Bellsouth doesn’t want you to know how much it hates customers

(via Slashdot)

Originally, BellSouth simply denied working to support the NSA’s illegal wiretaps of US citizens as fully as possible. Now, a request has been made to USA Today to retract the earlier story.

The telecommunications giant sent a letter to USA Today on Thursday asking it to retract last week’s story that BellSouth and two other companies helped the NSA compile a massive database of records on domestic phone calls.

In other words, originally there was a denial, but with evidence supporting the earlier story, BellSouth wants to simply hide the details so people won’t know how much help the NSA has been given to continue the current administrations illegal eavesdropping efforts.

[tags]BellSouth, NSA wiretaps[/tags]

The Pirate Bay shut down?

When I couldn’t reach to see what new TV shows were avialable, I went looking for a reason.  My first assumption was that somehow, despite past failures to do so, companies who have seen their IP distributed on The Pirate Bay managed to get the site taken offline.  It appears Slashdot confirms my first instinct was basically on-target.

My real interest in The Pirate Bay is TV show downloads.  Of course, the industry calls me a pirate for that.  I, on the other hand, have spent a couple hundred bucks this year on DVD sets for television shows that I never would have purchased had I not downloaded and watched so much from the torrent sites.  I am very unlikely to purchase those DVDs for shows I haven’t already seen.  And since I work at night, don’t have a working VCR, and haven’t gotten a DVR yet, that pretty much means no TV DVD sets without torrents.

[tags]The Pirate Bay, Torrent sites[/tags]

Microsoft hoping to replace JPEG?

I don’t know how I ended up finding this article, but here’s a good write-up on Microsoft’s new photo format.  The claim is Windows Media Photo will manage roughly double the compression ratio JPEG has while maintaining or bettering JPEG’s visual quality.  If true, this could really catch on.  Even with high-bandwidth connections more readily available, every opportunity to squeeze more signal per bit through the pipe is welcome.

“One of the biggest reasons people upgrade their PCs is digital photos,” Crow said, noting that Microsoft has been in contact with printer makers, digital camera companies and other unnamed industry partners while working on Windows Media Photo. Microsoft touts managing “digital memories” as one of the key attributes of XP successor Vista.

. . .

Not only does compression save storage space, which is especially important for devices such as cell phones and digital cameras, a smaller file can also print faster, transfer faster and help conserve battery life on devices, Crow said. “Making a file that is smaller has all kinds of benefits.”

Will this catch on?  As I said above, I can see the appeal, and if it works out as well as Microsoft is saying it will (read the article formore details of the intelligence in this format), I can only see problems if licensing costs are prohibitive or if Microsoft hate beats out throughput and image manipulation ease concerns.  Even the Microsoft rep realizes that:

Licensing details for the technology are still being ironed out. These could be a concern, Crow acknowledged, but “the philosophy has been that licensing should not be a restriction” to adoption, he said.

Honestly, I’m hoping Microsoft doesn’t pull an Apple and over-price this.  I’d like to see a better image format soon.

[tags]Microsoft, JPEG, photo format[/tags]