links for 2010-04-09

  • The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that it’s seeking input from the public about whether to broaden regulations aimed at preserving children’s privacy online.
    The last time the FTC issued regulations regarding the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was in 2000. The commission said it’s now considering revamping the regulations due to “changes to the online environment … including children’s increasing use of mobile technology to access the Internet.”
    The 12-year-old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits companies from collecting personal information from children younger than 13 without their parents’ consent. In a notice published in the Federal Register, the FTC specifically asks how the regulations regarding that law should apply to new platforms, including mobile, interactive TV and interactive gaming.
  • On one point, everyone here agrees: the high school students who taunted and threatened Phoebe Prince for three months, until she hanged herself, deserve to be punished.
    But acrimony over what school officials knew and how they dealt with the bullying of Ms. Prince, 15, has intensified since Monday, when the district attorney announced that six students who hounded her would face criminal charges.
    School leaders said the district attorney had gotten it wrong when she said that teachers and officials had long known about the hazing of Ms. Prince, a newcomer from Ireland who was relentlessly taunted as an “Irish slut” by some students after she briefly dated a popular senior football star.

  • The struggling Internet company AOL Inc. plans to sell or shut down the online community Bebo nearly two years after buying it for $850 million in an expansion of its social-networking ambitions.
    In an e-mail to employees Tuesday, Jon Brod, who runs AOL’s startup acquisition and investment unit, AOL Ventures, said Bebo would need a “significant investment” to remain competitive.
    Although Bebo has been in the shadow of rivals such as Facebook, it has been strong in foreign markets, including Britain. AOL wanted to tap that strength abroad to drive traffic to AOL’s other free, ad-supported Web sites, especially internationally, while leveraging AOL’s instant-messaging communities, AIM and ICQ, to try to grow Bebo in the United States.
    (tags: bebo aol)
  • Here’s a way you might save $20 this year: Change the font in the documents you print.
    Because different fonts require different amounts of ink to print, you could be buying new printer cartridges less often if you wrote in, say, Century Gothic rather than Arial. Schools and businesses could save thousands of dollars with font changes.
    (tags: printer ink)
  • Justin Gawel says there’s nothing too incriminating on his Facebook page.
    “There are a lot of pictures of drinking [but] nothing naked or anything — at least I don’t think so,” he said jokingly.
    Even so, the Michigan State University junior recently changed his Facebook display name to “Dustin Jawel” to keep his personal life from potential employers while applying for summer internships.
    Although Gawel ditched his rhyming alias after two weeks when he realized Facebook users also can be searched by e-mail address, school and network, he is not alone in his efforts to scrub his online résumé. Many students and recent graduates say they are changing their names on Facebook or tightening privacy settings to hide photos and wall posts from potential employers.
    And with good reason.
  • Topping the wish list for the iPhone and the iPad: broader ability to run more than one program at a time.
    On Thursday, Apple Inc. will unveil updates to the software that powers both devices. Although Apple has provided no details, iPhone owners and computer programmers who write applications for the popular smart phone are hoping the company will address their gripes about limits to such multitasking. The matter may escalate as people with iPads, which have larger screens, try to use them in place of more powerful computers.
    The iPhone already allows for some multitasking, but that’s largely limited to Apple’s own programs. One of Apple’s recent commercials shows an iPhone user taking advantage of time spent on hold paying bills, checking e-mail, playing games and then switching back to calling.
    (tags: apple iphone os)
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded buySAFE a patent for a method of providing safe online transactions that include a third-party guarantee of merchant performance. BuySAFE’s bonding solution ensures virtually risk-free online shopping through merchant inspection, monitoring and a broad third-party guarantee of performance.
    BuySAFE, Inc. was awarded U.S. Patent Number 7,644,019 by the USPTO on January 5, 2010. The inventors were Steven L. Woda and Jeffrey E. Grass who have assigned full ownership rights in the patent to buySAFE, Inc.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Wednesday that Americans may have to accept higher taxes or changes in cherished entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security if the nation is to avoid staggering budget deficits that threaten to choke off economic growth.
    “These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off — until the day they cannot be put off anymore,” Bernanke said in a speech. “But unless we as a nation demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, in the longer run we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth.”
  • A 16-year-old Arkansas boy is suing his mother, accusing her of slandering him on his Facebook page.
    Denise New of Arkadelphia is charged with harassment and her son — whose name has not been released — is asking that his mother be prohibited from contacting him.
    Authorities say the boy lives with his grandmother, who has custodial rights.
    Denise New says she believes she has the legal right to monitor her son’s activities online and that plans to fight the charges.
    Prosecutor Todd Turner declined to comment, citing the boy’s age.
  • When it comes to uncovering secrets, Wikileaks spares no one. Hollywood celebrities, the Kenyan police and the Church of Scientology have all endured embarrassing disclosures and now it is the US military’s turn.
    Set up in January 2007, the Wikileaks website publishes anonymously sourced confidential documents from governments, corporations and powerful organisations.
    It prides itself on being an “uncensorable version of Wikipedia”, sharing the online encyclopaedia’s ethos, design and processes without the two sites having a formal relationship.
    (tags: wikileaks)
  • Accessories for the HTC-made Nexus One have begun appearing in T-Mobile retail stores. Is T-Mobile preparing to stock the Nexus One? If so, does that mean Google is giving up on its plans to sell Android devices directly to consumers? Also, an “Incredible” device is preparing to launch with Verizon Wireless.
    T-Mobile retail stores have received shipments of protective cases for the Nexus One, among several other accessories for the device. I can think of just a two reasons why T-Mobile might be stocking Nexus One accessories:
    1. T-Mobile is going to offer the Nexus One for sale to consumers from its stores.
    2. T-Mobile wants to support its customers, and knows that its Nexus One users might like to have access to and purchase accessories for their devices.
  • Rackspace has released an iPad application that subscribers of the company’s cloud services can use to monitor and manage servers.
    iPad teardown shot, via the FCC.
    (Click for larger image and for all 17 iPad teardown photos. )
    Rackspace Cloud Pro leverages the iPad’s touch-screen interface in enabling customers to turn on backups for a server, create new servers from backups, manage back-up scheduling, and re-boot, rename, resize and delete servers.
    The application is available as of Tuesday at no additional charge through iPad-maker Apple’s iTunes store.

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