Comcast trademarks “True Gig” and plans multi-gigabit Internet service

Comcast trademarks “True Gig” and plans multi-gigabit Internet service
Trademark application also points to “online video-on-demand service.”
By Jon Brodkin
Oct 28 2014
<http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/10/comcast-trademarks-true-gig-and-plans-multi-gigabit-internet-service/>

Comcast last week applied for a trademark on the phrase “True Gig” to describe extremely fast Internet service.

The trademark application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (and reported yesterday by The Donohue Report) says that True Gig describes “Internet service provider services; providing high speed access to the Internet, mobile networks, and other electronic communications networks; wireless broadband communication services; provision of telecommunication access to video and audio content via cable, fiber optics, the Internet, mobile networks, and other electronic communications networks.”

Comcast is also using True Gig to describe online video streaming, specifically “provision of non-downloadable films, movies, and television programs via an online video-on-demand service; providing entertainment information via television, cable, telephone, wireless broadband, fiber broadband, and via the Internet.”

Comcast launched a streaming video service called Streampix in 2012, but it was never popular and is being folded into Comcast’s other services. Comcast has said it hasn’t found a “viable business model” for a nationwide streaming service as opposed to one available only in its cable territory.

As for gigabit Internet, Comcast is already halfway there with its “Extreme 505″ service, which uses fiber rather than cable to deliver 505Mbps download speeds and 100Mbps upload. Extreme 505 costs $400 a month and requires a three-year contract. It’s available in some markets but not throughout all of Comcast’s territory. Plenty of fiber-to-the-home services offer gigabit speeds (at much lower prices), so that provides one clear path to a gigabit for Comcast.

[snip]

Reliability survey: Infotainment ‘plagues’ new cars

[Note:  This item comes from friend Bob Frankston.  DLH]

Reliability survey: Infotainment ‘plagues’ new cars
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY
Oct 27 2014
<http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/10/27/consumer-reports-reliability-survey-infotainment-unrelaible/18008451/>

USA TODAY’s Chris Woodyard takes a look at the six vehicles that Consumer Reports magazine says are giving their owners the most trouble /Sean Fujiwara

Consumer Reports says infotainment systems appear to be the most troublesome feature in 2014 vehicles.

In fact, it considers them a “growing first-year reliability plague,” referring to models in the first year after introduction or a redesign.

That conclusion is part of the results announced today of the publication’s annual Auto Reliability Survey. The publication solicits replies from readers to a questionnaire about their cars and analyzes the results — this year based on more than a million responses — to predict the reliability of new vehicles by brand and model.

CR said the worst example of the infotainment phenomena in this year’s crop of new models is the In Touch system in the Infiniti Q50 sedan. More than one in five owners said it didn’t work right. That, combined with other reliability issues in the Infiniti QX60 SUV, pulled Infiniti’s overall brand reliability ranking down 14 places to 20th — the biggest drop of any of the 28 brands in the survey this year.

Electronic issues also can be a signal that the vehicle may have other problems, the magazine said.

“Infotainment system problems generally don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “A close look at the results suggests that cars with a lot of in-car electronic issues usually have plenty of other troubles, too.”

The survey is widely followed, but reliability isn’t the only way to judge a car, says Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. It is “one of many aspects that make up a car’s total ownership experience,” he says. And “it has to be considered among factors like purchase price, resale value, performance and fuel efficiency.

“Measuring reliability is also not a straightforward process,” Brauer says, “because for some it means how many unexpected problems arise while for others it means satisfaction with the cupholders. Car shoppers should keep all of these factors in mind, rather than fixating on a single factor, when considering their next purchase.”

According to CR, first-year models from Infiniti, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, Cadillac, Ford and Honda all have suffered significant rates of complaints due to infotainment bugs and glitches.

Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category that includes in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners than any other category.

[snip]

The Shooting of Milton Hall (NSFW)

[Note:  This item comes from friend Ed DeWath.  DLH]

From: Edward DeWath <dewath@prodigy.net>
Subject: The Shooting of Milton Hall (NSFW)
Date: October 27, 2014 at 22:39:45 EDT
To: Dewayne Hendricks <wa8dzp@gmail.com>

When police officers in Saginaw, Michigan, killed a mentally ill man in a hail of bullets on July 1, 2012, it prompted a local outcry and a federal investigation.

A video released Monday offers a disturbingly clear look at the shooting. (Police footage starts at 0:56 )

VIDEO: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Iigvm5iPkU>

The video, captured by a police car dashboard camera, shows six police officers gunning down Milton Hall, 49, in broad daylight, in a Saginaw parking lot. Hall was armed with a penknife and stood at least several yards from the nearest officer.

Officers fired at him more than 45 times.

45 times? WTF?

EFF: Which Service Providers Side With Users in IP Disputes?

[Note:  This item comes from Dave Farber's IP List.  DLH]

From: “EFF Press” <press@eff.org>
Date: Oct 27, 2014 4:58 PM
Subject: [E-B] EFF: Which Service Providers Side With Users in IP Disputes?
To: <presslist@eff.org>

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, October 27, 2014

Contact:

Parker Higgins
Director of Copyright Activism
Electronic Frontier Foundation

parker@eff.org

+1 415 436 9333 x123

Which Service Providers Side With Users in IP Disputes? 

WordPress, NameCheap Receive Five Stars in New EFF 
Scorecard 

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
today released a new report and scorecard that shows what 
online service providers are doing to protect users from 
baseless copyright and trademark complaints. 

“Who Has Your Back: When Copyright and Trademark Bullies 
Threaten Free Speech” examines how online service providers 
handle copyright and trademark-based takedown requests.  
The report expands upon EFF’s influential “Who Has Your 
Back” annual report covering how online service providers 
protect users’ data from government requests. 

“When a private citizen or corporation wants to silence 
speech on a major online platform, the quickest method is 
often a copyright or trademark complaint,” EFF Director of 
Copyright Activism Parker Higgins said. “EFF has worked for 
many years to help people whose speech is unfairly targeted 
by these sorts of complaints, and we’ve seen how important 
it is that speech platforms have policies that help protect 
lawful users.” 

EFF examined 13 companies and issued stars if they met the 
baseline standards for what a service can do to defend its 
users’ speech against copyright and trademark bullies.  The 
services could receive a maximum of five stars, based on 
criteria including publicly documented procedures for 
responses to DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices, how 
the services handle trademark disputes, and if the company 
issued detailed transparency reports. 

Automattic’s WordPress.com and NameCheap were the only two 
companies to receive five out of five stars.  However, two 
other companies were recognized for going the extra mile: 
Etsy, for providing educational guides, and Twitter, for 
publishing regular and thorough transparency reports.  
Overall, 10 companies did not publish adequate transparency 
reports, highlighting an information black hole for 
consumers.  Additionally, four companies missed a star for 
their counter-notice practices–a critical procedure for 
restoring content that may have been taken down without 
cause. 

“Major online platforms are essential to online expression, 
so their policy decisions can have a huge impact on public 
discourse,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne 
McSherry said. “As users choose which platforms will host 
their updates, writing, images, and videos, they ought to 
know which of these services have publicly committed to 
treating their speech fairly and even helping them fight 
back against bullies that would try to take it down.” 

For the report: 

https://www.eff.org/pages/who-has-your-back-copyright-trademark-2014

For the shareable infographic:

https://www.eff.org/files/2014/10/27/who-has-your-back-copyright-trademark-header.png

For this release:

https://www.eff.org/press/releases/which-service-providers-side-users-ip-disputes

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading 
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital 
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight 
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital 
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms 
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of 
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. 
Find out more at 
https://www.eff.org

Apple responds to the Rite Aid, CVS debacle in a very ‘Apple’ way

Apple responds to the Rite Aid, CVS debacle in a very ‘Apple’ way
By Mike Wehner
Oct 27 2014
<http://www.tuaw.com/2014/10/27/apple-responds-to-the-rite-aid-cvs-debacle-in-a-very-apple-wa/>

Apple is a company of actions, not words. Even when Tim Cook takes the stage to talk about how great his company is, it’s always about the here and now, not empty promises about the future. Apple’s official response regarding the refusal of Rite Aid and CVS to support Apple Pay — the company’s newly launched NFC payment system — is deliciously “Apple” in that very same way. Provided to Business Insider, the statement reads:

The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations.

In case you’re having some trouble reading between the lines, let me translate that for you:

Dear Rite Aid/CVS,

People are already in love with Apple Pay and it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. CurrentC is a disaster — no, seriously, it has a 1-star rating with over 1,200 reviews — and the only ones you’re hurting by refusing to support our payment system is your own customers. Oh, and Walgreens already accepts Apple Pay, so you can either fall in line or make a nice little shanty over there on the wrong side of tech history.

Love, Apple

ACLU Calls Schools’ Policy to Search Devices and ‘Approve’ Kids’ Web Posts Unconstitutional

ACLU Calls Schools’ Policy to Search Devices and ‘Approve’ Kids’ Web Posts Unconstitutional
By KIM ZETTER
Oct 27 2014
<http://www.wired.com/2014/10/tennessee-school-boards-rights-violations/>

A school board in Tennessee is being accused of violating the constitutional rights of students over a policy that allows school officials to search any electronic devices students bring to campus and to monitor and control what students post on social media sites.

The broadly written policy also allows schools to monitor any communications sent through or stored on school networks, which would essentially allow the school to read the content of stored and transmitted email. 

The policy (.pdf) is intended to “protect students and adults from obscene information,” “restrict access to materials that are harmful to minors” and help secure the school’s network from malware.

But parts of the policy are so broadly written, they constitute clear violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They say the policy oversteps the school’s authority and exhibits “a fundamental misunderstanding of the constitutional rights” of students.

Disciplinary actions for failing to follow the rules are also problematic, the groups say. Under the policy, failure to comply can result in “loss of network privileges, confiscation of computer equipment, suspension … and/or criminal prosecution.”

The Tennessee policy would allow authorities to seize and search a device for no compelling reason.

The groups note that denying students access to school computers and networks that are needed for their education essentially denies them the right to an equivalent education that other students obtain. Requiring students to sign an agreement essentially waiving their constitutional rights is also not permissible.

The two groups sent a letter (.pdf) today to the Williamson County Board of Education after parent Daniel Pomerantz complained that he was forced to agree to the policy. He initially refused to sign the policy at the start of the school semester, but relented after the school prohibited his 5-year-old daughter from using the computers at Nolensville Elementary School without the agreement.

“The first time they were using the computers [in her classroom], they told her she had to go sit aside and do something else and she started to cry and complain,” Pomerantz told WIRED. “It was not a pleasant experience as a family. They told her it was all because of me, that [because] I wouldn’t do this was why she couldn’t learn on computers with all the other students.”

There are 41 schools in the Williamson school district, and the policy affects all 35,000 students. 

The policy contains a number of points that on their face seem designed to protect the privacy and safety of students. For example, students must provide consent before their photo, name or work can be posted on a school web site or in a school publication. Students are also required to report any “electronically transmitted attacks” made by others.

But the sections pertaining to the school’s Bring Your Own Technology policy and other parts go too far, the civil liberties groups say. Students in grades three through twelve are allowed to bring their own electronic devices to school—smartphones, laptops, tablet computers, and eReaders—as long as they’re used for educational instruction purposes and the students use only the school’s Wi-Fi network to access the internet with the devices. Students in classes below the third grade are not allowed to bring computers, but are provided computers in class and still need to have their parents sign the agreement.

[snip]

One week later, Google algorithm change hits streaming, torrent sites hard

One week later, Google algorithm change hits streaming, torrent sites hard
After early efforts in 2012, it appears Google’s gotten the results it wanted.
By Casey Johnston
Oct 27 2014
<http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/10/project-free-tv-torrent-sites-drop-in-google-results-with-new-algorithm/>

Video streaming and torrent sites have dropped precipitously in Google rankings after the company altered its algorithm last Monday, according to reports from Searchmetrics. One of Project Free TV’s main operating domains, free-tv-video-online.me, fell 96 percent in Searchmetric’s rankings, one of the biggest drops alongside torrentz.eu and thepiratebay.se.

Google committed to fighting piracy by decrementing search results that allow users to access illegal streams or torrents back in 2012. The first round of changes didn’t help much, according to interested parties like the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Google complies with takedown requests, of which it received 224 million in the last year, according to its own report. The company responded to these within six hours on average, but industry parties pushed for Google to make content sites less visible overall. Even with its new solution, Google notes that this won’t be the same as removing domains from search entirely: “the number of noticed pages is typically only a tiny fraction of the total number of pages on the site,” the company said.

But in a week, the algorithm changes have already made a difference. In addition to the sites listed above, kickass.to’s Searchmetrics visibility dropped 66 percent, zippyshare.com dropped 86 percent, and extratorrent.cc dropped just over 80 percent. Should an Internet user go looking for certain material via search, they will be less likely to see these sites among the results.