Author
 Mitch Wagner

Profile of Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading
News & Commentary Posts: 1161

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

Articles by Mitch Wagner
posted in November 2006

Lovin' An Elevator -- Or Not

11/30/2006
New elevators in skyscrapers with multiple banks of lifts don't have buttons inside them -- instead, you punch in your destination while you're calling the elevator, and the controlling computer directs people to cars that are going to floors that are close to each other.


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Cooliris: It's A Keeper

11/30/2006
I've been using Cooliris for about a day now, and my verdict so far: it's a keeper.

Cooliris helps you check out a page to see if it's worth visiting. Cooliris is a browser plug-in that lets you mouse over Web links and get a pop-up window that shows the Web page on the other end of that link. It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.


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Visit Google's Super-Secret Experimental Playground: Searchmash

11/30/2006
Searchmash is Google's site for experimenting with new features in its core search business.

Visiting Searchmash, you're confronted with a mostly-blank page, with a logo, and a one-line text entry field inviting you to type a search query.

Enter a query and you get a single page that shows search results, with side-panels showing search results in images, blogs, videos, and Wikipedia.


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If An IT Manager Finds Kiddie Porn On The Company President's Computer, Should He Call The Cops?

11/29/2006
That's a question posed to the New York Times's "The Ethicist" column. The columnist, Randy Cohen, has a completely insane response: The IT manager should remain silent.

The questioner writes: "I am an Internet technician. While installing software on my company's computer network, I happened on a lot of pornographic pictures in the president's personal directory, including some of yo

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Best Comments From The IW Blog Community

11/29/2006
Our community participants speak out on the World of Warcraft French connection, Microsoft's litigation threats against Linux users, Apple's possible tablet PC, and employees Web surfing on company time.


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Gingrich: Government Needs To Limit Free Speech

11/29/2006
WCSH6 in Portland, Maine: "Gingrich Says Government May Have To Limit Speech In Terror War: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used a New Hampshire event dedicated to freedom of speech to say the United States will have to re-examine that constitutional right as it fights terrorism." He reportedly singled out the Internet as a channel that needs "a different set of rules."

This story has been making the rounds of the Int

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BitTorrent Raises $25 Million, Ousts Founder Bram Cohen

11/29/2006
TechCrunch is reporting that BitTorrent received $25 million in funding and ousted CEO Bram Cohen, who created the BitTorrent protocol. The company signed licensing agreements with Warner Bros., Paramount, and others to sell movies and TV shows priced starting at $1 each, and will put its software on DVRs, cable boxes, and wireless routers to allow BitTorrent users to download legal movies or

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Cooliris Is The Coolerest

11/29/2006
Cooliris is a browser extension that give you previews of links without clicking on them, by hovering the mouse pointer over the link, then moving your mouse pointer over a tiny little icon that appears when you hover the mouse over a link. It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

Cooliris reduces back-and-forths that result from clicking a link and finding out that the page is unsuitable or the link broken.

To get a look at Co

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TinyURL Comes To Firefox 2.0

11/28/2006
One of my favorite Firefox extensions has finally been updated for Firefox 2.0. TinyURL lets you make wicked long URLs into short ones, which are easier to e-mail to other people, post to newsgroups, or write down with a pen and paper.

For example: Consider this URL:

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DMCA Exemptions Leave Most Consumers Out In The Cold

11/27/2006
Late last Wednesday, while the rest of us were out shopping for last-minute Thanksgiving essentials, the U.S. Copyright Office let fly with a list of exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The exemptions provide much-needed relief for libraries, the disabled, researchers, and price-conscious cell phone users, but they are framed in excessively narrow terms, and they don't address the chief problems that the DMCA creates for most consumers.


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Your Tax Dollars At Work

11/27/2006
The developer of a new computer wargame developed by the U.S. Army says he was required to dumb down the enemy forces. "A new video game commissioned by the U.S. Army as a recruiting tool portrays the nation's military in 2015 as an invulnerable high-tech machine," said Wired News..

Gamers on Battlefront.com give the title good reviews, but complain about the game being paid for with their tax
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Not Quite Ready To Eat My Words On The Video iPod

11/22/2006
I got an e-mail yesterday from Philip "Swanni" Swann, president of TVPredictions.com, who I disagreed with in strong terms in a blog post more than 13 months ago. "Ha ha ha!" his e-mail said. "How does it feel to be eatin' them words now, biotch?"

Actually, no that's not what he said. He was very polite. He said: "After this week's Nielsen dismal report on the video iPod, are you planning an update on your Oct. 17, 2005 criticism of my predicti

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The Treo 680 Is Here

11/22/2006
The Treo 680 is here, available now with a contract from Cingular for $200 or, unlocked from Palm, for $400. As a Treo 650 user myself, the two most interesting features for me: Internal antenna, and, most intriguingly, the ability to decline calls with a text message, which sounds ever so much friendlier than just hitting the "REJECT!" button and sending the caller to Voicemail Hell.

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Who's The Stupid Megacorporation Now?

11/22/2006
Chevy marketers had this bright idea: As part of the campaign touting the Tahoe luxury SUV, they'd put some video clips and sound clips and stuff out there on the Web and invite users to come up with their own commercials. And the users responded -- with videos slamming the Tahoe for being an environment-destroying, terrorist-funding gas-guzzler, and ridiculing people who would buy the SUV. Sound like a marketing disaster, right? Actually -- not so much. Post a Comment

Chatroom Addiction? Huh?

11/20/2006
A former employee is suing IBM, which fired him after they caught him going into a chatroom. He says he's addicted to chatrooms, and IBM should have offered him counseling. He says it's a form of self-medication he uses because of his Vietnam-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He says IBM offers counseling for people with worse problems, such as alcoholism and drug addiction.

Read the article

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TiVo And Universal Advance The Copyright Conflicts

11/20/2006
There's been a lot of action recently in the ongoing copyright conflicts over distributing music, movies, and TV shows online. But the two most interesting developments have to do with TiVo introducing a new feature that amounts to hanging a "SUE ME" sign on their backs, and, separately, Universal finding an innovative, and possibly groundbreaking, legal strategy in its copyright lawsuit against MySpace.

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A New Twist On Link Exchanges

11/20/2006
I keep a personal blog, in addition to this one. It's just a friends-and-family blog, with a dozen or so regular readers. Maybe fewer. Sometimes I don't post on it for weeks at a time. This morning, I checked my personal e-mail account and found this variation on the old link-exchange technique for search-engine optimization, in relation to something I posted on my personal blog:

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Fleck Lets Users Annotate Web Pages

11/17/2006
Fleck lets users add notes to Web pages, viewable by other Fleck users. Unlike other Web-annotation services, it doesn't require you to download and install anything on your PC or in your browser.

TechCrunch writes:

This is a relatively crowded space, the two services I'm most familiar with for collaborative annotation are Post a Comment

Calcanis Leaving AOL

11/17/2006
Blogger-entrepreneur Jason Calacanis left AOL after chief executive Jonathan Miller was replaced.

Mr. Calacanis sold his company, Weblogs Inc., a network of blogs, to AOL last year and continued to run it from offices in Santa Monica, Calif. This year he took over Netscape.com, transforming it from a Web portal into a
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Apple iPhone: Mid-2007?

11/16/2006
FoxConn Electronics in China is lined up to manufacture the iPhone, Apple's rumored cell phone. They'll hit the market with 12 million units in the middle of next year. That's according to a report on CNN/Money. The guy from CNN/Money says he read an article in Chinese in the Commercial Times. So this is hardly reliable; don't whip out our credit cards just yet. OK, bloggers -- Post a Comment

China Lifts Wikipedia Ban

11/15/2006
China lifted its ban on Wikipedia and popularity is over the moon, with more than 1,200 users registering to contribute to the site every day.

Authorities had been blocking both the Chinese and the English versions of Wikipedia steadily since October 2005. The sites previously had been blocked in China only intermittently. The lengthy ban
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Cheap One-Laptop-Per-Child Assembly Line Gets Rolling

11/15/2006
The first 200 units in the low-cost One Laptop Per Child project rolled off the assembly line. Full mass production is due to start in the second quarter of 2007,

The OLPC laptop features a 2.6.19 Linux kernel, and an integrated user environment called Sugar that includes a web browser, a chat system, a simple word processor, and other basic software components. Additional applications will be availabl
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Nifty Download: 'Faviconize' Your Firefox Tabs

11/15/2006
The nifty Faviconize Tab extension minimizes the width of the label on a Firefox tab to just the favicon, to save space on your desktop. You can decide which URLs should alwas be "faviconized," and which ones should have their titles spelled out.

What's a favicon? Look to the top of your Firefox browser window right now. See the address bar? See the little "IW" immediately to the left of it? That's a favicon.

(Via
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Video: Here's What An Exploding Laptop Looks Like

11/13/2006
The gang at PCPitstop rigged up a notebook computer to make its battery explode. "If this were a real-life situation, the best strategy would be to move away from the laptop, quickly," the narrator says. Ya think?

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Universal Music Head Says iPod Owners Are Thieves

11/13/2006
"These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it," UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says.

Some may be thieves, but all iPod owners are customers and potential customers of UMG's product. Big media companies like Universal routinely think of their customers as the enemy, and they talk about it publicly. That's a good way to put yourself out of business.

(Via
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Is Management Consulting A Scam?

11/13/2006
Joel Spolsky writes that management consultants who hire on to big companies to improve IT are scamming the companies they work for:

A management consultant at Bain wrote me a nice email, that included the following sentence:

"Our team is conducting a benchmarking effort to gather an outside-in view on development performance metrics and best practice approaches to issues of
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Ajax13: New Online Office Suite

11/10/2006
Ajax13 joins the field of online office suites, including a word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, presentation software, and music player and manager.

I gave it a three-minute test drive, spending most of that time in the word processor, and here's what stands out: It's designed to look like

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Backup To E-Mail

11/8/2006
Backup to Email works like this: Right-click on any file in Windows and e-mail it to your Gmail account. It automatically splits files larger than 10 Mbytes. (Via Lifehacker, which says, "This is one of those head-smacking, why-didn't-anyone-think-of-this-sooner utilities.")


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It Won't Help You With Your Bar Tab, Though

11/8/2006
Tab Mix Plus is a Firefox extension that adds features like tab duplication, merging, focus control, and extended undo options to Firefox. You can also set it to force Web sites that want to open a new window to instead open a new tab. I find that last especially handy--we use publishing software called TeamSite from Interwoven to publish InformationWeek.com, and it frequently wants to open a new window; without Tab Mix Plus, I often end u

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What Abraham Lincoln Knew About E-Mail

11/8/2006
Abraham Lincoln and his generals relied on the telegraph to fight the Civil War. Lincoln's principles for "T-mail" make good rules for e-mail, writes Tom Wheeler.

Words are Important - When he used an electronic message Lincoln maximized its impact by using carefully chosen words. His August 1864 telegram to General Grant, "Hold on with a bull-dog grip, and chew and choke" could not have been more
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Special Report: Live From China

11/7/2006
One of the exciting things about life as an American here in the 21st century is the emergence of developing nations as economic and cultural powerhouses. For most of my life--for most of the 20th century--most Asian nations and other countries in the developing world fell into two categories: military threats, such as Japan, North Vietnam, and North Korea; and objects of pity and charity, such as India, Bangladesh, and China.

Of course, Japan emerged from that threat-or-victim trap aft

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In Which Both Google And Yahoo Get Dope-Slapped

11/7/2006
I decided to investigate Google Apps for Your Domain primarily so that I could access my personal e-mail using the Gmail interface, without having to resort to mail-forwarding or other workarounds. Apparently, it's a closed beta, and the application asked me a few questions about my "organization," which consists of me (well, there are also my alternate personalities and imaginary friends, but they don't use the

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Y2K-Like Bug Could Ground Space Shuttle

11/7/2006
NASA needs to launch the next shuttle mission on time, because if it doesn't get off the ground by Dec. 18, a computer bug could mean the 12-day mission has to slip until January. "The Shuttle was never expected to be in orbit as one year gives way to another, so the computers aren't set up to switch to a new 'Day One.' To the Shuttle, January 1 is just day 366." That would leave the shuttle out of synch with NASA's ground-base

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Yahoo Easter Egg

11/6/2006
The Yahoo logo has an Easter egg. Click on the top part of the exclamation mark on the logo, and hear the classic "Yahooooooooooo!" from the TV commercials. (Via SEORoundTable)


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Traffic Jam

11/6/2006
Two companies are looking to use cell phone location data to track traffic: "By using anonymous data from wireless providers to mark how fast cell-phone handsets are moving -- and overlaying that information with location data and maps -- IntelliOne and AirSage hope to offer more detailed information and pragmatic advice than other firms that monitor traffic through radar, helicopters or cameras. But some critics are

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