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Steven Warshak, the man behind the "natural male enhancement" product Enzyte often advertised on late-night TV, has successfully challenged the government's ability to access his e-mails without obtaining a search warrant or giving notification to Warshak. HangZhou Night Net

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the government had acted improperly in its wire fraud and money laundering case against Warshak and his company. As part of the case (which we reported on earlier), the feds secured a court order under the Stored Communications Act (SCA)that allowedthem to access Warshak's stored online e-mail.

A court order does not require the full "probable cause" level of evidence demanded by a subpoena, but it does involve some judicial oversight. Normally, a court order of this kind requires notification so that the subject of the order can challenge it, but in this case, the judge gave the government 90 days to look at the e-mails before it needed to contact Warshak. This is allowed under the SCA, but Warshak argued that gaining access to his e-mail without 1) a warrant or 2) a court order with notification was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Appeals Court ruled in Warshak's favor. In the decision, the Court noted that the rules "still allow seizures of e-mails pursuant to a warrant or with prior notice to a subscriber" but that the ability to get the court order without notification was no longer allowed.

The court also responded positively to the idea that e-mails should be given the same privacy protection as phone calls. This means that getting access to an ISP's customer information database would be allowed without a warrant, but getting access to the actual text of the e-mails would not. In the telecom world, this is analogous to the "pen register" that grabs data about what phone numbers are being dialed but does not provide access to the content of the call.

The Court found that "individuals maintain a reasonable expectation of privacy in e-mails that are stored with, or sent or received through, a commercial ISP," dealing a blow to government attempts to get easier access to e-mails stored with an ISP than those stored on a suspect's own computer. Protecting the privacy of e-mail is "as important to Fourth Amendment principles today as protecting telephone conversations has been in the past."

"E-mail users expect that their Hotmail and Gmail inboxes are just as private as their postal mail and their telephone calls," said EFF staff attorney Kevin Bankston, who helped draft an amicus brief in the case. "The government tried to get around this common-sense conclusion, but the Constitution applies online as well as offline, as the court correctly found. That means that the government can't secretly seize your emails without a warrant."

With that important e-mail issue resolved, the case against Warshak will continue.

Gateway has announced that it is recalling 14,000 notebook batteries from laptops sold during the months of May and June 2003. The recall is in response to high temperatures that occur in lithium-ion batteries that could potentially cause a fire. The faulty batteries can be found in Gateway notebook models 400VTX and 450ROG and will be replaced for free. Not every model uses these batteries though, so here's how to find out if yours does. HangZhou Night Net

To find your battery number, you'll need to remove your battery from your laptop. Before doing this, make sure your LCD is closed, and your laptop is face down, back up. Unlock the notebook battery lock and slide open the battery release latch, then slide the battery out of the bay. On the battery you'll find two numbers: a serial number and a battery part number. If your battery has part numbers 6500760 or 6500761, then you have one of Gateway's faulty batteries. To exchange your battery for a new one, fill out Gateway's Battery Exchange Request Form.

Last year Sony issued a worldwide recall for Sony-manufactured lithium-ion batteries that shipped in Lenovo/IBM, Dell, Apple, and Toshiba notebook computers after battery malfunctions caused a Lenovo ThinkPad battery to burst into flames in a Los Angeles airport. Earlier this year, Lenovo recalled ThinkPad batteries for over 208,000 notebooks after overheating issues caused damage to a number of notebooks. Speaking of Toshiba, the company yesterday stepped up its own notebook battery recall after a laptop caught fire in Britain last month. Toshiba is currently in talks with Sony to discuss a reimbursement for the recall, which is expected cost Sony roughly $400 million when all is said and done.

A new battery standardization project hopes to make recalls a thing of the past. The Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC) Lithium Ion Battery Subcommittee said last year that the IPC expected to have a completed a lithium-ion battery standard for laptops and handheld devices by this time (it has yet to arrive). In December the IEEE said that it expected its revised IEEE 1625 standard to be completed by the end of 2007, at that rate though, we likely won't see the finished product until sometime in 2008.

Without an official standard for lithium-ion batteries, manufacturers like Matsushita have taken matters into their own hands. Last December Matsushita developed a safer lithium-ion battery for notebooks that uses a heat-resistant insulator between the cathode and the anode of a battery that prevents punctures from short-circuiting batteries.

After a few runs, I began to ask whether I was pushing myself hard enough. I could always try to up my personal best, but that isn't always the best indication of whether you are working as hard as you should be. Ideally, I would use a heart rate monitor, but that is significantly more money than I'd already spent. Second best would be a personal trainer to motivate me to work my hardest, but unfortunately that would be even more expensive than the heart rate monitor.HangZhou Night Net

So what am I (and you) to do? Luckily for us, Nike has us covered. On the iTunes Store, the shoe company has a variety of different workouts available to help keep your running steady. Today we will look at Improve our Endurance 1.

There is the saying "Nothing in life is free." Well, these workouts are no exception. Some might even consider them a poor value, but hold any judgment until the end. For $14.99, you get ten full-length songs from the hip-hop genre, including tracks by Obie Trice, Busta, and the Pussycat Dolls. You also get an additional track entitled the "Continuous Mix," which is the full workout track, and a digital booklet. The "Continuous Mix," which changes songs to go along with the speed in which you are supposed to run at any given time, also features a voiceover with training instructions (the continuous mix only works with iPod nanos, by the way). Here, the instructions say to do a ten-minute warmup, four sets of three-minute speed intervals, and then ten minutes of cool-down.

I know what you are asking: "If that's the workout routine, why not just do that? Why not just use music you already have and a stopwatch?" For some, that method might be enough, but for those of us that like the encouragement and time updates that a personal trainer, a coach, or a voiceover track provides, this workout works well. There is something to be said for a voice telling you that you are halfway there or that there are "only three minutes" remaining. The change of tempos and intensity throughout the workout does a lot for your mindset during your run, too. If the 42:49 running time seems like too much or doesn't fit into your schedule, you can always do what I do and tailor it to your ability or needs. For me that means not using the entire 42 minutes but instead using the track for a given distance.

Here is the bad: if you are to the point where you can run intervals more than twice a week, and this is the only interval training track you have, this music will get pretty boring pretty quickly. If you run this interval training once a week, it isn't so bad, but you will begin to feel some hatred for the Pussycat Dolls after a while. Be warned!

A new bill introduced into the House of Representatives yesterday would force cable operators to offer a family tier of programming, along with an "opt-out" à la carte cable programming option. At the same time, it would apply broadcast indecency standards that restrict indecent programming to the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM to cable and satellite networks. HangZhou Night Net

The Family and Consumer Choice Act of 2007 is cosponsored by Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and would be the à la carte law that Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin says is necessary. The bill has not yet appeared on the Library of Congress web site, but Ars was able to obtain a copy of the legislation from Rep. Lipinski's office.

Tiers and à la carte

The bill has something for everyone who has been advocating for à la carte cable. Those concerned by the amount of programming available on cable that's inappropriate for young eyes should be pleased, as there's a very real "think of the children" thread running through the bill. "Of those homes with children subscribing to cable service, the vast majority subscribe to expanded basic cable service," notes the bill. For that reason, the bill would mandate the creation of "real family tiers of programming," which the bill defines as all channels in the expanded basic tier aside from those carrying programming rated TV-Mature or TV-14 between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

Those who are tired of paying for channels that they never watch will like the bill's opt-out provision, which will give cable and satellite subscribers the ability to cancel channels on an individual basis. The legislation says that anyone electing to do so would receive a "credit on the monthly bill… for such blocked channels in an amount equal to the amount that such distributor pays for the right to provide such blocked channel."

That rumbling you're hearing is the heavy-duty lobbying machines of the cable companies being revved up and put into gear. Cable and satellite providers have consistently opposed à la carte programming, saying that it would raise overall programming costs while dooming niche networks that have a limited audience. A couple of cable companies—most notably Time Warner—have created family tiers, but those are the exception, rather than the rule. And despite all the discussion about à la carte cable, consumers are generally indifferent to it and unrealistic about its price.

Applying broadcast standards to cable

Moving beyond à la carte and family tiers, the legislation would extend indecent programming restrictions that are currently applied to terrestrial TV to cable and satellite networks. "In accordance with the indecency and profanity policies and standards applied by the [FCC] to broadcasters, as such policies and standards are modified from time to time, not transmit any material that is indecent or profane on any channel in the expanded basic tier of such distributor" except between 10 PM and 6 AM.

Rep. Lipinski and FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who has advocated for expanded indecency regulations, believe that parents need government help in protecting their children from objectionable content. "In today's culture, parents are increasingly worried that their children are exposed to obscene, indecent, and violent programming," Rep. Lipinski said in a statement. "While there is no doubt that parents are the first line of defense in protecting their kids, clearly they need more help."

With the parental controls built into every television set, set-top box, and DVR being sold these days, the need for such legislation seems questionable at best. Unlike broadcast television, which is available to anyone with a TV and an antenna, people subscribe to and pay for cable/satellite. Those who are concerned about the possibility of indecent programming during the daytime already have several options available to them, including not subscribing to cable or using some of the technological means available to block objectionable content.

In a conference call on Thursday, Intel laid out its mid- to long-term plans for the Itanium Product Family (IPF). With all the hype around Penryn and Nehalem and the ongoing popularity of chatter about Itanium's eventual demise at the hands of 64-bit x86, Intel took a moment to remind the press and analysts that Itanium is still here, still posting double-digit year-over-year growth in revenue and unit shipments, and still looking toward the future. HangZhou Night Net

Indeed, Itanium's future was the focus of the call, in which Intel described its IPF roadmap for the next few product iterations. Here's a summary of what was announced.

The next version of Itanium to hit the streets will be Montevale, which is a tweak of the dual-core Montecito with some additional RAS features.

Following Montevale in 2008 will be the quad-core Tukwila, the next major version of Itanium since Montecito brought the platform into the dual-core realm. Tukwila is a 65nm quad-core part (all four cores are on the same die, so AMD would approve) with an on-die memory controller and support for simultaneous multithreading. Intel claims that Tukwila will offer two times the performance of Montecito at the same TDP.

The major feature that Tukwila will bring to the Itanium line is support for Intel's sorely needed and extremely delayed common systems interconnect (CSI). CSI promises a new socket and bus protocol format that will support either an Itanium chip or a Xeon. Intel will also release chipset hardware that will support either processor on the same motherboard. At last, Xeon and Itanium will be drop-in replacements for one another, a feature that should go a long way in helping with IPF's uptake.

Of course, CSI also offers bandwidth improvements and a host of other features that will finally give Intel a real competitor to AMD's HyperTransport, which by then will be in its 3.0 iteration.

Tukwila's microarchitecture will be essentially the same as that of Montecito, which is itself the same as the Itanium2 processor launched in 2002. IPF's basic microarchitecture won't get a major overhaul until sometime around 2010, when the 32nm Poulson chip launches. Intel was pretty mum on Poulson, not giving too many details.

If Poulson details were scarce, details about its successor, codenamed Kittson, were nonexistent. Intel would only give a codename, with no word on a timeframe, features, or anything else.

Opera Software vice president Tatsuki Tomita has confirmed that his company is developing a replacement for the Adobe Flash plug-in for use with future versions of the Opera Mini mobile web browser. HangZhou Night Net

Tomita explained that the reason for this move is that the traditional Flash plug-in uses a large amount of CPU and memory resources, limiting speed and battery life on mobile platforms. The problem is exacerbated when the Flash plug-in is not well-optimized for the platform it is running on; Macintosh users can attest to this firsthand. "You cannot execute and provide a good user experience," Tomita told InfoWorld, referring to running the Flash plug-in on mobile devices.

The new technology will add video capability directly into the Web browser so that users can see and play back video content directly in Opera. As of yet, Opera has not commented on whether or not the new native playback ability for Opera Mobile will be able to play existing Flash content.

Flash playback has often been a sore point for Opera users on various platforms. Earlier versions of Opera had difficulty playing back fullscreen versions of YouTube videos, for example, until Opera fixed that particular bug. Users of Opera on the Wii have noted that not all Flash content is playable on that device.

Tomita did not give a date for when the Opera Mini Flash replacement would be available. He said that he expects the web browser to continue to gain functionality as more and more companies move towards making web-based versions of their applications. He said that the limitations of web-based applications can be overcome if browser providers work with individual mobile device makers to control the hardware and software capabilities natively. In this case, it seems like he is referring to phone manufacturers who want to deliver their own premium video content to users, which he believes the new Opera native Flash replacement will do better than existing solutions.

A few days ago, Ars reviewed the new 17" MacBook Pro. Most of that review also applies to the new 15-inchers, but there is one aspect to the latest incarnation of the 15" MacBook Pro that warrants another look: the LED-backlit screen. HangZhou Night Net

When I started up my new 2.2 GHz 15" MacBook Pro this morning, I wasn't immediately struck by the brightness of the screen. Sure, it was brighter than the screen of the PowerBook I was replacing, and maybe even a bit brighter than the CRT that still decorates my desk, but not by a huge margin. Then again, it was a cloudy day, so no sun to wash out the image on the screen. However after it had gotten dark, I launched an investigation into rumors that the iSight now has a 1.3 megapixel resolution. (It doesn't. Too bad.) Initially, the iSight images were too dark to be useful. So I thought I'd increase the screen brightness, thinking that maybe that would illuminate my face. Did it ever. I almost had to squint because of the barrage of photons sent my way. You can actually video conference in complete darkness, with only the display to light your face. So, yes, it's bright. Apple says that the brightness is the same as the previous model, but remember, I'm upgrading from a nearly four-year-old PowerBook. Also, the screen goes to full brightness immediately. No warming up. The keyboard backlighting is also very bright and is a bit on the purple side.

The next thing I wanted to know was whether the yellow cast observed in some photos of the new MBPs meant that the new screens have a different color temperature than the old ones. They don't. Visual inspection shows no color cast, and looking at the color profile for the screen with the ColorSync Utility shows that the native white point is identical to that of the previous-generation of MBP 15" screens. That would be standard 6500K or D65—the color of daylight on an overcast day. However, looking at the screen from an angle makes the image brown-yellowish. I was a bit worried about the viewing angles, but it's not as bad as I had feared. If you sit back a bit and adjust the screen so it's perpendicular to your line of sight, you're in good shape. When leaning in, however, you'll look at the corners of the screen at enough of an angle to introduce color shifts.

The black level is very good for an LCD screen: it's not entirely pitch black, but it's getting there. The one thing I don't like so much is that the very top of the screen (10 to 15 pixels) is brighter than the rest of the display. But the top of the screen is the best place for this flaw, as it's normally hidden by the menu bar and when playing video, the problem area will likely end up in the letter boxing for wide screen content, as the aspect is 16:10 while wide screen video is 16:9.

Really good LED-backlit LCD screens are supposed to have a wider range of colors (the gamut) than regular LCD displays with cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlights, but cheap LED-powered displays can have a worse-than-usual gamut. Apple says the new screens are identical to the old ones, which is hard to believe considering the fundamental change in underlying technology. So I was very interested to see how the information in the color profiles of the new screen compares to that of its immediate predecessor. If you look at the images closely, you'll see that the triangle that encompasses the gamut of the display is slightly bigger for the new MacBook Pro: it extends farther into the yellow part of the spectrum. However, compared to the sRGB profile, the change doesn't amount to much.

So although Apple's claim that the new screens are identical to the old ones isn't strictly true, it's not hard to see hard to see why they would say that.

A few weeks ago, I agreed to be an interview subject for George Kenney's podcast series, Electric Politics. Kenney is a really interesting guy with an distinguished and varied biography, and his podcast series hosts an impressive range of guests on a variety of topics related to politics and technology. I was honored to follow Chalmers Johnson as an interviewee, and my interview is now available from Kenney's site. HangZhou Night Net

A few words of warning before you download the interview. First, Kenney had mentioned that the particular type of broadcast-quality audio recording equipment that he uses doesn't work as well with Skype as it does with standard phone lines. My house is Skype- and mobile-only, so POTS wasn't an option for me. I typically talk in a fairly low register, so when you combine that with the Skype-related static, it sounds like I really need to cough throughout most of the interview. Not that the audio is bad, mind you, but listening to it I kept thinking, "man, I sound kind of gurgly."

The second caveat relates to the extremely open-ended and wide-ranging nature of the conversation: politics, religion, technology, and everything in between. The spontaneous, open-endedness of it all—there was no plan to talk about one particular topic—and the total lack of visual cues on my end that would let me know when I'm rambling and when I'm staying on topic, made it extremely difficult for me stay focused in my responses. On the whole, I think I did a pretty good job given the circumstances, but there are a few moments that (to me at least) seem to veer into "dorm room bull-session" type territory because I'm on this kind of extended, free-form rant about some super-deep topic.

I was keenly aware of this factor over the course of the interview, and so as I sat there alone in my office, with my Skype headset on, speaking to the voice at the other end of the ether about the problems of empire and the nature of the human condition (not my usual topic of conversation), I was really trying to hold it all together and make coherent, worthwhile points. If you've never been in this position—where you've got 1.5 hours worth of rope to hang yourself with, and no net—then you have no idea what a challenge it is to tell when you're making a point and when you're just thinking out loud. (All the previous interviews I've done have been one-topic affairs, where I could prepare beforehand.)

The end result of all this is that my conversation is rhythmically punctuated with verbal artifacts like "um..", "y'know…," "well…," and so on that are pretty much the stutters and stumbles of an amateur sweating and weaving on a high-wire above the circus floor.

At any rate, George did a great job of navigating all of this, and without him nudging me along it could've been much worse. So I hope you guys enjoy listening to me think out loud for an hour and a half—in spite of the amount of effort involved, it was a good experience and I'm glad I participated.

Oh, and the source of this post title is a term that I must've used at least five times in various contexts in the interview: "flip side." I think this jumped out at me mainly because it's not something I normally say.

Fox Entertainment Group announced its intention to get into Internet broadcasting this morning through a partnership with Internet TV service Brightcove. The group, which carries Fox, FX, and SPEED, will be hosting targeted, ad-supported content on Brightcove, which will then allow users to share and embed that content wherever they please. The partnership also allows Fox to syndicate its content through affiliates' web sites as well as social networks. HangZhou Night Net

Brightcove, in some ways, is akin to a YouTube for major content providers in that it allows them to make content available via a web page and syndicate it through other sites. Unlike YouTube, Brightcove allows its partners to choose whether or not their content can be embedded by users and allows the providers to plant advertising in their videos. Although the companies don't specify whether the content from Fox will be in the form of full shows or clips, initial inspection indicates that clips will be the norm.

Fox Digital Media VP David Baron said in a statement that the partnership would help the company in its goal to deliver its content to consumers in as many ways as possible. "Brightcove's tools and services enable us to quickly and easily deploy broadband video on our network Web sites while retaining control over the quality, brand experience, and monetization of our content," he added.

Notice the word "control," for that's what this YouTube-ish plan is all about. Entertainment companies like Fox would prefer to keep as much control as possible, and that includes control over advertising placement. As streaming video grows online, Fox and others will always want the option of working ad deals across their distribution channels, as opposed to turning it over to another ad rep, such as Google's folks at YouTube.

Some of Brightcove's other broadcast partners include Sky Broadcasting, Discovery, National Geographic, and MTV. Brightcove also inked a deal with CBS last month that would make the company the main syndication platform for all CBS News online. Unlike the deal with Fox, however, Brightcove's deal with CBS does not involve a user-embeddable Flash player. Fox's move to include one signals a certain level of comfort in allowing their content to be rebroadcast nearly anywhere, outside of (some of) its control.

Brightcove VP of marketing and advertising Adam Berry told Variety that while other networks may be trying to offer Internet-based content through their own solutions, such an endeavor could be limiting. "They're basically limited by the capabilities of their tech team," he told the magazine. "What this does is let the media companies focus on what they do best, creating great content and marketing that content."

Fox's deal with Brightcove to syndicate content online in this manner is among the first from the major TV networks. The announcement also comes just before the launch of the much-anticipated video sharing network announced by News Corp. in March. Those plans also involve providing free, ad-supported TV content through a number of partnerships with various syndication channels, and will launch sometime late summer/early fall with a laundry list of popular TV shows and movies.

The FCC believes that television violence could be regulated in a constitutional manner, and a recent report on the issue laid out some possible ways this might be done. One of the popular solutions is "time channeling," or allowing certain kinds of content only during certain hours. But does time channeling still make sense in an on-demand world? HangZhou Night Net

Given that this was one of the FCC's major proposed solutions to the problem of violence on TV, it's a question worth considering. Robert Corn-Revere, a First Amendment legal expert, recently weighed in on the matter at a Progress & Freedom Foundation panel discussion in Washington, DC. The transcript from that event has just become available, and in it Corn-Revere draws a parallel between "time channeling" and the French Maginot Line.

The Line, as any student of World War II history can recount, was meant to stop a direct German invasion of France, but it did not cover France's border with Belgium nor the approach through the Ardennes Forest, which was considered impassable. Germany's attack, when it came, came through Belgium and the Ardennes; the immense fortifications of the Maginot Line were irrelevant.

"Requiring time channeling for broadcasting is a bit like an electronic Maginot Line," said Corn-Revere. "We live in a world in which people watching television at the time it's broadcast is an increasingly unrealistic phenomenon. In the age of TiVo, even in the age of VCRs, it isn't a solution to say you are simply going to make the program appear later in the evening if that means that people will simply watch it when they’ve taped it or recorded it on a digital video recorder to watch later."

Time-shifting has been possible for years, but the rise of the DVR, P2P file-swapping, and the willingness of networks to stream shows from their web sites has made the process much simpler than programming a VCR ever was. While this certainly doesn't mean that time channeling won't keep plenty of kids away from plenty of violent content, it does look like a solution bound to become increasingly ineffective.

The FCC might also find strict limits placed on any authority it gets to regulate violent programming. The agency currently has the right to regulate indecent material, but the definition of indecency appeals to contemporary community standards; as these change, it becomes harder for the FCC to enforce older rules. We saw this in the recent appeals court decision allowing fleeting curse words even on network TV. The court's argument suggested that if curse words are good enough for Bush and Cheney, they are good enough for Bono.

Any regulation will also need to pass constitutional muster, something that has been hard to do for legislation on violence in video games. Though the FCC is confident it can set up a constitutional system for TV shows, most video game laws have been struck down by courts around the country.

The FCC could run into similar problems with respect to regulating violence. Many parents do want to keep their kids away from violent content (FCC Commissioner Adelstein says in the report that his own children can be deeply troubled by trailers for horror movies), but the fact that so many people watch violent television shows and movies suggests that there's a pretty high tolerance for solving problems with a gun. That could mean that a "community standards"-based definition may actually regulate very little content.

Last week NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton argued that law enforcement resources are "misaligned." Cotton says it's wrong to focus on real property theft and potentially deadly crimes when cops could be out enforcing intellectual property laws. HangZhou Night Net

Cotton wasn't finished. He filed a response on behalf of NBC Universal to the FCC's call for comments last week on the broadband industry and net neutrality which says, in effect, that net neutrality is a waste of time. The FCC should be focusing on… you guessed it, piracy!

Cotton had harsh words for the government's lack of involvement in shutting down P2P and BitTorrent file sharing. "It is inconceivable that the U.S. government would stand by mutely and permit any other legitimate U.S. business to be hijacked in this fashion," he wrote. "Would the government permit Federal Express or UPS to knowingly operate delivery services in which 60-70% of the payload consisted of contraband, such as illegal drugs or stolen goods?"

Cotton also argues that the entire net neutrality debate is essentially the result of unfettered piracy online, as he cites a study which claims that two-thirds of traffic online stems from piracy. Remove the pirates, and the congestion disappears, he suggests.

Cotton then argued that the DMCA, whose Safe Harbor provisions make sites like YouTube possible and also protects ISPs from piracy which occurs on their networks, is ill-equipped to handle today's P2P threat. Service providers apply the minimum amount of effort to meet the DMCA standard and sometimes even jeopardize that by failing to enforce their own user agreements, he argued.

The only solution, in Cotton's view, is to make ISPs take action against piracy on their networks, using any legal means necessary. "The Commission should make unmistakably clear, as part of its regulations governing broadband industry practices, that broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity to transfer pirated content," he wrote. Such efforts could include better takedown notification practices as well as "using increasingly sophisticated bandwidth management tools."

While Cotton didn't name AT&T in his filing, this kind of approach is exactly what AT&T is planning to implement at the behest of the nation's major entertainment trade groups, including the MPAA and the RIAA. Many people consider this to be synonymous with spying, and still others object to the notion that ISPs need to become copyright enforcement cops for the entertainment industry. One thing is certain: there is no "anti-piracy" switch that can be flipped. Technological means will snare innocent users and cross into very questionable privacy grounds.

Cotton is completely correct when he asserts that Congress didn't really know what they were getting into when they penned the DMCA. However, few in 1998 could have imagined that Congress would someday be asked to mandate that ISPs actively filter their network traffic for copyrighted material, yet this is precisely what Cotton seems to believe Congress should have done.

However, we need to look no further than US colleges and universities to see why this approach can be a big headache. College IT administrators already see themselves as starting a costly "arms race" with pirates who are always one step ahead of their technological tracking means.

The entire filing is available as a PDF.

Movie rental chain Blockbuster has decided to make Blu-ray the next-generation HD format of choice in its 1,700 corporate-owned stores. Starting in July, Blockbuster outlets will begin carrying over 170 Blu-ray titles and will add additional titles as they are released from the studios. HangZhou Night Net

Last November, Blockbuster began piloting HD rentals in 250 of its stores, offering discs in both HD DVD and Blu-ray format. According to the chain, Blu-ray rentals "significantly" outpaced HD DVD rentals. Rentals aside, HD DVD leads Blu-ray in terms of the number of standalone players sold so far, but when the Sony PlayStation 3 and its Blu-ray optical drive is added to the mix, the amount of hardware in the wild capable of playing Blu-ray outnumbers that of HD DVD. Combine the rental and hardware numbers with the greater number of studios backing Blu-ray, and it's an easy decision for Blockbuster.

"We intend to meet the demands of our customers and based on the trends we're seeing, we're expanding our Blu-ray inventory to ensure our stores reflect the right level of products," said Blockbuster SVP for merchandising Matthew Smith in a statement. In so many words, Blockbuster sees a brighter future for Blu-ray and has a finite amount of shelf space available in its stores for HD content.

Blockbuster's decision is not a indication of the imminent demise of HD DVD, but it doesn't do the format any favors either. While both next-gen disc formats will be available via Blockbuster's mail rental service, spur-of-the-moment HD rentals at the chain will have to be Blu-ray only.

Blockbuster is keeping the door cracked open for HD DVD. "While it is still too early to say which high-definition format will become the industry standard, we will continue to closely monitor customer rental patterns both at our stores and online, so we can adjust our inventory mix accordingly and ensure that Blockbuster is offering customers the most convenient access to the movies they want, in the format they want," said Smith.

Blockbuster's decision is a win for Blu-ray and bad news for HD DVD. Consumers considering plunking down some dough for an HD player will be hearing the message that if they want to be able to rent HD movies, Blu-ray is the only option. If that message takes hold, HD DVD price cuts and rebates may not be enough to convince consumers otherwise.

The Dock could have been a contender. There could have been extended menus everywhere, like the iTunes Dockling that allows for control of the application without giving it focus. There could have been application notification like Mail and its red badge of e-mail totals. Back in the early days of OS X, there were also Docklings for system notification, like Airport signal strength, but then came the great Menuling Revolt. Mac OS Graybeards screamed their spatial heads off for a clock in the Menu Bar, as if that could make up for what was done to the Finder in the basement of The Campus in Cupertino. HangZhou Night Net

It didn't, of course, but Menulings did kill the Dock. At least that's my conspiracy theory.

For whatever reason, the most basic and obvious functionality remains missing from the Dock to this day. While you can add folders, navigate them, and even drop files into them, there are still no spring-loaded folders for the Dock. When you insert a disc or mount a volume, it can show up on the Desktop and screw with your layout or appear in the Sidebar of the Finder, even when it's not mounted, like the iDisk. However, if you want to see a volume appear and disappear from the Dock, you are out of luck.

Until now.

Greg Weston has done what Apple engineers could not—or were not allowed to do—simply because he could.

So I was reading Macintouch on the morning of May
16, 2007, and saw someone complain about the hassle of getting at
volume icons that may be hidden under other windows. I thought a
solution might be a fun project. Here's the result. It's fairly small
and very focussed.

Volumizer is a nifty System Preference that has exactly two checkboxes: one to display volumes in the Dock and one to display volumes in the Menu Bar. When it resides in the Menu Bar, it has that ugly, little drive icon and a drop-down menu that lists mounted volumes. Select one and a Finder window opens. Hover the pointer and a tooltip showing the path appears.

Unfortunately, you cannot eject a volume from the Menu Bar list. If you want that kind of functionality, you might want to look at Ejector. However, if you want to be reminded that putting your computer to sleep while a share is mounted and a clean desktop, then Volumizer could be functionality you've been waiting on from Apple for seven years.

To quote Steve Jobs, "Boom." Just like that, your disk images, optical discs, iPods, and shares will finally be where they should have always been, in the Dock. The extended menu of each volume has an eject option too. Unfortunately, volumes can neither be navigated like folders in the Dock, nor can files be dragged and dropped on to the them. Also, volumes always appear from the right, left of the dividing bar, just like applications. This means that volumes will be interspersed with applications as they are opened and closed. Arranging volumes and keeping them in the Dock isn't a solution, either. Moving the iDisk to the left and keeping it in the Dock after ejecting first produced a faded icon with a question mark, then a normal icon, but one that could not be mounted by clicking. Besides, the whole point is to clearly see what volumes are mounted. Perhaps a future version could place volumes on the left or right automatically—hint, hint.

Nonetheless, Volumizer is awesome, and it's donationware. This means you can be a person of questionable ethics and get it for free, or toss a couple of bucks the way of a developer who has done what Apple should have done years ago.