Italian Court Convicts Google Employees for a User’s Video Upload

I just read Google’s blog today and was surprised to learn that an Italian court convicted some Google employees that, according to the post, had nothing to do with an uploaded video and weren’t aware of its existence, until it was taken down.

The video depicted a bullying attack and the perpetrators we’re found and charged. So, if a person uploads anything that violates privacy law in Italy, the website that hosts the uploaded video, will face charges as well.

Its a ridiculous ruling by the Italian court. Why did they stop at Google? Why not take it further? Why not the camcorder manufacturer?
the tape company?
the battery that powered the thing?
the electric company that powered the PC that uploaded the video?
the ISP that allowed it to be uploaded in the first place?
the ISP that allowed it to be downloaded for replay? etc.

Another point, if Google hadn’t provided a platform for hosting the video, there’s the possibility that the authorities would not have found out about the original crime and the criminals would have gone unpunished?

I wonder what the thought process was behind the justice’s decision? Would it have been better to sweep negative events like this under the rug? Read more about it here.

Comcast begins blocking customers legitimate emails

UPDATE: just received word over an hour ago that comcast has lifted the block on our IP range. Better late than never. Thanks to comcast, they must have real people, paying attention to things after all.

I’ve never posted work related material to this blog before (my real job, that is), but I have to rant and expose the nonsense going on over at comcast. Maybe I’d be going too far in calling it censorship, but I work for a medical news and information site.

It seems that a few weeks ago they implemented what is called a feedback loop. Basically, it means that if one or more users click a “This is spam” link or button on the comcast webmail website, not only will that email go into the users spam or junk mailbox, but they’ve taken it to another level, and blocked ALL email from our server to EVERY comcast.net mail account holder.

We have a decent number of comcast users that have requested daily news emails from us and are being denied a legitimate piece of email. (BTW, we are a 100% opt-in list and don’t buy or sell addresses to send to) As I said, we’re a medical news website and we don’t sell anything in our emails or on the site.

The outrage in this is that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” So denying someone a legitimate, requested email because someone else marked it as spam, is a bad thing.

Despite several attempts to resolve this, comcast is unresponsive. After sever weeks, comcast has not taken any action on our requests. Comcast ignores their users as well. We forwarded to them, copies of email from our users demanding that we restore their medical news email. We’ve also reccomended that our loyal readers contact comcast directly as well. So far, comcast continues ignore their customers and to deny their customers wishes.

I am not in favor of spam, I get several hundred or more spam messages per day that I could do without.

I also get email that is not spam, that like the emails we send out, I have signed up for at various businesses, news or tech websites. Many times I don’t get to read them. Many times I sign up because I think I would like to read them, but it turns out they are not what I expected or just don’t have the time.

As you may know, most users have been taught to NEVER click on the unsubscribe at the bottom of the emails, because you’ll just get more emails.

There’s a good chance some of our comcast.net readers may not remember signing up for our email. Surely some of these comcast.net readers decided our email wasn’t right for them. Maybe some of them clicked the “SPAM” button because its faster, easier and as they’ve been warned, safer for them. Why chance being bothered with an unsubscribe process fraught with the consequence of getting more junk mail (although, I assure you, ours doesn’t sign you up for more mail).

Thanks for listening. If there’s anyone out there in the same boat, please add a comment. I’d love to hear it.

the problem with iChat…my face

I can see myself.

There it is. Right up there—first sentence. That’s the biggest reason for the lack of use of iChat videoconferencing (in the workplace, at least). At home its a big hit with the kids. They eat it up. Especially in Leopard, with the addition of cool “Effects” that let you distort your image like a Picasso or have a dynamic background using a poor man’s green screen. There are also developers creating add-on effects for it.

Back to the work issue. I think iChat would be a great tool at work. Especially with increased telecommuting, increasing numbers of permanently remote users, and for groups who need to collaborate, it can be a valuable tool. All of the new MacBook and MacBookPro laptops in our group have the video capability built-in. I can count on one hand the number of times it has been used.

I was wondering why we use it so little, then it hit me. I don’t want to see my ugly mug on screen and if others feel the way I do, that explains it. Its not that I or any of my friends and co-workers look particularly unappealing (People have told me I look a little like Andre Agassi and Uncle Fester, so go figure).

Nobody, wants to see themselves on screen. When you’re speaking to someone, you don’t see yourself. When I’m talking to someone, in my head I look like _______________ (fill-in the name of some Hollywood mega-star), but on iChat, its not that guy.

So rest assured, there is a solution, in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), but it is not enabled by default. From Apple.com:

Hide Local Video
Remove the picture-in-picture view from your iChat video conference if you prefer not seeing yourself in the chat. Just select Hide Local Video from the Video menu.

Link: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/300.html#ichat

So, the challenge for me now is to fix this on every machine in my group. Which I will attempt to do next week. I promise to report back if the use of iChat video increases.

Sync the Blackberry Pearl (8100) with Mac OS X (part 2)

Link to Part 1
One of the best features of the pearl, besides the “pearl (trackball) itself, is that it accepts the MicroSD card. I suggest getting a 2GB card and a full sized SD adapter, in case you want to use it with an external card reader. The only drawback to using it with a card reader is that you’ll have to power down the Blackberry and pop out the battery in order to get to it.

Once you have a multimedia card installed, you can then sync iTunes playlists between the Pearl and your machine. Open up the Missing Sync for Blackberry software. You’ll notice the fourth item down in the window is labelled “Music” Click on it and the row highlights. Then click on the “Settings…” Sync iTunes Music

Another window will drop down and if you’ve set up playlists of music in iTunes, you’ll see them listed there. Simply check those you want copied to the Pearl. Sync iTunes Playlists I left the default items listed below the playlists as is. You can change how much free space you leave on the media card and how often you want to sync tunes. You may want to turn of syncing music everytime, for sake of speed, if you sync frequently and only want to keep contacts, calendars up to date.

Missed Part 1? Click here