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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!

The brains behind Joost aren't content to just serve up video to PC users. The company last week began talking about their plans for world domination via embedded consumer electronics support, which would include building Joost support into televisions, if the P2P Internet TV company gets its way. HangZhou Night Net

A move away from the PC to other consumer electronics would be attractive. Although Joost's channel lineup is impressive at this early stage, the service faces the same obstacles of other online video services: it's centered around the PC instead of the living room TV. Rarely is it enjoyable to sit around watching TV shows on a computer monitor while sitting in an office chair. We're all accustomed to watching TV in our living rooms while lounging on plush couches with refreshments. While there are people who can do the Internet-on-my-TV thing with home theater PCs, Joost knows that to really capture viewer's attention (and more importantly, advertisers' attention), bringing Joost into our living rooms is a necessity.

Joost's new CEO Michelangelo Volpi, hired earlier this month, told the New York Times that "Joost is a piece of software and it can reside on a variety of platforms… It could be on a television set-top box. Or potentially it could be embedded in a TV set with an Ethernet connection, or on a mobile phone, or in some alternative device that might come out in the future."

Switching rooms won't be Joost's only struggle. Akimbo, which offers video content to televisions and computers over the Internet, has been doing it for three years with investments from AT&T and Cisco, two companies already deeply rooted in telecom and internet communications. Other companies like Sling Media are focusing on ways to bridge the PC-to-TV gap by remaining media and service agnostic.

Of course, Joost is free and Akimbo and the Slingbox are not, so the company hopes to tackle the competition by making Joost software freely available on televisions and other consumer electronic products, similar to the way Skype was able to get its software embedded on devices made by Cisco (Linksys), Netgear, and Belkin.

This will be a difficult battle, however. Joost will need to convince Sony, LG, Samsung, and other TV manufacturers to include their software on a television, which is akin to asking for a free ride down the road to big advertising dollars. Presumably any Joost hook-up with the likes of Sony will require some kind of revenue-sharing deal, otherwise the door will remain closed until if/when Joost is so popular that supporting it becomes a "feature." Given the fact that Sony has its own plans for streaming Internet video, it's going to take a lot of money or interest to get them involved. Joost could have better luck with set-top boxes, DVRs and products like the AppleTV—the latter of just added YouTube as a feature.

Joost's move isn't just about getting its service on the TV, though. The beta program has run into quality problems as it ramps up, so the company likely hopes that getting more devices on the 'net that speak Joost-ese will help performance. Joost is P2P-based, much like Skype, and having more nodes can only improve performance. BitTorrent is working on consumer electronics support for largely the same reason. More on that later today.

Joost's new CEO comes with a background in selling network infrastructure equipment to major ISPs, so this move is really no coincidence.

Joost expects to release the full version of their software, which features channels ranging from Comedy Central to National Geographic, to PCs next year, and hopefully to other products shortly thereafter.

Further reading:

Would you watch Joost if it came with your cable box?Joost everywhere, embedded in hardware

Maine has become the first state in the US to pass network neutrality legislation, although the resolution that was finally passedis significantly weaker thanthe initial bill that was considered. HangZhou Night Net

The initial bill, LD 1675, had real teeth to it, laying down the conditions under which Internet service providers could offer products. Lawful content had been to be delivered in a nondiscriminatory fashion, though providers were allowed to charge different prices for different connection speeds or bandwidth caps.

That bill was amended, though, and the amendment rewrote the entire bill, turning it into a much weaker resolution that essentially does nothing but express concern and call for a report. The state will keep a special eye on the FCC and its actions regarding network neutrality but will do no actual regulating itself. The Office of the Public Advocate needs only to submit a report to the Legislature by next February.

Despite the major setback, backers of the bill considered it a victory. "Maine is once again leading the way in protecting the rights of its citizens," said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. "This resolution will help reestablish the internet as the free and open arena of democracy it was always intended to be."

Well, probably not. The resolution will actually do little, but it does show that the issue is on the legislative radar screen now, and next year's report could provide the impetus for actual legislation. Network neutrality has also been championed at the national level by Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican. Snowe introduced a network neutrality bill earlier this year in conjunction with Byron Dorgan (D-ND). That bill is currently sitting in committee.

As humans continue to burn through our non-renewable petroleum resources, researchers are continuously searching for a renewable petrochemical replacement. While there is much talk about the various forms of alternative energy, many non-energy related products also rely almost exclusively on the petroleum industry. New work published in last week's edition of Science carried out by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) Institute for Interfacial Catalysis reports on a way to use plants not as a direct biofuel—such as ethanol—but as a way to produce a valuable intermediate for use in a variety of traditional petrochemical applications. HangZhou Night Net

The work reportsa novel way to convert the sugars from biomass, specifically fructose and glucose, into a chemical known as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). HMF is an important compound because it is "a versatile intermediate between biomass-based carbohydrate chemistry and petroleum-based industrial organic chemistry." HMF can represent both a replacement for petroleum based building blocks heavily used in the plastics and fine chemicals industry; and perhaps more importantly, is a key ingredient in a recently discovered process that produces liquid alkanes from renewable biomass.

Traditional methods for converting biomass to HMF have been limited to using fructose as the feed stock,employed acid catalysts, and are often done using water as the solvent. This led to problems since the acid catalysts would lead to a number of side reactions whose products were difficult to separate from HMF, and the water allowed other undesired reactions to take place. The difficult separation and low selectivity to HMF made these methods less than economically favorable, so they would never see the light of day in a full scale industrial process. The method discovered by Zhang and coworkers at PNNL used an ionic liquid solvent—specifically 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride [AMIM]Cl, where alkyl was octyl, butyl, or ethyl—along with a metal catalyst (CrCl2) to produce high yields of HMF from feed stocks of both fructose and glucose. In addition to suppressing some of the unwanted side reactions that occur when water is used as a solvent, [EMIM]Cl is reusable and produces none of the polluted wastewater that result from other methods of converting fructose into HMF.

In addition to developing the process, the researchers attempted to answer the question of why the CrCl2 acts as such a good catalyst when the many other metal salts they tried did not fare as well. They were not able to come to a clear answer to this, but did put forth some chemical mechanisms that explained how the conversions worked in conjunction with the ionic liquid and catalyst. Even without a detailed understanding of the molecular why, this work opens a new way of using biomass to lessen our dependence on non-renewable petroleum. According to Zhang, "the opportunities are endless,and the chemistry is starting to get interesting."

Security researchers at Symantec have verified that a large-scale web attack targeting Italian web sites and their users is underway. The attackers exploited vulnerabilities at the ISP and web hosting provider level to add snippets of IFRAME code to hundreds of popular Italian web sites, including those of IT companies, car rental firms, tax services, city councils, and hotel and travel destinations. The compromised web sites attempt to use exploits in unpatched versions of Internet Explorer, QuickTime, Windows 2000, Firefox, WinZip, and Opera, in order to install malware packages on end users' computers. HangZhou Night Net

The attackers used a "commercial" malware kit called MPack, which is sold by a Russian gang. Currently at version 0.86, MPack provides would-be malware installers with a complete package that can be installed on any web server that runs PHP with an SQL database. The owners of MPack have been selling it to other criminal organizations for between $700 and $1,000 a pop, with additional exploit modules available for between $50 and $150. For an additional $30, the MPack owners will include a feature that helps prevent the malware from being detected by antivirus programs.

Once MPack is installed, the attackers need to compromise popular web sites (as was done in the Italian attack) in order to inject IFRAME code. The site's HTML files do not need to be directly compromised, as the code is added dynamically when the page is sent by the server—this makes it less likely that web site owners will notice that anything suspicious is going on.

The IFRAME code then adds a request to the MPack server itself, which analyzes the HTTP request header received from the user's web browser. It uses this information to determine which exploit it will try to use against the user. The MPack server stores data about which exploits have been tried and which were successful, and even provides the attacker with a handy "management console" to keep track of how many hosts have been compromised. MPack was first discovered for sale in a Russian forum in December 2006, and the security firm PandaLabs has provided a detailed analysis (PDF) on its web site.

The rise of off-the-shelf malware packages is another indication that compromising users' computers has become a huge business and especially attractive for criminal organizations. The risk of detection and capture is low: the attackers typically install MPack on a compromised web server, and the malware itself can be hosted on any number of servers. Even if an MPack server is discovered and shut down, any users who have infected by the exploits that MPack uses will continue to generate revenue from whatever spyware the attackers choose to install on the compromised systems.

The advent of directed attacks on popular web sites makes it harder for users to practice skeptical computing, as one does not typically expect to get attacked by a popular tourist destination's web site. The only solution is for both web site operators and end users to ensure that their software—including third-party software—is kept up to date.

New statistics from Net Applications, a company that measures browser, search engine, and operating system metrics, show that for the first time since January of this year, Firefox actually lost market share. Based on statistics from its own client base, Net Applications shows that Firefox fell almost a full percentage point to 14.54 percent—the largest drop in market share the browser has seen yet. HangZhou Night Net

For May, Firefox's loss may have been Internet Explorer and Safari's gain. Internet Explorer accrued roughly half of a percent (0.64) in market share while Safari rose from 4.59 to 4.82 percent. According to Net Applications' statistics, this is the first time since January that Internet Explorer has seen an increase in market share.

In the world of operating systems, both Windows Vista and Mac OS X/MacIntel saw jumps, rising from 3.02 and 6.21 percent to 3.74 and 6.46 percent respectively. Windows 2000 was also notable, ringing in at 4.31 percent. Not surprisingly, Windows XP is still leading the pack with 82.02 percent in May.

Now that Safari is running on Windows, the browser numbers may take some twists and turns in June. According to Apple, at least 1 million users have downloaded Safari for Windows, and that could add a little spice to what has been fairly predictable usage statistics. Do you think the "1 million users" will show in next month's numbers? Is anyone actually using the Safari beta on a regular basis? On a different note, how many of you have switched from Firefox to IE7? I've talked to several people who now prefer IE7 over the 'Fox, so I'm not surprised that Mozilla's starting to lose users.

HangZhou Night Net

NinjaBee has released two games on the Live Arcade already: Cloning Clyde and the addicting Outpost Kaloki X. This week, the developer come back with the turn-based tactical game Band of Bugs. The game promises gameplay deep enough for the more demanding audience yet inviting enough for casual gamers. That's a tall order, but let's not be downbeat. The feature list is impressive.

Choose to play through a story-based campaign, stand-alone missions or skirmishesStory-based campaign:
Action and adventure in a single-player
campaign story! Follow the adventures of young Maal as he leads an
elite team of bug warriors to protect the kingdom from evil insect
enemies.Stand-alone missions: Try your hand at one of these unique single-level scenarios. These short battles include
a background story, unique events and custom goals.Skirmish: Test your
skills on a variety of individual maps, including custom maps designed
by the player with
the in-game editor! Select a game type (Elimination, Capture, or
Escape) and choose to control any party in the battle to demonstrate
your superior tactical skill.Four unique multiplayer modes for up to 4 players either locally or over Xbox LIVE, including:
Elimination:The first team to lose all the bugs in one party loses the battle!Capture:Capture (or defend) a strong point.Escape:Reach an escape point, or stop the enemy from reaching it.Mission: A unique scenario with custom story, events, and goals.Challenge friends to Spider Hunter, a more relaxed game that allows up to 8 people to join and leave on the
fly!Use the game’s built-in
level editor to design your own custom scenarios for play against
others over Xbox LIVE (a first for an Xbox
LIVE Arcade game!)Xbox LIVE Vision camera support in all Xbox LIVE multiplayer modes.Mystery leaderboard where players earn points for items they are not told about – Players can check the board
and figure out what will help them get to the top of the leaderboard!

There seems to be a lot of meat here, and if the mechanics hold up to the laundry list of neat features we're in for a treat. The game will go for 800 points ($10). We'll give you a heads up when the game is released.

Although WWDC is technically over, discussion about the information that came out of it is far from it. You guys have yet to see even half of the videos that we have queued up for you—trust me, they get better in both quality and content. One of the videos we're prepping up is a spliced-together version of all the developers we talked to, answering the same few questions. One of those questions was "What do you think the real reason was for Apple to avoid opening up the iPhone to developers?" HangZhou Night Net

And I've gotta say, Mac developers are an optimistic bunch. So very, very optimistic. By far, the most common answers to the question were either that Apple "wasn't ready" and that they had decided to give devs something to work with too late before launch, or that Apple simply wanted to release a super-solid product with no possibility for anything to go wrong upon launch. In all cases, everyone said that they believed in their hearts that the "true" SDK was "coming."

It's endearing. Many of these devs are friends of mine, for whom I hold a lot of respect. Who wouldn't want to develop something for the iPhone? I'd like to remain optimistic alongside this collection of extremely bright folks, but some discussions with close friends of mine inside Apple make me think twice about that optimism.

An old friend of mine from college (who, as you would expect, has requested to remain anonymous) is an Apple engineer who is not on the iPhone team himself but has regular interaction with folks from the team. "It's not that it's not ready," he told us when asked about the non-SDK announcement at the keynote. "The issue here is security, right? Everything on the iPhone interacts directly with the kernel, and so there's a major concern about letting unsigned apps from developers just go in there and start interacting with the kernel along with everything else. Sure, Google's apps (such as Google Maps) are technically third-party, but they hand over signed code that we know we can trust. Not everyone can do that.

"Then, what happens when customers start installing these apps and they don't all get along? Suddenly now you have a phone—one of the most important devices some people own—that might be crashing and preventing calls from being made and received. Not only is that annoying to the customer, that's a lot for the companies' customer service to deal with. And to have to tell people 'well, it's not our fault, it's actually this third-party app that you installed' doesn't always go over so well with the general populace," he added.

Then came the million-dollar question and the slightly-less-than-million-dollar answer. Will there ever be an iPhone SDK that resides outside of Safari?

"This is just my opinion, and I could very well be proven wrong in the future," he warned. "But based on what I know, I don't personally believe that there will ever be an open iPhone SDK. Not like the one everyone seems to want, anyway."

Don't shoot the messenger, folks.

Immersion has been in the news in recent years largely on account of their legal beatdown of Sony. The haptics feedback company took both Microsoft and Sony to court over the presence of haptic feedback technology in their controllers back in 2002, and Microsoft settled for $26 million and a few surprises (more on that in a minute). Sony, on the other hand, defended their PlayStation 2 DualShock controller, but once the smoke and appeals cleared, Sony was on the hook for more than $90 million. HangZhou Night Net

When Sony claimed that the lack of haptic feedback in the PS3 controller was due to "rumble" being "last-gen," we pointed to the lawsuit as evidence that bad blood was ultimately fueling the decision. Curiously, once the settlement was in place, Sony said that they "look forward to exploring with Immersion exciting new ways to bring the largest and best range of gameplay experiences to our customers." As it turns out, some gamers like rumble, and it looks like rumble may be returning to the PS3.

The bad blood may have been cleared up between Sony and Immersion, but there's a new fight brewing between Microsoft and Immersion. The company is suing Immersion for breach of contract, having failed to pay proper consideration to Microsoft for a very interesting agreement between the two parties.

"We entered into a binding licensing agreement with Immersion and are seeking to have that agreement honored," said Microsoft associate general counsel Steve Aeschbacher in a statement. "Our request to the court is that all companies and industry partners should play by the same rules and that the binding agreement we signed with Immersion be honored."

Just what hasn't been honored? The complaint details the Sublicense Agreement (SLA) that Microsoft and Immersion entered into in 2003, following the settlement between the two parties. According to the complaint, the SLA entitles Microsoft to a minimum $15 million payment as a result of Immersion's settlement with Sony. Microsoft and Immersion apparently agreed to share the bounty that would stem from a court battle with Sony, and Microsoft says they have yet to be paid. In fact, Microsoft had a stepped arrangement which provided that additional compensation should be paid to the company if the total settlement amount surpassed $100 million, which Microsoft believes it has. How can that be true if the Sony settlement was for just $90 million?

Microsoft accuses Immersion of having failed to promptly disclose the full terms of their settlement with Sony, and they also accuses the company of "actively attempting to characterize its agreements with Sony as something other that [sic] what they are—a settlement." The accusation is that Immersion categorized part of the settlement as "licensing" of new technology. Microsoft sees any licensing stemming from the suit as being part of the settlement proper, and they want their cut.

Thus Microsoft says that in addition to the original $15 million "base obligation" owed as a result of the SLA, the agreement also entitles Microsoft to compensation for an additional amount to be determined at trial.

Several hours after publication, Immersion responded to our requests for comment. You can read Immersion's side of the story over at Opposable Thumbs.

I made a bit of a pledge to myself a little over a month ago: I would get back into shape. I recently moved into my late twenties and wanted to feel better about my fitness level and less winded after somewhat routine athletic activity. At one point in my life, I was in good shape. I was competing in athletics. I just lacked the motivation that working with a team once offered. HangZhou Night Net

So like any good geek, I spent money as a means for motivation. I went out and bought myself an Nike+iPod Sport Kit. It's not a terribly large amount of money at $29.95, but the combination of technology and a small investment was enough to get me out and running. I have now completed my first month of training and thought I would take some time over the next week and talk about some of the things that have made my running experiences more "enjoyable" (or as enjoyable as running can possibly be). Sure the kit has been out for a while, but if this inspires even one person to start running again, then score.

I ran into a problem almost immediately with my Nike+iPod Sport Kit: like so many, I don't fit into Nike's shoes. If you don't know already, most Nike running shoes have a divot taken out of the insole so you can place the sensor portion of the kit inside the shoe. I had a few different options: I could cut a hole into the insole of my shoes, I could "tie" the sensor into the laces, or I could buy a pouch for the sensor. Being what some may consider frugal, I decided to lace the device into my shoes: it took only a few days before I gave up on this tactic. The sensor would slip around no matter how tightly it was tied in, and there was always that uneasy feeling that it would squirt out of my shoe completely. Add this to the inconsistency of the distances I was running, and I was ready to pony up a nominal amount of money for a pouch.

The pouch that I bought was made by Grantwood Technology and cost me around $7.00 shipped from Amazon. It is simply a pouch with a black with a white logo on the front. When laced into your sneakers, the opening faces your laces, so there is nowhere for the sensor to go which equates to peace of mind.

I had an initial concern when I received the unit: at the time I wore my running shoes for more then just running and had to take the sensor out of my shoe after each run to save battery life. I was worried that with the way the pouch laced into the shoe, I wouldn't be able to get the sensor out without unlacing my entire shoe. It turned out that my fear was unfounded, and the sensor was easily enough removed. Since then I've gone to running-only shoes, Saucony Hurricane 8s, and I am glad I did. I'm also glad that I don't have to squeeze my feet into the sausage casings that are Nike's shoe line.

AT&T has quietly begun offering DSL service for $10 per month for new customers. Offered as part of the concessions the telecom made to the Federal Communications Commission in order to gain approval for its merger with BellSouth, the speed is nothing to get excited about: 768Kbps down and 128Kbps up. HangZhou Night Net

AT&T is also doing little to publicize the new offering. In fact, I was only able to discover any reference to the low-price service by clicking on the Terms and Conditions link at he bottom of AT&T's residential high-speed Internet product page. A note on AT&T Yahoo! High-Speed Internet buried six paragraphs down says that the "basic speed ($10.00)" tier is available to new customers only, those who have not subscribed to AT&T or BellSouth DSL during the past 12 months, and the service requires a one-year contract.

Customers must also order phone service to get the budget-priced DSL service; those looking for cheap, naked DSL should look elsewhere. Those living in BellSouth's former territory can get naked DSL for the next two-and-a-half years, however.

Along with the budget high-speed Internet and naked DSL, AT&T also promised to maintain a "neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service" while also giving up its rights to the 2.5GHz spectrum. (WiMAX provider Clearwire recently completed the purchase of AT&T's unused 2.5GHz holdings.) In addition, AT&T must offer broadband to 100 percent of all residential living units in its territory, with 85 percent of that delivered by wire.

As is the case with the naked DSL offering, AT&T is only required to offer the $10 per month tier for the next two-and-a-half years. After that, the company is free to make whatever changes it wants to the service.

It's only $5 cheaper than AT&T's current lowest-priced service, but at $10 per month, the service could appeal to budget-minded consumers—especially those who are paying about that amount for dial-up service. More importantly for AT&T, it gives the company another platform from which to pitch its U-Verse broadband and IPTV service. After two and a half years of 768Kbps service, U-Verse may look very attractive to lower-tier customers.