Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Screensaver to tie up spammers’ sites.

For those of you that still use screensavers, try this out.

Screensaver to tie up spammers’ sites

Internet users fed up with spam can go on the offensive by downloading a screensaver aimed at hitting junkmailers in the pocket.

The screensaver, called Make Love Not Spam and launched by search engine Lycos, requests data from websites that are mentioned in bulk mailings.

Lycos Europe spokesman Frank Legerland says if thousands of users sign up, the websites’ servers will run at nearly full tilt.

The demand will slow the websites’ response and hike their bandwidth bills, yet derive no income for the accesses.

He says those costs may discourage the sites from hiring email spammers to advertise their wares.

“The aim is for a maximum reduction of 95 per cent in the website’s traffic, not a total shutdown,” Mr Legerland said.

The websites have been chosen from spammers’ blacklists selected by anti-spam watchdogs such as Spamcop.

To make doubly sure there is no mistake, Lycos says it also checks to make sure that the sites are selling spam goods.

A complete shutdown of websites by swamping them with demand - a “distributed denial of service” - could be considered illegal in some jurisdictions.

Some Internet commentators have questioned the Lycos scheme, worrying that it will generate additional megabytes of useless traffic that could strain the Internet’s capacity.

Posted by SPN on 11/30 at 05:29 PM
Blogging • (0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Lava lamp left on hot stovetop explodes, killing man

How stupid!

Lava lamp left on hot stovetop explodes, killing man

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 Posted: 2:53 AM EST (0753 GMT)

KENT, Washington (AP)—A man who placed a lava lamp on a hot stovetop was killed when it exploded and sent a shard of glass into his heart, police said.

Philip Quinn, 24, was found dead in his trailer home Sunday night by his parents.

“Why on earth he was heating a lava lamp on the stove, we don’t know,” Kent Police spokesman Paul Petersen said Monday.

After the lamp exploded, Quinn apparently stumbled into his bedroom, where he died Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

Police found no evidence of drug or alcohol use

Posted by SPN on 11/30 at 03:26 PM
(2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

for people who won’t accept risk responsibility

Blood Boiler -2; Guaranteed to imediatley stop the human life. 

Why live dangerously with all those risky adventures like a flying shrimp at a Benihana resaurant. 

Never worry about car insurance again!

You don’t need that to get you down!  Just a couple of goulps of BB-2 and you’ll never worry about accepting risk again!


Posted by bbeard on 11/30 at 02:40 PM
Blogging • (2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Bush hoping to put some fun into his cabinet


WASHINGTON - President Bush on Monday nominated Carlos Gutierrez, a native of Cuba and now the chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., to be secretary of commerce.  If confirmed by the Senate, Gutierrez would succeed Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, a Texas confidant of Bushís, who announced his resignation shortly after the Nov. 2 election. The president announced his selection at the White House, calling Gutierrez ìa visionary executiveî and ìone of Americaís most respected business leaders.î

Gutierrez, whose family fled Cuba in 1960 when he was 6, joined Kellogg in 1975. Known for having a strong work ethic and a seemingly endless stream of ideas, he worked all over the world for the company before being promoted to president and chief operating officer in June 1998.

ìHe learned English from a bellhop at a Miami hotel,î President Bush said in introducing Gutierrez at the White House. ìCarlos will now carry on the work of a distinguished leader, Commerce Secretary Don Evans,î the president said

He said that Gutierrez will be an ìinspiration to millions of American men and women.î

ìWe never imagined that this country would give me this great opportunity,î Gutierrez told Bush. ìI believe passionately in your leadership and the direction youíve set.î

Posted by bbeard on 11/30 at 01:46 PM
Politics • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Anybody want to go to the local Japanese restuarant with me?

If you do, I need you to sign this paper first.

Benihana Chef’s Playful Food Toss Blamed for Diner’s Death
Tuesday November 23, 3:00 am ET
Andrew Harris, New York Law Journal

A piece of grilled shrimp flung playfully by a Japanese hibachi chef toward a tableside diner is being blamed for causing the man’s death.

Making a proximate-cause argument, the lawyer for the deceased man’s estate has alleged that the man’s reflexive response—to duck away from the flying food—caused a neck injury that required surgery.

Complications from that first operation necessitated a second procedure. Five months later, Jerry Colaitis of Old Brookville, N.Y., was dead of an illness that his family claims was proximately caused by the injury.

But for the food-flinging incident at the Benihana restaurant in Munsey Park, N.Y., Colaitis would still be alive, attorney Andre Ferenzo asserts.

“They set in motion a sequence of events,” he said.

Alleging wrongful death, Colaitis’ estate is seeking $10 million in damages. The complaint includes claims for pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

Benihana has denied all of the complaint’s material allegations. In other papers filed with the court, defense attorney Andrew B. Kaufman also questioned whether Colaitis was trying to avoid the flying shrimp or catch it in his mouth.

Last week, Nassau Supreme Court Justice Roy Mahon denied a defense motion for partial summary judgment, clearing the way for trial. Estate of Colaitis v. Benihana Inc., 015439-2002.

Kaufman, a partner in the New York City firm Gordon Silber, declined to discuss the case, saying only that he was reviewing the judge’s Nov. 16 decision for appealable issues.

Ferenzo, a Roslyn, N.Y., solo practitioner, maintains there is no issue as to liability.

According to Ferenzo, Colaitis, a furrier in his early 40s, had gathered with his wife, two sons and four stepdaughters to celebrate one of the boys’ birthdays.

Tableside cooking and chefs’ showmanship have been a trademark of the Benihana chain since it opened its first U.S. steak house in 1964. Seated around one of Benihana’s trademark hibachi dinner tables, the family watched as a chef diced the food as he cooked it.

Ferenzo said that the chef began flipping pieces of hot food toward the diners, once burning one of Colaitis’ sons. Asked to stop, the attorney said, the chef responded only with a smile and allegedly continued tossing morsels at his patrons.

When the chef flipped a piece of shrimp at Colaitis, he allegedly ducked away, injuring two vertebra in his neck. Doctors reportedly told Colaitis that if he did not have corrective surgery, another injury to the same disks might leave him paralyzed.

The first operation was in June 2001, six months after the Benihana dinner. A second procedure was performed two weeks later.

In succeeding months Colaitis developed a high fever and problems with his breathing and memory. He died in a hospital five months after the second surgery, on Nov. 22, 2001.

A contributing cause of his death, Ferenzo said, was a blood-borne infection. Justice Mahon’s decision also listed respiratory failure and renal failure as causes of death.

Neither side has sought to add the doctors or hospital where the surgery occurred, New York University Medical Center, to the case. Colaitis died at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.

Arguing for partial summary judgment, defendant’s attorney Kaufman challenged the plaintiff’s ability to prove proximate cause. In court papers, he said that Benihana cannot be liable for Colaitis’ death because of a break in the chain of causation between the first or second procedures and his death five months later.

“Essentially, as the plaintiff’s decedent died of an unidentifiable medical condition, the plaintiff will be unable to establish that any alleged negligence by Benihana proximately caused his demise,” Kaufman wrote.

In denying defendant’s motion, Justice Mahon held that whether the tableside events caused Colaitis’ death would best be resolved at trial.

Posted by SPN on 11/30 at 01:18 PM
Blogging • (4) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Once again, the indigeneous people are being slaughtered by the European invaders.


Palm Islanders say police are not welcome at the funeral of a man whose death in custody sparked last week’s riot in the north Queensland Indigenous community.

At the same time, a Gulf Aboriginal leader has warned there could be payback unless police drop the charges against those arrested over the riot.

Cameron Doomadgee, 36, was found dead in his cell shortly after being arrested for being a public nuisance.

A second post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr Doomadgee today. The coroner’s office says the results will be provided to his family first and it cannot say when the details will be publicly released.

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson says there will continue to be a strong police presence on Palm Island for as long as safety concerns linger after last Friday’s rampage.

But that is not what the local residents want as they prepare for the funeral.

Past council chairman Robert Blackley says police are not welcome at the funeral.

“They are for family, they are for friends, they are not for police officers because any police officer that turns up at the funeral is only going to be a target,” Mr Blackley said.

But Palm Island deputy chairwoman Rosina Norman has played down the prospect of trouble.

“No-one goes off at funerals because they always respect the family,” she said.

Mr Blackley says the men arrested over last week’s riot should be allowed to attend the funeral, expected to be held late next week.

“They don’t have passports, they don’t have millions of dollars to leave the country,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere if they come to Palm Island for a funeral.”

Meanwhile, Gulf Aboriginal leader Murrandoo Yanner is calling for the charges over last week’s riot to be dropped, warning that police could be targeted for payback unless that happens.

“I certainly don’t encourage or expect anyone to go out and kill anybody,” Mr Yanner said.

“There is death in ritual payback but payback comes in many, many forms. Many people may have a broken leg, speared in the leg symbolically to release blood and things.

“Payback comes in many forms but I certainly don’t advocate people go out and kill anybody.”

Posted by SPN on 11/30 at 11:18 AM
International • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Now that’s some strong piss.

Urine may cause bridge to collapse

A landmark bridge in Indonesia’s Sumatra island may collapse because too many people are fond of urinating on one of its steel pillars, a report says.

Public works officials have found that the Ampera bridge, the landmark of Palembang city, has begun to lean on an angle and rocks slightly when traffic is heavy.

The Jakarta Post reports that an official at the public works department in Palembang, Azmi Lakoni, says the bridge has deteriorated because people often took a leak on one of its piers, corroding the structure.

“We are concerned that one of its main support piers has been weakened by urine, as it is a popular spot for locals to relieve themselves,” Mr Lakoni told the newspaper.

He says that the acidic fluid’s corrosive forces could attribute to an eventual collapse of the bridge.

Officials say cargo vehicles weighing more than one tonne would be diverted from the bridge.

Posted by SPN on 11/30 at 09:16 AM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, November 29, 2004

Anyody ever heard of Charlie Sifford?

He’s the first black man inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame.




Charlie Sifford
# scorecards and plaque from his 1967 Greater Hartford Open victory
# contestant badge, commemorative medallion and program from his 1969 LA Open win
# trophy representing his United Golf Association (UGA) National Negro Open titles, a tournament he won six times
# first set of contract clubs: 1960 Dunlap Signature
# 1975 Senior PGA Championship trophy
# personal scrapbook and family photos
# a few of his trademark cigars that are a constant fixture in his game

Posted by SPN on 11/29 at 05:14 PM
Celebrity • (0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Here’s more about the MJ case.

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court appeared hesitant Monday to endorse medical marijuana for patients who have a doctor’s recommendation.

Justices are considering whether sick people in 11 states with medical marijuana laws can get around a federal ban on pot.

Paul Clement, the Bush administration’s top court lawyer, noted that California allows people with chronic physical and mental health problems to smoke pot and said that potentially many people are subjecting themselves to health dangers.

“Smoked marijuana really doesn’t have any future in medicine,” he said.

Justice Stephen Breyer said supporters of marijuana for the ill should take their fight to federal drug regulators _ before coming to the Supreme Court, and several justices repeatedly referred to America’s drug addiction problems.

Dozens of people, some with blankets, camped outside the high court to hear justices debate the issue. Groups such as the Drug Free America Foundation fear a government loss will undermine campaigns against addictive drugs.

The high court heard arguments in the case of Angel Raich, who tried dozens of prescription medicines to ease the pain of a brain tumor and other illnesses before she turned to pot.

Supporters of Raich and another ill woman who filed a lawsuit after her California home was raided by federal agents argue that people with the AIDS virus, cancer and other diseases should be able to grow and use marijuana.

Their attorney, Randy Barnett of Boston, told justices that his clients are law-abiding citizens who need marijuana to survive. Marijuana may have some side effects, he said, but seriously sick people are willing to take the chance.

Besides California, nine other states allow people to use marijuana if their doctors agree: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Arizona also has a law permitting marijuana prescriptions, but no active program.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against the government in a divided opinion that found federal prosecution of medical marijuana users is unconstitutional if the marijuana is not sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medicinal purposes.

Lawyers for Raich and Diane Monson contend the government has no justification for pursuing ill small-scale users. Raich, an Oakland, Calif., mother of two teenagers, has scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other illnesses. Monson, a 47-year-old accountant who lives near Oroville, Calif., has degenerative spine disease and grows her own marijuana plants in her backyard.

The Bush administration argues that Congress has found no accepted medical use of marijuana and needs to be able to eradicate drug trafficking and its social harms.

The Supreme Court ruled three years ago that the government could prosecute distributors of medical marijuana despite their claim that the activity was protected by “medical necessity.”

Dozens of groups have weighed in on the latest case, which deals with users and is much more sweeping.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, conservative states that do not have medical marijuana laws, sided with the marijuana users on grounds that the federal government was trying to butt into state business of providing “for the health, safety, welfare and morals of their citizens.”

Some Republican members of Congress, meanwhile, urged the court to consider that more than 20,000 people die each year because of drug abuse. A ruling against the government, they said, would help drug traffickers avoid arrest, increase the marijuana supply and send a message that illegal drugs are good.

California’s 1996 medical marijuana law allows people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor’s recommendation.

Medical marijuana was an issue in the November elections. Montana voters easily approved a law that shields patients, their doctors and caregivers from arrest and prosecution for medical marijuana. But Oregon rejected a measure that would have dramatically expanded its existing medical marijuana program.

The case is Ashcroft v. Raich, 03-1454.

Posted by SPN on 11/29 at 04:52 PM
Justice / Injustice • (2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

My advise to you is…

… to hide your crack in a better place before calling the cops to your house.

Saturday, November 27, 2004 Posted: 6:03 PM EST (2303 GMT)

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP)—A father’s attempt to teach his daughter a lesson about drinking backfired when the teen led police to a stash of drugs and weapons inside their home.

Kevin Winston, 46, called police at 2:45 a.m. Friday after his 16-year-old daughter came home drunk and unruly. When police arrived, however, the girl told them she feared for her safety because her father stored drugs and weapons in the home.

The girl led officers to a crawl space above the ceiling where they found four semiautomatic guns and more than 600 vials of cocaine.

Winston was charged with numerous weapons and drug charges. His five daughters were placed in the custody of a relative.

“He called us on her and ended up getting locked up himself,” said Newark Police Director Anthony Ambrose.

Posted by SPN on 11/29 at 12:35 PM
(5) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

I like violent video games, but this is just in bad taste.


A View to a Kill
JFK Reloaded is just plain creepy.
By Clive Thompson

As I watch the limo creep down Dealey Plaza, I put my finger on the trigger and peer down my rifle’s telescope. I can see my target in the cross hairs. It’s Nov. 22, 1963. I’m trying to kill the president.

The game I’m playing, JFK Reloaded, was released today by the Scottish company Traffic, on the 41st anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Not surprisingly, it provoked a backlash before anyone ever played it. “It’s despicable. There’s really no further comment,” said a spokesman for Ted Kennedy.

On the surface, the game certainly seems like a loathsome piece of opportunism. The designers, though, claim the game’s intent is to educate. The stated goal of JFK Reloaded is to debunk assassination conspiracy theories by buttressing the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and fired only three bullets. So, the game places you in the precise place where Oswald stood‚Äîthe sixth-floor window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository‚Äîand challenges you to re-create his three shots. One shot missed the car entirely; another hit JFK in the neck; and a third hit the president’s head, causing what the commission called “a massive and fatal wound.” The closer you get to matching those three trajectories, the closer you get to a perfect score of 1,000. (The game designers are also offering a cash prize to the player who gets the highest score.) You can replay the scene as many times as you’d like.

On its face, this is an interesting concept. If people still don’t believe that Oswald acted alone, why not create a realistic 3-D simulation of the event to show it could have worked that way? This is what video games are uniquely suited to do‚Äîset up a system and let people mess around in it so they can discover what’s possible and what’s impossible. That’s part of the pleasure of everything from the Sims to Super Mario 64.

After playing JFK Reloaded for a couple of hours, I have to give Traffic credit for the game’s unbelievably precise physics. Every bullet bounces around with a super-realistic trajectory, behaving in the incredibly complicated way that bullets do. Sometimes I’d hit the back of the limo and the bullet would careen forward, smashing the glass; other times it would embed itself in the metal. After each round, the game lets you view the scene in a dozen different ways, including the classic Zapruder film angle or even from the perspective of a camera mounted on the limo. Then you get a 3-D model of the limo that you can rotate however you want, with the bullet trajectories traced in freeze-frame. As a physics simulation, it’s remarkable.

But as an experience? It’s nauseating.

When I play blood-soaked shoot-’em-up games, the vamped-up violence doesn’t really bother me‚Äîthe more cartoonish the action, the fewer consequences the game seems to have. Even war games where you’re theoretically fighting a real enemy‚Äîlike German or American or Japanese armies‚Äîdon’t really feel personal. But JFK Reloaded is different. When you peer through the rifle scope, the faces of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy (and Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife Nellie) are completely recognizable. These are real people who still have immediate living relatives‚Äîor, in the case of Nellie Connally, are still alive. While the game’s ostensible purpose is simply to re-kill Kennedy as accurately as possible, you can perform any number of alternative scenarios. Shoot the driver first, and the motorcade comes to a halt, allowing you to pick off anyone you want. Or sometimes the driver dies with his foot on the accelerator, driving the car off the road and into a lamppost. You can, if you wish, kill Jackie instead.

When I finally managed to kill JFK and watched his head blow open while he flopped forward like a rag doll, I was genuinely horrified. The game wants you to think about what’s happening as a mere physics experiment, but you can’t, nor would you want to. Because it’s focused solely on the narrow question of whether you can replicate Oswald’s shots, it doesn’t try to achieve the sort of catharsis that is supposed to come from wrenching art. When the ballistics reports told me, for example, that one of my shots hit JFK in the right shoulder, exited his chest, bounced off his right fingers, and ricocheted through the limo until it hit Connally in the shin, I wasn’t really thinking about how if I just aimed a little higher, then I could’ve gotten closer to 1,000 points.

After about an hour, I got my score up to 430. I was pretty good at the game, but I didn’t feel like I’d won anything

Posted by SPN on 11/29 at 10:33 AM
Personal • (6) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Showdown over medical marijuana

Diud I say that California sucks?  If I did, I’d like to alter that statement.  California sucks… on occasion.  I am glad to see that the State’s Supreme court has stood by the voter’s stand on medical marijuana.


The Supreme Court hears a California case today that could become a signature decision of the Rehnquist era.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON ñ Angel Raich and Diane Monson know plenty about the failings of modern medicine.

Ms. Raich has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and Ms. Monson suffers from what her doctors say is a degenerative spine disease. Both women have tried virtually every form of medication legally available, but the multiple side effects from prescription drugs have only compounded their difficulties.

In searching for an alternative, and upon their physicians’ advice, the two California residents started using marijuana. Both say it helps them cope with pain.

But, yes, there is a problem. While medical use of marijuana is authorized under a 1996 California law, federal law bans marijuana as an illegal drug.

Monday Raich and Monson’s case arrives at the US Supreme Court where the justices must decide whether California law or federal law should apply.

How the justices decide the case could affect more than just the applicability of medical-marijuana laws in California and a handful of other states with similar provisions. It could redefine the balance of power between Congress and the states and become a signature decision of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

“I think it will be a landmark, one way or the other,” says Randy Barnett, a professor at Boston University School of Law, who is arguing the case for Raich and Monson.

Ultimately at issue in the case is to what extent the Constitution places limits, under the commerce clause, on Congress’s ability to regulate areas that have traditionally been left to state and local jurisdictions.

Legal analysts say one aspect of the case that makes it particularly worth watching is the mix of a liberal policy issue - medical-marijuana use - with a constitutional principle embraced by conservatives - federalism (state sovereignty).

Will conservative justices support federalism even when it means upholding a liberal marijuana-use law that they would probably never otherwise endorse? And will liberal justices support the medical-marijuana provision even when their support of it might advance a view of federalism considered anathema by the court’s dissenting liberal wing in earlier cases?

At the time the Constitution was written, the federal government’s powers were sharply constrained to avoid conflicts with state and local laws. Other than a few areas subject to federal jurisdiction, all other areas were to be left to the states.

The Constitution specifically empowers Congress to regulate commerce among states. For much of the nation’s history, this provision meant that Congress could pass laws concerning interstate trade and other activities among and between the states to facilitate the emergence of a national economy. But the controlling feature of the clause has always been how the high court defines “commerce.”

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Supreme Court embraced a broad view of “commerce,” ruling that congressional power to regulate the economy wasn’t strictly confined to interstate commercial activities. The justices announced that congressional power could extend to intrastate activity, upholding federal regulation of wheat produced on a family farm - even when the wheat was grown for consumption only on the farm.

That landmark 1942 decision called Wickard v. Filburn opened the door for congressional regulation reaching down to the state and local level - as long as whatever was being regulated had an impact on “commerce,” as it was broadly defined by the high court.

This definition permitted an explosive growth in national legislation that continued unabated until 1995, when the justices by a 5-to-4 vote struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act. In 2000, the same 5-to-4 majority invalidated a portion of the Violence Against Women Act that authorized victims of gender-motivated violence to sue their attackers in federal court.

Many analysts say the medical- marijuana case places the high court at a crossroads. It can either continue the trend begun with its rulings in 1995 and 2000, or it can step back and authorize what some say would be even broader federal power at the expense of state sovereignty. “If the court upholds [the Justice Department’s] claim of federal power, this case will supplant Wickard to become the most expansive interpretation of the commerce clause since the founding,” say Robert Long Jr. and Professor Barnett in their brief to the court on behalf of Raich and Monson.

Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement says the medical use of marijuana cannot escape congressional regulation any more than farm-consumed wheat did in the Wickard case. If the federal government were unable to enforce federal drug laws within a particular state, it would undercut Congress’s goal of effectively countering the illicit trade in narcotics.

“[Raich and Monson’s] conduct is economic activity because it occurs in, and substantially affects, the marijuana market generally,” Mr. Clement says in his brief.

Lawyers for Raich and Monson disagree. Monson grows her own marijuana at home. Raich, who is unable to grow her own, is supplied marijuana free of charge by two growers who use only supplies originating in or manufactured in California.

Some analysts are raising questions about the potential broad impact of a ruling in favor of Raich and Monson. They suggest that it could complicate enforcement of federal child-pornography laws and other statutes.

Barnett says such concerns are overblown: Cases involving possession of child pornography within one state could be turned over to state prosecutors.

Posted by SPN on 11/29 at 08:27 AM
Science / Technology • (11) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I’m always late about this.


Posted by SPN on 11/25 at 07:22 PM
(2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

The Bastards!  How am I going to steal classified documents now?


Jason Tuohey, Medill News Service

WASHINGTON--Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small, scattered yellow dots printer there that could be used to trace the document back to you.

According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.

Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company’s laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the “serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots” in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.

“It’s a trail back to you, like a license plate,” Crean says.

The dots’ minuscule size, covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their color combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says. One way to determine if your color laser is applying this tracking process is to shine a blue LED light--say, from a keychain laser flashlight--on your page and use a magnifier.
Crime Fighting vs. Privacy

Laser-printing technology makes it incredibly easy to counterfeit money and documents, and Crean says the dots, in use in some printers for decades, allow law enforcement to identify and track down counterfeiters.

However, they could also be employed to track a document back to any person or business that printed it. Although the technology has existed for a long time, printer companies have not been required to notify customers of the feature.

Lorelei Pagano, a counterfeiting specialist with the U.S. Secret Service, stresses that the government uses the embedded serial numbers only when alerted to a forgery. “The only time any information is gained from these documents is purely in [the case of] a criminal act,” she says.

John Morris, a lawyer for The Center for Democracy and Technology, says, “That type of assurance doesn’t really assure me at all, unless there’s some type of statute.” He adds, “At a bare minimum, there needs to be a notice to consumers.”

If the practice disturbs you, don’t bother trying to disable the encoding mechanism--you’ll probably just break your printer.

Crean describes the device as a chip located “way in the machine, right near the laser” that embeds the dots when the document “is about 20 billionths of a second” from printing.

“Standard mischief won’t get you around it,” Crean adds.

Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace among major printer companies.

“The industry absolutely has been extraordinarily helpful [to law enforcement],” Pagano says.

According to Pagano, counterfeiting cases are brought to the Secret Service, which checks the documents, determines the brand and serial number of the printer, and contacts the company. Some, like Xerox, have a customer database, and they share the information with the government.

Crean says Xerox and the government have a good relationship. “The U.S. government had been on board all along--they would actually come out to our labs,” Crean says.

Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed for both home and office.

Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily be used to counterfeit bills.

“We developed the first (encoding mechanism) in house because several countries had expressed concern about allowing us to sell the printers in their country,” Crean says.

Since then, he says, many other companies have adopted the practice.

The United States is not the only country teaming with private industry to fight counterfeiters. A recent article points to the Dutch government as using similar anticounterfeiting methods, and cites Canon as a company with encoding technology. Canon USA declined to comment.

Posted by SPN on 11/25 at 11:29 AM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

You bastards!  What will Patrick do now?

Have I mentioned that I think that the death penalty is justified in some cases?


Wed Nov 24, 6:31 PM ET

Have you seen this sponge? Police are looking for a blow-up figure of SpongeBob SquarePants swiped from a Minnesota Burger King. They’ve found a ransom note which starts off: “We have SpongeBob.” It then demands, “Give us ten Crabby Patties, fries and milkshakes.”

The ransom note is signed by SpongeBob’s nemesis, Plankton. A postscript reads: “Patrick is next,” referring to the Bermuda shorts-wearing starfish that serves as SpongeBob’s sidekick.

At a southeastern Utah Burger King, vandals made off with a 10-foot-tall SpongeBob balloon.

Employees are handing out “Missing” fliers with a full description of the popular cartoon figure featured in a new movie.

Posted by SPN on 11/25 at 09:26 AM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
Page 1 of 6 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »