E-tailers without physical facilities in a state need not collect the 
tax. 


As Amazon has grown, it has needed more distribution facilities, and in 
the past few years has parlayed the promise of new facilities in exchange 
for the best tax terms possible with states across the country. 





The importance of that advantage was clear when Amazon pulled up stakes in 
Texas last fall, shutting down its distribution hub at the Dallas-Fort 
Worth airport after Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs sent Amazon a 
$269 million bill covering sales taxes it did not collect from 2005 to 
2009. 











In exchange for Amazon’s promise to collect future taxes, create at least 
2,500 jobs and make at least $200 million in capital investments in the 
Lone Star state, Combs is dropping the demand for back taxes. 


Texas will bring to six the number of states where Amazon currently 
collects sales tax. 





According to its website, it already collects sales tax in five of the 50 
states - Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington - on 
purchases made by people who live in those states. Those are the five 

states where it has physical facilities or affiliated sellers and no 
agreement with state governments exempting Amazon from collecting sales tax. 





A comprehensive federal solution to the question of which companies must 
collect sales tax on online purchases has yet to reach a vote in Congress. 


In announcing the deal with Texas, Amazon’s Vice President of Global 
Public Policy, Paul Misener reiterated the company’s support for a 
national solution. 


On Thursday, Amazon reported net sales of $13.18 billion for the first 
quarter of 2012, up 34 percent from the same quarter last year, with net 
income of $130 million. 





Website Address ’Revolution’ on Hold 


The Internet domain name "revolution" was on hold Friday due to a flaw 
that let some aspiring applicants peek at unauthorized information at 
the registration website. 


It remained unclear when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and 
Numbers (ICANN) would resume taking applications from those interested in 
running new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) online. 


ICANN cancelled a Monday event at which details of who applied for which 
new domains were to be revealed after a system problem delayed the close 
of the application window. The original domain name application deadline 
of Thursday was extended to April 20. 














"We have learned of a possible glitch in the TLD application system 
software that has allowed a limited number of users to view some other 
users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios," ICANN chief 
operating officer Akram Atallah said in an online message posted on 
April 12. 














"Out of an abundance of caution, we took the system offline to protect 
applicant data... We are examining how this issue occurred and considering 
appropriate steps forward." 


In January, ICANN began taking applications from those interested in 
operating Internet domains that replace endings such as .com or .org with 
nearly any acceptable words, including company, organization or city 
names. 


Outgoing ICANN president Rod Beckstrom has championed the change as a 
"new domain name system revolution." 


The new system will allow Internet names such as .Apple or .IMF or .Paris. 


ICANN says the huge expansion of the Internet, with two billion users 
around the world, half of them in Asia, requires the new names. 


"When the application system reopens, users will be able to review their 
applications, including those already submitted, to assure themselves 
that their information remains as they intended," Atallah said Thursday 
in an update. 





"We expect that demands on the system will be high when it reopens, and 
we are enhancing system performance as part of our preparations for the 
reopening." 


More than 25 global bodies have expressed concern about the possible 
"misleading registration and use" of their names. 


They fear it could cause confusion about their Internet presence and force 
them to spend huge amounts on "defensive registration" to stop 
cybersquatters, who buy up names and try to sell them at an inflated 
price, and fraudsters. 


Registration costs $185,000 with a $25,000 annual fee after that. 





ICANN insists, however, that safeguards are in place to protect names of 
established companies and groups. 


Google Raises Bounty on Software Bugs 


Google on Monday raised to $20,000 its bounty on software bugs that 
hackers could exploit for cyber attacks on the Internet giant’s online 
services. 


The maximum reward for exposing a vulnerability that would let an 
intruder’s code get up to mischief in a Google datacenter was ramped up 
from the $3,133.70 payout set when the bounty program launched in 
November of 2010. 


"When we get more bug reports, we get more bug fixes," Google security 
team manager Adam Mein told AFP. "That is good for our users; that is 
good for us." 


Google has paid out approximately $460,000 since it established the 
Vulnerability Reward Program. 


Of the 11,000 software flaws reported to Google, more than 780 qualified 
for rewards ranging from $300 to the maximum, a figure selected because 
the digits translate into a technical term in a hacker programming 
language. 





The bounty was raised to inspire software savants to hunt for 
difficult-to-find, and potentially perilous, bugs hidden deep in programs, 
according to Mein. 


"We want them to know the reward is there for them if they find the most 
severe bugs," Mein said. 


Bugs found in more sensitive services such as Google smartphone "Wallet" 
software tends to merit more generous rewards. 


People vying for bounties have tended to be computer security 
professionals; engineering students honing their skills, and website 
operators, according to Google. 


UK Court Tells Service Providers: Block Pirate Bay 


Britain’s High Court has ordered the country’s Internet service providers 
to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, the U.K.’s main music 
industry association said Monday. 








A High Court judge told Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, 02 and 
Virgin Media on Friday to prevent access to the Swedish site, which helps 
millions of people download copyrighted music, movies and computer games. 


Music industry group BPI welcomed the order by justice Richard Arnold that 
the service providers block the site within the next few weeks. 





BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said sites like The Pirate Bay "destroy 
jobs in the U.K. and undermine investment in new British artists." 


The service providers said they would comply with the order. A sixth 
provider, BT, has been given several weeks to consider its position, but 
BPI said it expected BT would also block the website. 








Providers who refuse could find themselves in breach of a court order, 
which can carry a large fine or jail time. 








Monday’s announcement follows a February ruling by the same judge that the 
operators and users of The Pirate Bay have "a common design to infringe" 
the copyright of music companies. 


The Pirate Bay has been a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry 
for years. In 2010, a Swedish appeals court upheld the copyright 
infringement convictions of three men behind the site, but it remains in 
operation. 


The website, which has more than 20 million users around the world, does 
not host copyright-protected material itself, but provides a forum for 
its users to download content through so-called torrent files. The 
technology allows users to transfer parts of a large file from several 
different users, increasing download speeds. 


Defenders of such sites say old creative industry business models have 
been overtaken by technology that allows music, movies and games to be 
acquired at the touch of a finger on computers, tablets, phones and other 
devices. 


Both 02 and Virgin said banning orders against copyright-breaching sites 
had to be accompanied by other measures that reflected consumers’ 
behavior. 


O2 said in a statement that "music rights holders should continue to 
develop new online business models to give consumers the content they 
want, how they want it, for a fair price." 


Indictment Returned in NYC Computer Hacking Case 


The name of a Chicago man already charged in a computer hacking case aimed 
at taking out key players in the worldwide group Anonymous was added to an 
indictment Wednesday, boosting the accusations against him by including 
him in much of the wider conspiracy to hack into corporations and 
government agencies worldwide. 


Jeremy Hammond, 27, joined four other defendants named in the indictment 
in federal court in Manhattan in a prosecution revealed in March. Hammond, 
27, is being held at a lower Manhattan lockup after initially appearing in 
a Chicago court. 


Authorities said the prosecution marks the first time core members of the 
loosely organized worldwide hacking group Anonymous have been identified 
and charged in the U.S. 


Prosecutors said the defendants and others hacked into companies and 
government agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Senate. They say they 
also stole confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put 
some victims out of business. Authorities say their crimes affected more 
than 1 million people. 





A message left with Hammond’s lawyer for comment was not immediately 
returned. It was not clear when Hammond would appear at an arraignment to 
enter a plea to the indictment. 


Hammond is the only defendant in Manhattan, except for Hector Xavier 
Monsegur, a 28-year-old self-taught, unemployed computer programmer who 
was living on welfare in public housing in New York when he joined other 
elite hackers in various schemes. 


A legendary hacker known as Sabu, Monsegur pleaded guilty and cooperated 
for most of the last year with the FBI, which built the case against 
Hammond and four others, who were arrested in Scotland, England and 
Ireland. None of the others have come to the U.S. to face the charges. 
Extraditions were being sought. 





Hammond is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to commit computer 
hacking, computer hacking, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and 
aggravated identity theft. 





The indictment adds allegations that the conspiracy included a hack of 





the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a state law enforcement agency 
in Arizona. 


ICANN To Notify Domain Applicants of Data Breaches 


Organizations taking part in the most ambitious expansion of the Internet 
so far will find out next week whether their applications for new domain 
names could have been viewed by competitors as a result of a software bug. 





The U.S. non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers 
(ICANN), which operates the Internet’s naming system, has been inviting 
Organizations to apply to own and run their own domains, for example 
-apple, .nyc or .gay, instead of entrusting them to the operators of 
.com, .org and others. 


But the system hit a problem earlier this month, just as a three-month 
window for applications was about to close, when a software glitch was 
discovered that allowed some applicants to see user or file names of 
other applicants. 





Organizations had been careful not to reveal the domain names they were 
applying for, fearing the knowledge they were applying for a generic 
domain like .food would encourage rivals to compete for that domain and 
drive up the price. 


"We’re very apologetic for the inconvenience to any applicants," ICANN 
chief executive Rod Beckstrom told Reuters. 


"Clearly, we’re going to take every step that we can to make sure that no 
one takes advantage of any information they may have obtained," he said 
in a telephone interview, declining to detail exactly what steps could be 
taken. 





The domain-name expansion programme had been opposed by some influential 

trademark owners who feared they would have to spend large sums of money 

simply to protect their brands online, despite protections built into the 
system. 


Critics have also complained about conflicts of interest as some past and 
present ICANN board members stand to benefit financially from the 
programme. 


Peter Dengate Thrush, who was chairman of ICANN when it gave the go-ahead 
for the expansion, went on to become executive chairman of Top Level 
Domain Holdings, a London-listed firm set up to acquire and operate the 
new domains. 


Beckstrom said he was confident the glitch in the system had been caused 
by a software bug rather than an attack. 


"We have absolutely no reason to believe it’s a hack. We have been able to 
find some of the instructions in the software that caused the issue," he 
said. 


Beckstrom added that ICANN had captured every keystroke made by applicants 
since the window opened in January, and was currently combing through the 
more than 500 gigabytes of data to determine what may have been visible to 


whom. 


The organization plans to notify applicants by May 8 if details of their 
applications could have been viewed by others, but will not tell them who 
could have seen those details. Those who may have viewed such information 
will also be notified. 





ICANN, which says it has now fixed the bug and is extensively testing the 
system, plans to reopen the application window at a date yet to be 
determined for an extra five days. 


Beckstrom said 1,268 Organizations had registered for the application 
system to date, up from a previously reported figure of 839, and stressed 
that most applicants were not affected. 





"As CEO, I take full responsibility for this issue," said Beckstrom, who 
is due to step down on July 1. "I would like to resolve it before handing 
on the baton." 





Internet Group: Quality Over Speed in New Domains 


The organization in charge of expanding the number of Internet address 
suffixes - the ".com" part of domain names - is apologizing for delays 
but says it’s favoring "quality, not speed." 


Three weeks ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers 
abruptly shut down a system for letting companies and organizations 
propose new suffixes, after it discovered a software glitch that exposed 
some private data. At the time, ICANN planned to reopen the system within 
four business days. The system remains suspended indefinitely. 





"We've very focused on the quality of what we do," ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom 
said. "We take this very seriously. That’s why we’re moving very 
methodologically and professionally." 


In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Beckstrom added, "We 
apologize for the delay, but we’re committed to getting this right." 





ICANN has said it needed time to figure out why the software failed and 
how to fix it. That was completed last week, Beckstrom said, but ICANN 
still must undergo extensive testing on the fixes and inform companies 
and organizations whose data had been exposed. He declined to offer a 
timetable. 





Up to 1,000 domain name suffixes could be added each year in the most 
sweeping change to the domain name system since its creation in the 1980s. 


The idea is to let Las Vegas hotels, casinos and other attractions 


congregate around ".Vegas," or a company such as Canon Inc. draw 
customers to "cameras.Canon" or "printers.Canon." The new system will also 
make Chinese, Japanese and Swahili versions of ".com" possible. 


After several years of deliberations, ICANN began accepting applications 
in mid-January. The application window was to have closed on April 12 - 
the same day ICANN had to shut down the system, just hours before the 
deadline. 


The glitch did not affect general availability of the Internet’s domain 
name system -— the databases that let Internet-connected computers know 
where to send email and locate websites. It also did not affect the 
ability to register new names under existing suffixes. 





Rather, the glitch was with the software ICANN had set up to take 
applications for new suffixes. 





The proposals were supposed to be confidential until the application 
period closed. The software glitch allowed some applicants to view data 
about others, including potential competitors. The data were limited to 
file names and usernames, not the contents of the files. 





But those names in some cases offered clues about which companies were 
proposing what suffixes, Beckstrom said. Knowing that could allow an 
applicant to change a proposal and gain an advantage. 





ICANN believes that 105 applicants might have had data viewed by others, 
while 50 applicants might have seen information on others - inadvertently, 
ICANN believes. That’s out of 1,268 registered applicants, each of which 
can submit as many as 50 suffix proposals. 








Beckstrom said that once the system reopens, ICANN will monitor applicants 
to determine whether they make adjustments based on what they might have 
seen. Applicants will also have at least a week to make sure their data 
didn’t get lost or corrupted. 





The delay shouldn’t have a major effect on the availability of new 
suffixes, as the new names won’t appear in general use until at least next 
spring - in many cases, much later. 





The bigger damage could be in the long-term confidence in ICANN. Even 
before the glitch was discovered, opponents of the domain-name expansion 
questioned ICANN’s ability to roll out new suffixes smoothly. 





Beckstrom said all organizations encounter technical problems, and he said 
ICANN hopes to retain people’s confidence by resolving the problems and 
communicating well 











Chrome 18 Is Worlds Most Popular Browser 


Internet monitoring firm Pingdom on Monday released a new report on global 
Web browser share by browser version. The company found Microsofts 
Internet Explorer 9 to be the most popular browser in North America with a 
21.2% share, and it was closely followed by Google Chrome 18 at 20.2%. 
Internet Explorer, however, featured a combined total of 40.4% of the 
North American browser market. Globally, Pingdom found that Chrome 18 is 
the most popular browser with a 25.6% share, leading Firefox 11 with 15.8% 
and Internet Explorer 9 and 8 with 15.7% and 14.6%, respectively. 
Microsofts browser has the largest worldwide market share when all 
versions are combined, followed by Chrome and then Firefox. 

















Motorola Wins Xbox and Windows 7 Ban in Germany 


Motorola Mobility has been granted an injunction against the distribution 
of key Microsoft products in Germany. 


The sales ban covers the Xbox 360 games console, Windows 7 system 
software, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. 








It follows a ruling that Microsoft had infringed two patents necessary to 
offer H.264 video coding and playback. 


A US court has banned Motorola from enforcing the action until it 
considers the matter next week. 





The handset maker is in the process of being taken over by Google. 





This is just one of several cases involving about 50 intellectual 
properties that the smartphone maker has claimed that Microsoft should 
have licensed. 


Microsoft has said that if it met all of Motorola’s demands it would face 
an annual bill of S$4bn (£2.5bn). Motorola disputes the figure. 


A statement from Motorola said: "We are pleased that the Mannheim Court 
found that Microsoft products infringe Motorola Mobility’s intellectual 
property. As a path forward, we remain open to resolving this matter. 
Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual 
property." 




















Microsoft said it planned to appeal against the German ruling. 


"This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola 
will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential 
patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of 
consumers who enjoy video on the web," a spokesman said. 








"Motorola is prohibited from acting on today’s decision, and our business 
in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue 
the fundamental issue of Motorola’s broken promise." 








Microsoft moved its European software distribution centre from Germany to 
the Netherlands last month ahead of the verdict to minimise potential 
disruption. 


However, Motorola cannot enforce the ruling until a Seattle-based judge 
lifts a restraining order. 





[The restriction was put in place after Microsoft claimed that Motorola was 
abusing its Frand-commitments - a promise to licence innovations deemed 
critical to widely-used technologies under "fair, reasonable and 
non-discriminatory" terms. 


A hearing is scheduled for 7 May, although the judge may issue his ruling 
at a later date. 





The German case is also likely to be considered by the European 
Commission. 


It is carrying out two probes into whether Motorola’s Frand-type patent 
activities amount to "an abuse of a dominant market position". 





EU’s Top Court: APIs Can’t Be Copyrighted, Would "Monopolise Ideas" 





The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that application 
programming interfaces (APIs) and other functional characteristics of 
€ 

t 





omputer software are not eligible for copyright protection. Users have 

he right to examine computer software in order to clone its functionality 
and vendors cannot override these user rights with a license agreement, 
the court said. 


The case focuses on the popular statistical package SAS. A firm called 
World Programming created a clone designed to run SAS scripts without 
modification. In order to do this, they bought a copy of SAS and studied 
its manual and the operation of the software itself. They reportedly did 
not have access to the source code, nor did they de-compile the software's 
object code. 








SAS sued, arguing that its copyright covered the design of the SAS 
scripting language, and that World Programming had violated the SAS 
licensing agreement in the process of cloning the software. 











he EU’s highest court rejected these arguments. Computer code itself can 
be copyrighted, but functional characteristics - such as data formats and 
function names - cannot be. "To accept that the functionality of a 





computer program can be protected by copyright would amount to making it 
possible to monopolise ideas, to the detriment of technological progress 
and industrial development," the court stated. 


"The purchaser of a software licence has the right to observe, study, or 
test the functioning of that software in order to determine the ideas and 
principles which underlie any element of the program. Any contractual 
provisions contrary to that right are null and void," the court ruled. 





American courts have generally agreed with the European court’s position 
that functional characteristics of computer programs are not eligible for 
copyright protection. (But the idea is currently under debate in the 
high-profile legal battle between Google and Oracle. Oracle says Google 
violated its copyrights by cloning Java APIs for use in Android.) 





But American courts have been reluctant to overrule license agreements, 
which often remove rights that a user would otherwise possess. For 
example, in 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld 
EULA terms that prohibited reverse-engineering World of Warcraft. 











After Wednesday’s ruling, European software users enjoy broader rights to 
clone software than do users on this side of the pond. 





Atari Online News, Etc. is a weekly publication covering the entire 
Atari community. Reprint permission is granted, unless otherwise noted 
at the beginning of any article, to Atari user groups and not for 
profit publications only under the following terms: articles must 
remain unedited and include the issue number and author at the top of 


each article reprinted. Other reprints granted upon approval of 
request. Send requests to: dpj@atarinews.org 


No issue of Atari Online News, Etc. may be included on any commercial 
media, nor uploaded or transmitted to any commercial online service or 
internet site, in whole or in part, by any agent or means, without 

the expressed consent or permission from the Publisher or Editor of 
Atari Online News, Etc. 














Opinions presented herein are those of the individual authors and do 
not necessarily reflect those of the staff, or of the publishers. All 
material herein is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing.