President-elect Barack Obama will have his hands full trying to get the economy back on track once he officially takes office next month, and if the media reform group Free Press has any say in the matter, a major investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure should be high on the list.
In a 30-page reported titled "Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy", the Free Press proposes spending $44 billion in broadband stimulus funds over the next three years. The vast amount of funds would be used to build next-generation broadband networks, connecting rural areas without broadband service, making high speed connections more affordable, providing PCs and training to low income users, promoting children's access to technology at school and at home, and ensuring clear standards of quality, affordability, and competition.
"Promoting the deployment of a national, forward-looking broadband infrastructure will provide substantial short-term and long-term economic benefits," S. Derek Turner, study author and research director of Free Press, wrote in the report (PDF). "This deployment effort will immediately create tens of thousands of new jobs in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors."
The United States ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with over 40 percent of all U.S. homes still without a high speed connection. Obama previously said that investing in computers and broadband for schools and hospitals would be part of his immediate economic recovery plans, but no specific amount was ever mentioned.
Would spending $44 billion be overboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
Once again, Internet Explorer (aka "Internet Exploder") has been attacked through a "zero-day" remote code execution vulnerability. That might not seem like MaximumPC.com-worthy news, except for two factors: the flaw is affecting thousands of websites, and this time, it isn't just Firefox fans who are saying "time to switch browsers, already!" - security experts at Trend Micro, the Spamhaus Project, and the UK's PC Pro magazine are all recommending making a switch, according to the BBC. And here's why:
The flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people's computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.
Switching Browsers? Choices Abound!
Attacks against IE7 have been verified, but all versions of IE (including IE 8 Beta 2) have the same underlying vulnerability; a vulnerability not present in IE's competitors (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari). Switching browsers makes sense for most web surfing, but, alas, some websites and (of course) Windows Update and Microsoft Update for Windows XP won't work with anything but IE.
Redmond Readies Security Update
Since the vulnerability was detected on December 10th, Microsoft code jockeys have been working hard to patch the flaw (Redmond doesn't want you to switch, naturally, and given the way that IE and Windows work together, a broken IE isn't good for anybody), and a patch will be available tomorrow (December 17th) for all versions of IE from 5.01 up, applying to all versions of Windows and Windows Server from Windows 2000 on up. It's rare for Microsoft to perform a security update between Patch Tuesdays, but when a "Critical" vulnerability (the most dangerous category of vulnerability) is discovered, there's no time to waste.
If you must use IE and you're looking for workarounds until you can get the update, join us after the jump for details.
Grand Theft Auto's Hot Coffee mod made the whole concept of transitioning from dinner and dancing to bedroom antics seem way too easy. Now it appears it might be harder to take that relationship to the next level, according to a new survey which suggests women prefer the internet to having sex.
The survey, which was commissioned by Intel, pinged 2,119 adults in an attempt to show how essential the internet has become, the Wall Street Journalreports. What Intel found is that 46 percent of women would rather put their sex drive on hold for two weeks than to go without internet access for that long. And it's not just older females who feel that way. According to the survey, 49 percent of women aged 18-34 feel the same way, compared to 52 percent of women aged 35-44.
Not surprisingly, the numbers are somewhat lower for men. About 30 percent of men said they'd rather go without sex for two weeks than internet access, but unlike women, that number goes down as the age goes up. Some 39 percent of men aged 18-34 prefer the internet to sex, but only 23 percent of men aged 35-44 feel the same way.
Hit the jump and tell us which you would rather give up for two weeks.
Sony BMG has agreed to pay $1 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges claiming Sony violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While $1 million might seem a drop in the bucket to a company like Sony, the FTC points out the $1 million penalty matches the largest ever paid in a COPPA case.
The suit, which was filed just yesterday, alleged that Sony managed to collect personal information on roughly 30,000 users under the age of 13, including full names, gender, birth date, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and in some cases, full mailing addresses. According to the FTC, the information was obtained through various Sony-owned websites designed to promote and advertise the company's music offerings, but didn't restrict visitors under the age of 13 from registering.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC Chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."
In addition to the $1 million penalty, Sony must also delete all personal information it had collected from those under 13 years old, and must also distribute the FTC's "How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule" to all of its employees. In addition, Sony's also required to link to the children's privacy section of the FTC's website for five years.
According to a report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group the use of malware on websites intended to steal passwords and other personal information has jumped significantly over the past year.
The exact number of pages sporting hidden code meant to get your secret goodies has almost tripled between July 2007 and July 2008 to a staggering 9.529. And of those, there are 442 different types waiting for you.
The financial crisis is at part to blame for this huge boost in malware-oriented sites. “The current financial crisis has also been used by phishers to create new scams that try to scare consumers into entering their usernames and passwords into sites that mimic those of well-known distressed financial institutions,” said Dave Jevans, the AWPG Chairman. “As the economy degrades, we are seeing a continual increase in malicious and criminal activity on the Internet.”
To date, the RIAA has sued more than 20,000 individuals over alleged copyright infringement, and one could argue that the RIAA has turned its suing spree into a business model. If that's the case, consider what DigiProtect is doing to be nothing more than modern day business economics 101.
The German company has been sending out thousands of letters to UK residents accusing them of using file-sharing networks to download and distribute dozens of porn flicks. The 20-page letters lay out all the embarrassing details, including the name of the film(s) and what date and time the alleged download took place. Similar to what the RIAA has been doing, DigiProtect offers to settle out of court, usually to the tune of £500 (about $740USD).
Hit the jump to find out what the studio being represented has to say about the letters (you'll be surprised).
It’s that time of year again, Max PC readers. It’s time for stuffing ourselves, watching football, and—if "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" has taught us anything— it’s time to give thanks. As tech fans, we take a lot for granted, so we felt like taking a step back and examining all the things that are making a nerd’s life better right now.
Read on to check out our list of 17 things techies should be thankful for, then hit the comments and let us know what we missed.
If you've logged into YouTube today, you may have noticed that the embedded video player looks wider. That's because it is. In a blog post, YouTube announced it has widened the width of the page to 960 pixels in response to customer feedback, but that might only be part of the story.
According to reports, YouTube is looking to offer feature films by as early as next month and has already convinced one major Hollywood movie studio to jump on board. By upgrading its video player to support widescreen content, YouTube puts itself in a better position to pitch its service to even more content producers and better compete with other video sites like Hulu. Hulu, despite trailing YouTube by a wide margin in the number of viewers, is on track to catch up to YouTube in advertising revenue next year.
In the meantime, for those that prefer to watch crappy amateur videos in the 4:3 aspect ratio, YouTube ensures they will play just fine in the new player.
Good move for YouTube? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Want to kill some time, but tired of playing good games? We feel you. We recently decided it would be fun to try and come up with a list of the seven worst free games on the internet. However, we quickly discovered that trying to make a list of the worst anything on the internet is sort of like trying to make a list of the worlds largest numbers. That is to say, there’s an infinite amount of terribleness on the internet.
So, since we decided that coming up with a list of the worst games was too enormous a task for just us to handle, Maximum PC EIC Will Smith used his Twitter account to ask for help. Naturally, the MaxPC faithful delivered in spades. We received a whole bunch of seriously awful submissions, tried them out for ourselves, and had an office-wide vote to pick the most truly, hilariously bad games of the bunch. Now, we get to share them with you.
Classmates.com user Anthony Michaels must have felt like he really left an impression on his former friends from school. After all, the social network service was emailing Michaels to let him know his past acquaintances were viewing his profile and trying to get in touch in with him, only he'd need to upgrade his membership to find out who and to be able to email these individuals. Fair enough, he thought, but after dropping $15 on a Gold Membership, Michaels claims the whole thing was a scam and in fact no one from his past was either viewing his profile or trying to contact him.
"Upon logging into his Gold Membership profile in order to view the classmate contacts … Plaintiff discovered that in fact, no former classmate of his had tried to contact him or view his profile," the complaint reads. "Of those www.classmates.com users who were characterized ... as members who viewed Plaintiff's profile, none were former classmates of Plaintiff or persons familiar with or known to Plaintiff for that matter."
Sad for Michaels? Yes. But did Classmates.com break any laws? Several, according to the San Diego resident's lawsuit, in which Classmates.com is being accused of intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and violation of California business and professions code. Not to mention being a meanie head.
The suit alleges that there are hundreds of thousands of users just like Michaels who have been tricked into purchasing a membership to Classmates.com. The lawsuit asks the court to both refund millions in subscription feesand fine the company for its alleged deceptive advertising.
Does this lawsuit have merit? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.