Buzz Out Loud: Ep. 950: Hackers brave bats and dragons
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Buzz Out Loud: Ep. 950: Hackers brave bats and dragons

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AT&T had an outage yesterday morning in the bay area due to fiber-optical cables being cut. This didn't just affect landlines, but cell phones as well. Rafe describes the dangers hackers would face in trying to cut those cables. We also estimate the distance to New York as 12 worms, and give a plus-five Holy Avenger sword salute to Dave Arneson.

[ Music ] >> Today is Friday, April 10, 2009. >> I'm Tom Merit. >> I'm Rafe Needleman. >> I'm Nicole Lee. >> And I'm Jason Howell. >> Welcome to Buzz Out Loud's CNET podcast of indeterminate length. It is episode 950, just 50 away from episode 1,000. Think we'll make it? >> Closing in. >> Nah, we'll probably get cancelled like, 999. >> Oh. >> Natalie Del Conti has glass in her foot. >> Not glass on her foot, in her foot. >> She stepped -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> She's at the doctor. You don't believe her? >> No, I totally do -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> I feel sorry for her because they couldn't pull the glass out. So it's possible she has to stick with the glass until Monday in her foot. >> No doctor in New York that can pull the glass? Anyway. >> Anyway, there's glass. >> Now when this happened to the guy who was filming -- he played one of the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, and he ran into the lake and he got glass through his foot, you know what happened? They sent a helicopter and they took him to a hospital and they had him back on the set in, like, ten minutes. >> I know, really -- come on CBS. Where's the CBS medicopter. >> Exactly. >> Natalie refused to ride in it, that's why. Because she fears helicopters. It all makes sense now. >> [Inaudible] and not hotel-copter. >> And if she had been in the Bay Area which she was not, she wouldn't have even been able to call for the meda copter yesterday, because yesterday morning around San Jose and Santa Clara about a thousand people lost their phone service, and that includes cell phone service, not just land lines. >> Now this -- when you talk about a hack, this is literally a hack. Somebody hacked through a fiber optic cable with a -- >> With a cleaver. >> With a hacksaw. [Inaudible] you know , none of this, like, go script hitting nonsense, this is like somebody opening up a manhole, climbing down the ladder, fighting off the bats and the dragons, and sawing through a cable to disrupt phone service. Not not just in one place, but two. So there was a coordinated attack here and AT&T -- >> Well, we don't know that there was a coordinated attack. >> No. Just random that two people went down -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> There's no -- they don't know who did it. In fact, AT&T has announced a $100,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for these attacks. >> So this was done in two locations, intersection of Monterey Highway. Wow. >> I'm thinking mole men. >> Mole men? >> Mole men? They gnawed through the cables. >> Gnaw through -- >> Gnawed through the earth -- >> With their teeth. >> Realizing that our economy is weak, coming up and consulting the cables -- >> Taking advantage. >> -- in an attempt to take over our society. >> Well, considering how things are going, mole men will probably be a better bet. >> See -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Compelling argument there. >> They're blind, though. >> One interesting thing for the folks who did lose their phone service, if they had Internet, which means that they would have had to have their internet not through AT&T, but if they had their Internet they would have been able to follow updates on Twitter. AT&T kept up really good information on the Twitter feed, and a lot of people were able to find out when they were expecting to get phone service back by looking at Twitter. >> Now, not to take this off on a tangent, but don't most people really have more than one way to get on the net. I mean, we've got -- at home we've got Comcast cable, got Internet enabled phones which are over -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> The phones are out. >> Not -- >> Not mobile phones. >> No, mobile phones were out. >> Oh. >> If you were on AT&T. >> No, no, no. Even Verizon phones and Sprint phones were out, because AT&T is the local trunk line, and that's what got cut. >> Oh. >> Okay, how about the neighbor's Wi-Fi. >> Yeah, exactly. You could use that. If they were on Comcast you were fine. >> Oh that's -- wow. >> Yeah, it was pretty scary. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Probably people that work with, you know, big T1 lines and that sort of thing were still able to get the Internet. Or -- or they worked in an area that wasn't effected by the outage. >> Now there were all sorts of -- we have all sorts of random problems. I mean, Shanklin [Assumed spelling] who lives in San Francisco but in a different neighborhood than me was having issues, our VPN was flaky that morning, there were all sorts of routing issues that morning. >> Yeah. It had wide-ranging effects, because AT&T, like we said, you know, they -- they are the local service provider, and the cable that was cut was a pretty important fiber optic cable. >> It was, yeah, this major trunk line. Obviously if non-AT&T customers were effected it was like being used for network bridging or something. >> Anyway, the service was restored late last night, and Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, they're all back up and running today. >> You know who really did this? >> And the hunt is on. >> It's a company that makes armored cables. It was a conspiracy to convince -- >> Now they want to armor all the cables. >> I'm thinking you're right. >> They're probably more expensive too. >> You know what -- what the defence department did -- I don't know if this is actually true, but I heard the way they protected the integrity of their private network, not the Internet but their private network cables, their cables were in pipes and the pipes were pressurized and there were sensors at the ends so if anybody wanted to get to the cable physically they would have to cut through the pipe, and then the pressure would go down in the pipe and the sensor would go off, and they knew there was an attack. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> That's what we need to do. >> They also bribed mole men. It's also a little known fact. >> Really? >> To also guard the cables. But I thought the Twittering on this was pretty interesting, because it's Twitter, everyone makes fun of Twitter, everyone says what they're eating, a ham sand witch or whatever. But this was a good use of it, where AT&T put out really good, specific information about the outage and people could keep up-to-date. >> Don't be dissing Twitter -- ever. Because Twitter is useful for stuff like this, and for -- in natural disasters, people use Twitter, Twitter gets people out of jail, I mean, Twitter -- >> It's Good Friday today and they're Twittering mass. >> They are. Yes. >> Caroline reports that there's a church in New York that is Twittering the -- >> Stations of the cross. >> I don't know what they're Twittering. >> The Good Friday Service? >> I went to the seder, I don't know about this Good Friday Stuff. >> We did leave an empty seat open at the podcast that day. >> Well this is -- >> What a great way to bring people into the church. If you think that's a good thing to do. >> Yeah, they're Twittering -- on Passion Play here. >> Yeah. That would be the stations. >> Okay, fine. I don't know of this stuff. >> All right, yelp is going to allow businesses to respond to web reviews. This has been a big controversy in the business communities that are covered by Yelp. People go on, they make nasty reviews, and the businesses felt they had no way to respond, because you can't comment on a review. Their only option would be to put up their own review which is kind of conflict of interest. Or to contact the reviewer directly, which you can -- you can send a message to an account and say hey, why are you slamming on me, can I make it good. But now Yelp says they're going to make an official space for business owners to respond and try to defend themselves against accusations in the reviews, which is I think a good way to handle it. I don't know why Yelp was against this. Other sites have done this for a long time. >> I was actually surprised because we checked this right before the show, that you can't actually reply to a review. So it's a non-threaded discussion which is what a review thread on Yelp is. You can write your own review, you could write a review saying the previous review was a moron, but you can't actually attach a comment to another review. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> It's not a threaded -- >> Which is what this would be, right? >> Sounds like. >> I don't think this is attached to the review itself. I think -- I actually don't know how they're going to implement it. But from what I read it seems like the businesses will get a special place to say, hey, this is what's really going on. And then you can judge for yourself whether you believe the reviewer, or the business, or you know -- I think it's fair to give the business owners some space to defend themselves. >> Absolutely. As much as -- I mean, I have big issues with Yelp and I have big issues with -- I mean, personally, I find it an incredibly valuable service, but there are issues around it. There's a lot of controversy around it. But to give the -- what Yelp does in many ways is it gives people the ability to attack from, you know, behind a barrier a business that has wronged them or that they just don't like, or maybe they work at the competition. This gives the business a way to respond to that. >> Well Yelp -- >> So it opens a dialogue, which I think is good. >> Yelp has been critical sort of -- it's been critical that they've been too anti small business, almost, Right? [Inaudible] was too much voice to the users or something. Wasn't that, like, a story in the East Bay Express or something? >> A couple. Yeah. >> Yeah, right. Where they were saying, like, there was a -- some bribery involved or something or -- >> All kinds of accusations -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Saying, like, if you want to improve your review then pay us some money for advertising. >> Exactly. So this is sort of like, no, you know, trying to play nice with the small businesses. So -- something -- it's a good step, I think. >> I think it's a good idea. One business that I would like to play nicer with you is Time-Warner Cable. They've announced that they're going to be testing ridiculously small bandwidth caps at ridiculously high prices. Today they stopped to announce an unlimited package. So I'm like, okay, maybe this is making up for it. A way to live without a data cap on Time-Warner, which Comcast does not give you. Comcast is like, 250 gigabytes or you're out. Or you're into a business line which is more expensive. The packages will be 1 gigabyte a monthly is the light user package. >> How many does that cost, 20 cents or what >> It doesn't say what the cost is. >> I could use a gigabyte in a nanosecond. >> It's $2 a gigabyte for overage fees, though. >> Good gravy. >> Then there's the standard packages we heard of before, which would be 10 gigabytes, 20, and 40, and now 60 gigabyte, which I had not seen before. >> Oh yeah, that is new. >> And then the big daddy package that Gadget reports is a 100 gigabyte package at $75 a month, but here's the rut. Your overage fees are only a buck a gigabyte, and as soon as you get to $75 in overage feesas -- overage feesas? [ Laughter ] >> Overage fees -- they stop charging you. >> So $75 plus 75 -- 150, that does make sense. >> So it's 150 -- now do they say -- do they have this thing where they retain the option to terminate you -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Sure, they all say that stuff -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Essentially by the letter of the law -- the letter of this agreement, though, 150 gigabytes for all you can eat. >> 100 gigabytes. $150. >> For all you can eat. >> What I like about it is if you have a month where you're a light user you actually pay less than $150 -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Of course. >> 75 bucks is still a lot for access. >> It's basically saying $75 for 100 gigabytes and then if you go over, you pay $1 a gigabyte up. So maybe if you have 120, you only pay $95 that month. Now, that's the thing, though. It's like, really, 75 bucks for 100 gigabytes. I can go to Comcast and get 250 gigabytes at $50 or less a month. So -- but Comcast [Inaudible] -- >> Not competitors. >> Yeah, but then Comcast, like you said, if you go over the cap, you're done, though. So -- >> I also still -- I got a real interesting e-mail from a guy in the cable business explaining that it is costly for them to put docs as 3.0 in. We talked about how pretty much -- you know, your biggest costs are at the node. But it is costly to run the wires because the wires don't handle the frequency spectrum, and old splitters are bad for the new doc system, 3.0. But I still think Time-Warner is being capricious in saying we have to charge these outrageous amounts to upgrade our infrastructure. It is out of proportion to what they need to do. >> Really? I mean, because this stuff is expensive to upgrade, right? I mean, you're talking about a lot of homes passed, a lot of wires -- >> Where did all the money go that they've been doing -- they've been sitting on. They haven't upgraded it for years, the wires aren't that expensive. The docs say 3.0 equipment is expensive, but it's not that much. It effects a wide area. I'm not saying there aren't costs, but they're out of proportion. >> Well so you're saying that the cable companies and the ISPs are trying to get more money than they should out of the customers. >> They're using it as an excuse. >> All right, yes. What else is new. You know? Until there's competitive pressure to bring it down they'll probably continue to do that. That's what they do. >> That was the other thing this guy tried to say, which I -- he had a -- it was a great e-mail, very instructive. But he said, like, we do feel the competitive pressure because there's DSL and there's direct TV and dish -- I'm like, you may feel the competitive pressure a little bit more in TV, but that DSL is not a big competitor -- >> It's not, no. >> -- any more, for the Internet. I really don't think so. But all a matter of degrees and perspective. Neal Patelle on Gadget reporting that Amazon is now selling Xbox Live arcade games, which I thought was a cool idea until I read how it works. You buy a code from Amazon that you then go and enter into your Xbox. >> Now wait a minute, so let me explain to you how this works for me when I use Amazon -- when I buy online things on Amazon. I use Amazon Unbox right now, or whatever it's called. And I buy a video, and I say I want this to be on my TiVo, and then when I get home or just 20 minutes later it is just there. Isn't that how this -- >> I have the same thing. >> No, you buy a code. >> I don't want to buy -- >> And then you take the code and write it down on a piece of paper, I guess, and then you go over to your Xbox and you fire up your Xbox, and I don't know if you go in the Xbox store or where you go, but then you enter the code, then it downloads the game for you. >> What -- why -- why would anybody do this? >> Maybe it does download the game automatically and then you put it in the code, but it's clunky, [Inaudible] -- >> Code-schmode. Is there any advantage to this? >> Well, the one advantage would be the price is in dollars instead of points. So if a game is 5 bucks, let's say, you pay 5 bucks on Amazon and that's it, instead of maybe paying $6 for 500 points, and then you only use 400 points, so you've got points left over and you wasted money. You get to pay in real dollars. >> The only thing , I can see this as a benefit. Like, if you receive an Amazon gift card for, like, you know a birthday or whatever you can use that. >> Okay, okay. >> For gifting, right. >> It could be good. That makes more sense, if I get a code in an e-mail as a gift. Like, here you go. Because that's how gift cards work. Okay. >> So I'll put up with a little inconvenience for the flexibility in payment and -- >> I still think, come on. If you can just make the thing arrive -- unless it is a gift. >> Yeah. >> Because then that ruins the surprise. Bluetooth 3.0 specs ready to hit the streets April 21. It will allow for transfer of larger files, and how does this work, Nicole? It incorporates 802 11 N somehow, or just 802 11 -- >> Yeah, so it's very interesting. I -- it has all these new technologies in it called enhanced power control, which will reduce the occurrence of disconnect that can be caused by accidents such as putting the phone in the pocket or purse. It also has generic alternate Mac PC mode [Inaudible] what that means -- [Inaudible] essentially let's Bluetooth profiles operate at Wi-Fi speeds. So something called the 802 911 protocol adapter layer, I think. It would use this technology with -- [Inaudible] radio. >> It says you don't have to join a Wi-Fi network. >> No, you don't. But it's a little strange. So -- but both devices need to have both Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. >> Okay, that's a little unfortunate -- >> The thing about Bluetooth and the thing that makes it different from Wi-Fi, one of the big selling points, is its very low power. And when you increase data rates you increase power. And if you need Wi-Fi radios, doesn't it kill your power consumption? >> That is probably a concern. I'm not exactly sure what their solution is for the power situation. But the idea is that Bluetooth is going to be used to pair the two devices. But the data transfer itself will be handed off to Wi-Fi. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> It is backward compatible though, so if you are not using the large file transfer it will switch back to slower, backwards compatible 3 megabyte per second rate. >> Sure. And if Wi-Fi isn't there on either of the devices you can use the Bluetooth transfer. >> Yeah. >> So -- >> But anyway, April 21 is the date. >> The date that what -- we can buy products that do this? >> No. It will be sort of announced, and then a list of cheap makers will be sort of lined up to sort of -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Yeah, that's when the standard is official, and it's out, and people can use it. Yeah, so if you're ready you can sell stuff on this. >> Speaking of which, is 802 11 N out of draft yet? >> I don't know. >> I don't know. Is Gmail out of beta yet? I've been waiting for both of those since I was a much younger man. >> Yeah, right. >> Virgin Mobile is jumping into the $50 unlimited band wagon, along with T-Mobile, Boost, Cricket, Metro PCS, you can now get a $50 talk-only unlimited, like, T-Mobile. Doesn't include any data, which Boost, Metro, and Cricket actually include data, don't they, Nicole? >> Yeah. So you know, it's a little bit less than that. But -- >> Get to the good part. >> The good -- well, the good part is that if you get laid off -- what it is, two months? >> Three months. >> If you've had a plan for three months, doesn't have to be the unlimited plan, right? It could be -- it could be any plan. >> Yeah, it can be any of the monthly plans that they just recently released. >> Then you get what's called Pink Slip Protection from Virgin. >> Which? Yeah? >> So if you get laid off -- this is the caveat though , you must already be a Virgin customer for at least two months, and then after that you -- >> I thought you said three months? >> No. The story is you must at least be a customer for at least two months, and then if you get laid off, and then show that you're unemployed, you get your unemployment benefits and so forth -- you have to show proof, of course. And then they'll -- they'll say okay, fine, we'll give you three months gratis. >> Three months free service? >> If you've been a Virgin subscriber for two months and you get laid off, you get three months of free service. If you are laid off and you go and sign up new to Virgin, you don't get the free -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> So this is -- first of all, this is really cool. Because if you're laid off you need to be contact with the world to find your next gig. >> You need a cell phone to still be operating, absolutely. >> To live, today, in the modern world. >> Actually, a bunch of people in the Bay Area went without their cell phones pretty much all day yesterday, and they're still alive. But are they living? >> Are they living? [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Just barely. So this is -- this is really good for -- for Virgin to do. It's also really brilliant for them because everybody is worried about losing their job right now, and you're worried -- how am I going to pay for all these services I need when I lose my job. Well, maybe I'll get this one as insurance. >> Yeah. >> This is the insurance mobile phone. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> It's really, really smart. >> Preys on your fear. >> It's both preying on fear and a good thing to do at the same time. I don't know what to think about it. >> There's no down side to it. I mean yeah, it is preying your fear a little bit. But honestly, they are not out there marketing it, like, are you worried about your job -- >> Not yet. >> Make sure to switch to Virgin Mobile, or you could be dead. >> Also good to know that Virgin also released a -- like a Texter's Delight Plan. If you don't make a lot of calls, you make mostly text messages, they have a -- sort of a monthly reduced rate plan for text messages too. So -- >> Yeah, that one is only $10 -- wait, $20 a monthly. >> Yeah, $20 a month for unlimited text, and that's if you have, like, a very, sort of inexpensive minute plan. >> That's 10 cents a minute for the -- for the voice. >> That's assuming you don't make a lot of calls with your phone. >> If you're one of those people with, you know, like, incredibly adept thumbs and all of the other people that you talk to are on text, that would be good for you. 20 bucks though. It's only $10 a month extra for the text plan. But if you go text only, it's 20 bucks, and then you pay 10 cents a minute for voice -- I don't know. >> I don't know. It's something. >> The -- I got to read this headline verbatim from Boing Boing Corey Doctoro [Phonetic] writing cold, dead hand of Frank Herbert reaches up from grave, stabs Dune's Second Life megafans in the back. The word picture there -- thank you Corey. >> That's brilliant. >> Wow. >> Essentially what's going on here is there was a couple hundred people on Second Life who made a Dune area. It -- it's full of sand worms and you can ride them like a fremlin [Phonetic] and there's -- there's a sortcar [Phonetic] area and a Benny Jezric [Phonetic] retreat -- ^M00:19:34 [ Laughter ] ^M00:19:36 >> Awesome. >> It's great. And these are the hard core Dune fans. So what -- what does the estate of Frank Herbert do? Do they go and say, hey, let's market to these people, let's sell them a bunch of Dune related stuff, these people will buy sand in a test tube if we say it's replica Dune sand. No, they don't do that. They say please stop. That's a violation of our intellectual property. You have to take off all of the identifiable names and images from this area. >> Yeah, that's -- I mean -- as we're saying, they're well win their rights to do this, but it's moronic. I mean, sell them -- sell them the still suit water, they'll use the tap water, put it in a bottle. Trident Media Group is the New York literary agency which maintains the Herbert estate. They complained about the use of characters, concepts, and other material associated with Dune in the Second Life environment. >> I guess no Dune conventions coming up, because that would be a violation too, right? >> I mean really, come on. I -- this is not threatening your intellectual property. This is extending it and adding value to it. >> Come on, it's Second Life. [Inaudible] Second Life. >> Oh great. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> You know, some people piss off the south, some people piss off the Second Lifers. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Looks a lot like -- ^M00:20:50 [ Multiple voices speaking ] ^M00:20:54 >> I -- I do say -- I have to say I have to put a little plug in here. Sword and Laser, the fantasy sci-fi book club I do with Veronica Belmont is reading Dune right now. So if you are a Dune fan and you're sad about getting kicked out of Second Life, you could -- you could join us, because we need some experts. >> Everybody get on their sand worms and ride to this -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Ride! >> Ride like the wind to the agency and tell them what they're made of. >> I believe it is a 12-worm ride to New York from San Francisco. >> Really? >> That's a lot of worms, considering they're like the size of a football field. >> Well yeah, you ride them until they pass out and then you get a new one. >> Oh yeah. >> All right. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Someone named Buzz at sent us this next story, so I guess they wished to remain anonymous, because it came from myself when I checked the e-mail. But Library Journal reporting that a library in New Hampshire, the Howe Library, asked Amazon if it was okay to lend out the Kindle. They wanted to put, like, 13 books on the Kindle and lend it to people for reading, just like they lend books. They called Amazon. Amazon's support staffer said that's fine, as long as you, you know, do this and this and that. So they essentially locked down the Kindle so that it wasn't easy to download new books on it. Made people agree they wouldn't download new books, they wouldn't copy the books, all that sort of thing. But apparently this is against the terms of service that Amazon has talked about in public several times. In fact, they have said in public that you cannot lend books from the Kindle, the terms of service bar users from selling, renting, leasing, distributing, broadcasting, sub licensing, or otherwise assigning any rights to the digital content or any portion of it to any third parties. So the question is if you're loaning out the actual Kindle, not the electronic books, you're not copying them over and loaning them out, if you're loaning out the Kindle, does that violate the terms of service? >> But the content is clearly on the Kindle. >> Yeah. >> So would it not violate this kind of bizarre terms -- does this mean you can't lend me your Kindle to read a book on it, that if you do that, the black helicopters will come and arrest us both? [ Laughter ] >> I -- it would -- if you interpret it that way, I mean, you have to go one way or the other. Obviously the terms of service are meant to prevent you from copying a book that you bought from the Kindle store and spreading it out to other people in any way. >> And to be more clear if this was for profit -- if I had a Kindle -- >> No, doesn't matter. >> Let me finish. If I had a Kindle and I would rent it to you -- >> Any spreading -- >> Then that would be bad. >> Any spreading out of the electronic book, whether you give it away for free or not. >> What I'm trying to get at is what is the spirit of the TOS not the -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> I think the spirit of the TOS has to do with copying the electronic books, at least that's my opinion. It has nothing to do with the physical Kindle itself. >> So I think another part of the spirit of this TOS is to prevent somebody who has a Kindle and has books downloaded on it from making additional money for themselves through that -- >> I don't know if that -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> I think this is really just a piracy measure. They're basically covering their ass and saying it doesn't matter if you're lending the electronic book to somebody, you have to make a copy to do that, so you can't do it. >> Anyway, they should be more clear about what is appropriate for a library or educational institution, because clearly as more people get electronic books this is -- this is a great way to lend content out. >> Yeah. It's fantastic. Because all it's doing is doing with the electronic book what you do exactly with the physical book. You know, people don't -- can't easily make copies, not that they couldn't if they really tried, but they can't easily make physical copies of the Kindle books when they have the Kindle. And they don't want to. They just want to take that Kindle book home and get the 13 titles off there and read them. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Anne Shaefferer is one of the books on there. >> Really? >> They want to read that, along with When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Saderis. >> They're all -- those are two of the books that are on there. And they just want to read them. They don't want to copy them and spread them out. The library is doing what libraries do, and they shouldn't be prevented from doing this. Amazon is sending mixed signals. One support staffer is like, oh yeah, you're not copying the books. That's final. Lend out the Kindle, we don't care. You're buying the books from us, we get the money, that's great. But then the Amazon public face is saying oh no, no , no, no, that would be a violation of [Inaudible] -- >> Sounds like a lawyer stepped in and put the ka-bash on the whole deal. >> I wonder if the library buys books from Amazon, if Amazon says, oh, you can't lend them out. >> Amazon spokesman Drew Herdner confirmed to the Library Journal that the policy bars library lending but he also said we don't talk about our enforcement actions. >> Now that -- >> This just -- >> That's a cop out. You can't do that. You can't say the law says you can't do it, but we're not going to enforce it. Because that means the people who are like -- they don't know what to believe, and they're always afraid that they're going to get, like, smacked for doing something because they'll change their mind. Yeah, make up your freaking minds. >> You have to say yes or no. >> It's like the speed limit. It's, you know, it's 65, but you know -- if you're going this -- not going too fast, and I'm not in a bad mood , I'm not going to pull you over. >> Unless you're in a red car and we're profiling you, in which case we use it as an excuse. >> No, this is wrong. >> Yeah. Arabs driving red cars, yeah. Can't even go 50, they just get pulled right over. And -- and so what's the profile on an electronic book lender? >> Depends what they're reading. >> Anarchist libraries. >> Yeah, exactly. Depends on what they're reading. >> I wonder -- what happened if they had, like, if they use like a Sony reader instead, or some other E book reader. >> Oh, I don't know -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Whole different company, whole different terms of service. >> Apparently this is really popular. They had a waiting list of 80 and they had three Kindles to lend out to people. So -- >> The problem with -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> The problem with lending out a Kindle, of course, is, like, you've got 18 books on it, you'll never give it back. >> Well, you have a due date. >> Yeah, but then you call -- like most places you call up the library and say I want the book for another week -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> I bet with the Kindle there's no renewals. You've got it for a month and then you have to give it back. >> It would be great to take one on vacation because you have 18 books, doesn't weigh anything. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> That's the good part about it. Yeah. >> A very interesting story out there, we got the video of what happened from the Today Show that will be in the link, in the line up and A woman caught burglars in her house over her net cam. She had a net cam up in her house and called up 911 because she happened to turn it on to look at the house and noticed people walking around picking up her stuff. >> Did they get the burglars? >> Yeah. She had three dogs, two cats, the pets are freaking out, they're not stopping the burglars. Burglars are just wandering around. The best part is you hear her on the phone with 911, she's telling the 911 person everything that's what's happening, oh he's going into the back room, oh he's in my bedroom now, oh, he's over here now, and then -- >> How many cams did she have? >> -- you see the guys start to freak out as they look out the front window and they start going back and forth like let's go out the back, oh, there's somebody out there. You see them notice that the cops are there, and then you see the cops coming through the front door with the guns drawn and the guys actually got arrested. They arrested not only the two guys in the house but two other guys who helped plan the burglary. >> Awesome. >> This house is wired. A lot of webcams. >> I think -- look at the video. It's just a single camera shot that's just very cleverly placed, that happens to be in a really good -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Cats are useless. >> She could tell -- she could tell when they were going into certain rooms. That's -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> That's the way she was able to direct them. >> The dogs didn't do anything? >> Yeah. The police showed up rather quickly, surrounded the house, caught the guys. >> Hey, I just want to say for the record, all the burglars out there. I have net cams in my house too. I really do. So don't try this. >> Yeah, me too. >> I do. I'm serious. >> Everybody does. >> Everybody does. >> Really? >> I have flying micro robots. >> Oh yeah. That have lasers >> Lasers? >> Those would deter a burglar. >> The University of Waterloo, Ontario, is paying researchers who have developed flying micro robots. Unfortunately, they don't have lasers. But they are -- >> Oh, they will. >> -- using mems design to do magnetically levitated memos robots, accomplished with an array of electro-magnets. >> For the purpose of -- what? >> Well, for the purpose of -- we made it. But I think a lot -- lots of ways you could use this. And let me just say, I am a supporter of doing that. You need to do science because it's cool. We'll figure out the practical benefits later. >> I'm just wondering what problem they were trying to solve, even though I really don't care, because this is so bad ass. >> I'm sure they had a particular scientific problem they were trying to solve. The micro robot has pincers that can be opened by heating them with a laser -- so there are lasers involved -- and when the laser is turned off the pincers cool and close. Lasers are also used to detect the position of the robot. So really, honestly, there are a lot of lasers involved. They just don't shoot out of the robot's eyes at you. >> How small -- how small is it? >> It's microscopic. >> It's a tiny, tiny, tiny -- >> Yeah. When I say microscopic, I use that in the loosest sense to mean I don't know. But they're very, very small. They're -- they're mems, and mems are essentially Nano bots. >> Ah, so there's -- >> I'm making all kinds of mistakes, there's going to be all kinds of robot experts telling me -- well now, a Nano bot is not actually a [Inaudible] -- but one of the -- one of the things that they think this could be used for is cleaning rooms. So you could have the mems robot inside the clean room working on your lithography or whatever it is you're doing, you know, doing tasks for you with its little pincers, and you're safely outside the clean room operating it magnetically, remotely. >> I really don't know from this story, it's really bizarre that we can't tell. But I think these things are like you said, microscopic, teeny, teeny, tiny. >> So useful for maybe doing repairs on some kind of micro equipment or something like that. Obviously, if you've got a flaw in a chip probably just throw out the whole chip. I don't know what you'd use these for. >> Except maybe you get two guys with joy sticks and radio controls to have little battles. >> That -- >> That -- >> That would be great. >> That would be great. >> That would be worth all of the money spent on this, yes. >> Micro bot wars. >> That's right. >> Also, a German researcher is about to resurrect the first fully electronic general purpose stored program computer, the Manchester Mark 1, often known as Baby. It was developed in Manchester where Alan Touring [Assumed spelling] has worked. It's referred to in many, many book, including the Cryptonomicon. The functional replica will run the source code of a program from 1952 written by Christopher Strachey [Phonetic], and the sole purpose of that program is to write love letters. The original Manchester Mark 1 was first -- did -- I don't know, they did some sort of Marcen prime search or something like that. Some kind of mathematical stuff. It was also in the codes for World War II. And in 1952 in what many people think as a response to criticism of it being called an electronic brain, it's like, well, you can't call it a brain because it can't feel, Christopher Strachey wrote a poem that allowed the Manchester Mark 1 to create love poetry. >> Awe. >> And there's an emulator, actually, at You can go and emulate the Manchester Mark 1 and it will write you a little love poem. >> Eliza, it ain't. >> Actually, not a love poem so much as a love note. >> Now is this electronic or mechanical, this thing? >> Um, I don't remember. >> What do you mean? >> Well, I've seen people rebuild, like, calculating machines out of tinker toys and stuff, which is incredibly cool. >> Oh, no, no. This is the actual Manchester Mark 1, it's just being refurbished. >> Oh, wow. >> You can get it a lot cheaper because it's a refurb. >> Used. No warrant. May have been opened. >> Yeah. May have been used in World War II. Here I -- you want to hear one of the love letters? >> Sure. This is from the Manchester computer to you. Love moppet, my dear charm wistfully attracts your breathless eagerness, my appetite fondly holds dear your adoration. You are my adoration. My erotic adoration, my fervent hunger. Yours impatiently, MUC -- ^M00:32:42 [ Laughter ] ^M00:32:45 >> That computer ran hot. [ Laughter ] >> It was over[Inaudible] at that point. >> Very [Inaudible] -- >> But yeah, they used to prints these out from the Manchester computer in the 1950s and post them on the boards around the campus, and people didn't know where they were coming from. They were all signed MUC, and the point was to counteract criticisms that a computer couldn't provoke and emotional response. It totally provoked one just now. >> Eliza. >> Maybe not the response that we want, NHR is on their way. >> [Inaudible] in the chat room, that sounded like buffy fan-fic. [ Laughter ] >> Very true. >> Maybe where Joss Wedon got some of this. >> Oh, [Inaudible] that would be bad. >> And finally, we finish on a sad note. Dave Arneson, the could he creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away. He had a long battle with cancer, so we -- we wish him the best in the here-after, and what a -- a ground-breaking team he and Gygax were in the geek world. >> I played -- when I was in -- do you play D&D at all? >> I played a little bit. Yeah. >> Yeah. This is very sad. >> I can't claim to be one of the big geeks like Will Wheaton who plays a lot of D&D, but yeah, it definitely had an effect. >> So rest in peace. Let's move onto the voice mails. Our first one is a clarification on those eight GB Flash Nans that Apple is buying up so quickly. >> Hey [Inaudible] Josh in Salt Lake City. Listened to the show on Thursday. The Nans Flash chips that Apple bought [Inaudible] you assemble those chips to create 4, 8, 16, or 32 gigabit nan, slash, cards. So [Inaudible] put together, I don't know, 192 or so to make a 32 gig chip. Love the show. Bye. >> All right, 8 gigabit, and we had another caller point out the same thing, the 14-year-old podcast listener called in, said the same thing. So -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> [Inaudible] assemble them up, so my mistake for reading that as gigabyte. That confused the whole issue. Let's move on to the next call, though, which has a question for the Author's Guild. >> Hey buzzards, this is Bill. I happened to be blind, and even though I have many options to get books for free in text or talking books or whatever, I'm looking forward to the Amazon Kindle being accessible. And what I don't understand why is the Author's Guild so concerned about rights when you've already bought the freaking book? In order to use the Kindle. What they're concerned about are the people that they think would have bought the book and the audio book -- what percentage is that? It's nuts. Thanks. Bye-bye. >> I -- >> The caller has a point. A very, very good point about who is buying what. But from the author's perspective here I think it's important to note that when an author sells a contract to a book they're selling specific rights, and in most cases those are rights for the printed version of it. That means that they withhold the rights themselves to sell additional rights, the operative word being sell, as in make more money, by selling additional rights to the audio versions of it. So the idea here is that they -- they're expecting that they're going to be able to sell these audio rights. And while there's a good point that maybe somebody bought the book, turn on a switch and it reads it, it doesn't really infringe -- impact that -- >> It doesn't. >> It could. >> It doesn't. >> You could buy one or the other. >> Plus, it's wrong to say like, you know what, we had this previous model that involved cassette tapes and paper, and now we have to mash that -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> So you're surprised that the legal contracts are lagging the technology? >> No, no, no. I think our caller has the main point here, which is like do you really think that because you got the money from someone one way you would have gotten it the other way. >> They might see that now, but they certainly didn't think it -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> -- were going to buy the paper back book and the audio book. >> He has a good point. ^M00:36:35 Bill. >> You have a good point. >> But -- the -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> The contracts weren't written that way. >> I understand that. And -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> And to be fair, they are different contracts. That is one of the reasons. But that's on the periphery of it. Really, what the main point -- the root point is here, they need to adapt. They need to have new terms and new contracts instead of trying to fit -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> These old models into this. And yeah, you're right. It's -- we saw it with the music industry, they're still dealing with those old contracts and digging themselves out. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> But the Author's Guild isn't saying, hey, you know what, we've got these old contracts and we need to figure it out and make it work for everybody. They're saying go back. Turn around, go to the old way. We're not going to change anything. That's what bothers me. >> I don't think the Author's Guild -- >> That's essentially what they're saying. Like nope, you will not be able to play audio because we have these old ways, and that's the way we're staying. >> Well, they have to defend their contracts that they've been pushing people -- >> They're not trying to adapt to the new world, they're trying to force us back into the old one. Have new -- you know, amend the contracts. And maybe they are in the back, you're right. >> I bet they are. Because you know -- >> But that is not the public face they're giving. They're not giving a face of we understand this is great new technology, we're not trying to disable it. They're saying no, it's new technology and we're trying to disable it. >> All right, they need better PR. Or they need to not be -- >> They need to not say that -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> That the Kindle is violating the audio book rights. Because it's not. It's fair use. It's a machine reading electronic text. It's not comparable to any of your previous contracts. >> Right. I happen to agree. >> There you go. >> I'm just saying. >> Darn, you agreed. Now our conversation is over. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Even when you guys agree it sounds like you disagree. ^M00:38:12 [ Multiple voices speaking ] ^M00:38:15 >> I'm just trying to be realistic about this, which is you can't just -- all those contracts are individual, and you can't just say, okay, everybody -- everybody author who ever signed a contract and every agent who ever helped us out, now all of a sudden there's this new writer, it doesn't work this way. All the contracts are just a little bit different and there's no way to blanket fix them all. You have to go back and rewrite those contracts which isn't going to happen. So basically what you have to do is wait for those contracts to expire and it might be -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> And then -- then you can do it. It takes time, even if you want to, it takes time to fix the stuff. Now, if the Author's Guild are being public boneheads about this, then they're going to have this reaction. But it takes time. >> Well I need to quench my thirst from my CNET mug, available at, while Nicole reads our first e-mail. >> Okay, hello buzz [Inaudible] plus one. I have a bit of a -- well actually for you. In episode 945 Raf and Tom mentioned that monkeys and dogs can't do calculus. Well actually a met professor from a college near my hometown has published several papers about his Corgi's ability to perform calculus on the fly. An article about the duo can be found here, which is a science news web site there, and if you really want details one of the papers can be found here, it is a list -- link to a PDF from Love the show. Jake. >> The dog isn't doing calculus though. The dog may be using -- the dog isn't even using calculus. >> Where is the nature of the argument here, where is the evidence of calculus -- >> Well -- what -- what -- actually, it's a pretty cool thing if you go to the science news article. Essentially, when the dog runs to the ocean to get the ball out of the water, you have two options, right? Either run straight into the water and go after the ball that way, or it can run down the beach until he gets to the ball and go that way. What the dog does is it combines that. It runs down the beach part way and then goes into the water to take the most efficient path to the ball. That's actually -- happens to be the solving of a calculus problem. >> So the dog is predicting where -- >> So it's as if the dog was using calculus. The dog just has the natural instinct. It would be as if I ran to get the ball and figured the same thing out on the way. I wouldn't be doing calculus in my head, it would just be like, oh, this seems right. >> Yeah. >> It's interesting, if you look at -- there's this great picture of a school -- this was Harvard, so maybe they are doing calculus, of a courtyard in Harvard where there's a straight, concrete path between two points over a field. And people walk on that patch when -- in the spring time and the summer. But in the winter when it's snowy, the path is an S shape. An S curve. Even though it's the same start point and the end point, the natural path that people take is an S curve. Which is -- has nothing to do with chasing a ball, but it's [Inaudible] there are no straight lines in nature. >> You're saying essentially that we are dogs? >> Yes. No, I'm saying that -- >> Or that people at Harvard are dogs. >> Even better. I'm saying that people never take a straight line, no animals do. >> You dog. >> Let me just be clear, I know there's a lot of people out there saying no, I think the dog is doing calculus. Whatever, no. You can tell when a dog does calculus, like for instance, when I take Jango to the beach, Jango stops and scratches out the formula in the sand before she runs in to get the ball. That's how you know the dog is doing calculus. >> Now wait a minute, Tom, hold on. Because there are -- I've seen dogs that do this in their head. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Maybe there are some. But I think that's rare. Come on. Most dogs can't do calculus in their heads. [ Inaudible comment ] >> Most of them do have to stop and write. Yeah. [ Laughter ] >> All right. Andy B writes in -- this does not have anything to do with dogs or calculus -- he's a video geek, he writes in and says, hi "Bollers," wanted to pass this along for Natalie. The oldest working light bulb is in a firehouse in California and has been on since 1901, is the Livermore Centennial light. >> I -- and they don't have a cage around it. >> Oh. >> They have a webcam on it. You can go take a look. We'll throw the link in the show notes, And it's sitting there, it's burning, it's been burning for 108 years. >> That is an old -- >> It that UPS there or what? >> They, like, when they moved to the new firehouse, apparently, in the '70s, like, there was a police escort for the bulb to make sure it didn't get broken in the move. >> It's like the God bulb. >> Don't break the bulb! >> [Inaudible] sitting up there, sitting up there just hanging with no, like, cage or protector around it. >> It's a pretty curious -- >> I'm worried about that bulb. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> I think there's like primordial life forming inside that thing. [ Laughter ] >> This is -- there's a horror film about this bulb. Don't break the bulb or else, you know, the end of days. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Somebody could come in with a beebee gun and just like -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> The fire people are going to tackle him before he got a shot off, but still -- it makes me nervous. >> So of all the places to have a long lasting light bulb, in a firehouse where there's commotion and sound -- >> It's the night light. And it's hanging way up there. It's -- >> I love the night light. >> Yeah. >> You like to boogie, and I'd like to go to the next e-mail now. RJ wrote in, said in episode 949 you read an e-mail where the user said they would need to downgrade to Windows XP in order to run old programs. Windows Vista -- and I expect Windows 7, support a capability mode for the previous versions of Windows. Right mouse click on any exe file program and select Properties, and click on the Compatibility tab, and then check the box to run this program in compatibility mode. You get options for server 3003 -- I think he means 2003 -- XP, 2000, NT 4.0, 98 ME, or Windows 95. Why you would ever run something in compatibility mode for ME. I guess that's just one option, 98, ME wasn't any different. I say yes you can run in Windows Frack in 95 mode. Does Apple offer this level of backwards compatibility? I doubt it. Byte me, Apple -- B-Y-T-E. Actually, Apple doesn't any more. They used to -- they used to -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> -- compatibility mode. But no longer. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> They're very future-forward, though. Mac has always been not too -- they don't care so much about the backwards [Inaudible] -- >> Yeah, this isn't about Mac and PC so much as it's about I forget about the compatibility mode now, so thanks RJ for pointing that out. Some programs will work under compatibility mode and some don't. [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Compatibility mode is not compatible. >> Well, it's an emulator. [ Laughter ] >> So it's not always compatible. >> Is it emulator, or they just turn on or off -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> -- it may not be an actual emulator -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> It's the same core. Isn't it in, I mean, there's still the essence of, you know, DOS to Windows 16 to Windows 32 -- >> All I know is when our call screen software, I tried it in compatibility mode in Vista, would not work. >> Didn't work in Vista, doesn't work in compatibility mode. >> Just does not work in Vista, compatibility mode or otherwise. And that's probably -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> It might work on that -- on the MUC. >> It might. And then write me love letters. >> [Inaudible] love poems, oh that's sweet. >> All right, so -- >> This last one? >> Last one. >> Hi BOL crew of the day. I am happy -- this is from -- who is this from? >> Barry. >> Barry in Napa. Happy to bring news of a game company that seems to have finally the right idea about DRM Star Doc, recently sent me an e-mail, slash spam, that was trying to sell me the stand-alone expansion to a copy [Inaudible] they offered through, quote, impulse, which is similar to Steam for downloading game titles instead of buying off the shelf. The big news is that they claim that their new technology will only the limit the games to the person and you can install on any number of machines. They call it the GOO, or Game Object Obfuscation technology. It will keep the game up-to-date and associate the game with the person rather than the machine. Well, it actually -- wow, if it actually works, they got it right. I feel obligated to write this e-mail to you because of the shared angst about game DRM that I share with you all. Kudos to Star Doc, love the show. >> So that's similar to Steam, right? >> I think it is. [ Inaudible audience comment ] >> Well because, you know, when I upgraded by computer I, you know, my old one crashed, I get a new computer and I put Steam on it, log on, and all my games show up. >> That's great. >> I mean, it took forever to download because they're big games, but they're just all there and the rights are there. So this is good, but I wonder if it's -- >> If it's -- the -- [ Multiple voices speaking ] >> Yeah, I think it's, you know, kudos to Star Doc. I don't know that they're the first ones to ever do that, but it's cool. >> I'm all about DRM -- I'm not about DRM. I'm all about any kind of -- if you have to use some kind of protection technology to tie it to the person not the device. >> Yeah, I -- you know, let's try not to use the copy protection because it really doesn't work. But yeah, I like that idea. In fact, I wish Warcraft would embrace this more than they already do. They kind of do, like if you move to a new computer you can just put in your stuff and all of that sort of thing. But they -- they sometimes -- I don't know. They -- it's -- they should just be giving away Warcraft for free. Not that they need to, frankly, addict any more people to it. But the money they make is the money off of the subscriptions. And you should just be able to log into any computer and -- and play. You know, that's -- that's where it's going, you know, is that sort of like, hey, this is my account. And that's -- that's the way these Steam and all these other places should work. >> So for Warcraft you have to buy the code and subscribe? >> Yeah. You have to buy the code the first time and then, you know -- multi >> It's usually cheap and you can get a discount and all that stuff. But it's like, really? I mean, you're making most of your money off that [Inaudible] -- >> It does make me think it's the end of physical game discs, [Inaudible] not a moment too soon. Absolutely. So saves room on my [Inaudible] -- >> Sorry Blu-Ray. >> Yeah right. >> Too late. >> Too late. >> Well, we might as well promote both of your podcasts, because we've got two different podcasts represented in the room right now. Nicole, you're doing the dialed-in podcast these days. Is that right? >> With Kent Sherman and Bonnie Cha. Talk about phones. >> Nice. >> Yeah. >> What did you cover this last week? >> We talked about the CTIA show last week, which was in Vegas. Kind of a slow show, as most trade shows are these days, I think. But there were some news about the new Blackberry app world and the iPhone for Skype -- the Skype for iPhone, sorry. So some news. >> Right on. Nice. >> And then Rafe, of course, with Tom, the Real Deal. And then also, actually I should mention, the Webware 100. >> Thank you. Yeah. So you can still vote for your favorite web 2.0 applications on There are 300 great apps to choose from. Pick the ten that you like best, and we'll see at the end of the month which are the best web apps. >> Can I promote all the rest of my podcasts? >> You can. >> Insider Secrets, Quick Fix, Top Five, Cnet Live, East Meets West, Sword and Laser -- >> Show off. >> Oh Tom, show off. >> Wow. Are you sure you don't have any others? >> Are they all you too? >> I'm going to start one tonight. >> for all of our podcast. >> And of course you can go to to get the links to everything we talked about in the show. And links to other cool things like the Buzz Out Loud wiki, and the forums. If you're in London, I'm going to be in London a week from Sunday, and we're trying to figure out exactly what pub to meet at. So I will make that announcement by Twitter, but also in the Buzz Out Loud forums as well. >> Nice. >> Yay. >> All right. >> See you guys later. >> Bye. >> Bye. ^M00:49:12 [ Music ]

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