On Tuesday, the FBI announced the indictment of a former technology director accused of hacking into the system at a Houston organ bank and deleting patient files.
The indictment alleges that Danielle Duann, 50, illegally accessed and damaged LifeGift Organ Donation Center's database in November 2005, shortly after she was fired as director of information technology for the company. She is alleged to have deleted organ donation database records and accounting invoice files from the network. LifeGift said that all of the records were restored from a backup and that no patients were put into jeopardy.
At the time of her dismissal, LifeGift revoked of all Duann's passwords and privileges to the network. On November 7 and 8, 2005, she allegedly re-entered the network and deleted files containing organ donor information and other related organ and tissue recovery work, according to a Department of Justice press release.
If convicted, Duann faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
When it comes to the virtual world Second Life , we're definitely in the middle of one of the predictable hype backlash cycles that often surround hot new technologies.
Since the fall of 2006, when Second Life hit 1 million registered users , it has since grown to nearly 10 million. Of course, that number doesn't reflect how many actual users there are .
But regardless of the numbers of users, the hype part of the cycle really picked up steam when the media noticed that a lot of big-name companies were opening up shop in Second Life . And now, the backlash has a lot to do with the question of whether those companies are finding any kind of value in the virtual world.
Many are asking the question of whether the hype was warranted, and vice versa, whether the backlash is fair.
Now, reports Virtual World News , the well-known analyst firm Yankee Group Research has weighed in. It issued a report on Monday announcing that "Hype of Second Life Far Outweighs Its Ability to Impact Mainstream Interactivity."
The Yankee press release doesn't waste time getting to the point: "Yankee Group today revealed that the hype surrounding Second Life doesn't match its actual marketplace impact."
The firm's analysis is based on the idea that user time spent in-world has slowed considerably from its peak last year. Compared with popular social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.com, Yankee says, Second Life simply cannot keep up.
For anyone who knows Second Life , of course, its myriad problems --difficult user interface, constant platform meltdowns, regular problems with lag and more--are a fact of life. Those who stick around do so in spite of those issues.
But one thing that stands out with the Yankee report is that the firm has declared that one of the major bottlenecks for Second Life is that it is too "PC-centric," particularly in an "increasingly mobile world."
The theory here is that Second Life , and presumably other virtual worlds and social-networking sites, won't grow to true relevancy unless they can get off the PC and onto mobile devices.
Whether that's true is debatable. But it is an interesting point, especially with the advent of devices like the iPhone , which could one day allow users to take their Second Life with them wherever they go.
For now, however, what's clear is that there are a lot of people looking for reasons to discount Second Life , and that's going to be true until its publisher, Linden Lab, fixes some of the biggest problems.
Google reportedly has asked classified advertising sites, including Adicio and CareerBuilder, to give the search engine direct feeds of listings, according to the PaidContent.org Web site , which cited an alert from newsletter Classified Intelligence Report . So far, the report says, the sites have not agreed to cooperate. "Analysts, including us, predict that advertisers will move to free sites if they become convinced that they will reach an audience as large--or larger--on a search engine than on a paid advertising site," CIR wrote.
The report comes on the heels of an article last week in the London Sunday Times that Google and Yahoo had approached Amsterdam's Trader Classified Media about a buyout.
Classified sites have to weigh the benefits of gaining a larger audience against the potential negative impact of losing control, wrote Nathan Weinberg in a blog on the InsideGoogle Web site . "If Google has a feed of all the major listing sites, and grabs more traffic than they do, then it can start its own listing service and cut off the rest of them at the knees," he writes. "Google can't compete with established, massive classified sites, unless those sites are shooting themselves in the foot every day with a crappy user experience."
Weinberg goes on to predict that Google will release a travel search engine that will put the established airline ticket and hotel search sites out of business within a year. "Those sites are all terribly designed, and a Google-style site would be like a flesh-eating virus to those sites."
A Google spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor .
More than 60 percent of companies worldwide are holding off on wireless and remote computing because of security concerns, according to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit published on Tuesday.
The survey of about 240 executives was sponsored by Symantec , which just happens to sell products that could relief such security concerns.
The researchers also asked how many companies actually use software to secure mobile data. In Western Europe 55 percent said they did, compared to 44 percent in Asia-Pacific and just 36 percent in North America, according to the survey.
Nearly half of all respondents said security products are too expensive and complex. Five businesses had already experienced financial loss due to attacks via mobile data platforms, according to the researchers.
Sellers of security products like to sponsor surveys that indicate a need for their products. Last year, Symantec also did a survey on smart phone owners and viruses .
Mobile insecurity is a hot topic, with several vendors vying for market share in that emerging market. Having security software on laptops and PDAs seems sensible these days, but it is still early days for the mobile phone threat and experts have said the threat is overblown .
In the ol' days, people gathered around the TV to watch a shuttle launch and then gushed out loud with excitement after takeoff. Today, as Discovery rocketed into the air at 7:39 a.m. PDT, we were just as likely to be watching the countdown online and then waxing poetic via the Net.Credit: Getty Images
The following is a sampling of bloggers' emotional reactions to Discovery's successful launch, which marked NASA's return to manned spaceflight more than two years after the Columbia shuttle disintegrated while returning to Earth.
Blog community response:
"I just watched the space shuttle Discovery launch. I am just as excited about this as I was watching the first moon landing . Seriously, it gave me goose bumps...Good luck Discovery; May you complete your mission and come back home safely." -- Celebrating Women...for the Real World
"I watched our return to manned spaceflight with a lump in my throat and fists tightly clenched this morning. She was beautiful! I held my breath it seemed for that first eight minutes that are so critical and watched through the camera's eye as the earth fell away behind her. Amazing and stunningly, achingly beautiful...I cried." -- Life Lessons
"We all become kids when we see something as spectacular as the space shuttle lifting off...Sure, there are bigger problems to solve down here on Earth, but we choose to explore outer space, simply, because it's there. And every time one of our manned shuttles escapes the bonds of Earth to reach the heavens, we honor those who died exploring what God has created beyond the stars." -- Father Manny's Holy Blog
CARLSBAD, Calif.--In the field of start-ups looking to replicate the computer operating system on the Web, Ghost is just one of many .
Like others, it sees an opportunity to not just re-create Windows on the Web, but perhaps to even replace the traditional operating system. I see some interesting notions, but a lot of challenges in these models.
But what struck me most about the company is its unique workforce. Ghost has a few workers in Israel, while most of the company is located in the West Bank town of Ramallah . The idea is to show the world as well as those close to home that Israelis and Palestinians can work together.
At this week's D: All Things Digital conference, I had a chance to catch up with the company's business development head, Ori Weinroth . In the video below, we talked about the challenges and opportunities of having such a unique workforce.
For instance, the Israeli contingent can't visit Ghost's offices in Ramallah, while it is difficult for those in the West Bank to get permission to come to the Israeli offices, near Tel Aviv. Video conferencing and a meet-up spot in a sort of no-man's-land are two of the ways that the company tries to manage that.
Sony BMG, one of the top four recording companies, is releasing more DRM-free songs through a partnership with Dada USA, a mobile-entertainment company based in Italy.
Songs from Sony BMG artists such as the Foo Fighters, Kelly Clarkson, and The Strokes, will be offered through a new music service, Dada Entertainment , where users can pay $9.99 to obtain 15 tokens. Each token can be redeemed for a music download or ringtone or other content such as games or wallpaper.
The unprotected MP3 files can be transferred to an iPod, mobile phone, or any other digital music-playing device, the companies said Tuesday. Over-the-air downloads aren't ready yet, but Dada said in a statement that it expects to launch that in coming months.
The problems are obvious with this one. Music subscription services such as Napster offer unlimited music for about $13 a month. And the subscription services don't restrict users to a song library exclusively of Sony BMG songs .
The good news is the music found at Napster is laden with DRM. The songs from this jointly operated service aren't. They are also cheaper than the downloads at iTunes and most other online music stores.
Perhaps most importantly, this is another example of a major label experimenting with songs stripped of copy-protection software.