July 11, 2004

Flying Saucer Smashes Into L.A.-Area Electronics Store!

Greetings. Fry's Electronics stores frequently are "themed" in unique ways in terms of interior decor. Here in the L.A. area, the Redondo Beach store has a "Polynesian" theme, while the Woodland Hills store goes in for the "Alice in Wonderland" look.

The Fry's that opened in Burbank has its own unique style. Befitting its location in the heart of L.A.'s Film/TV/Aerospace Industrial Complex, it offers an imaginative Science Fiction look, complete with a rendition of "Gort" the robot from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" standing inside amongst a wide variety of other decorations honoring SF and also aerospace themes.

But it's the outside of this particular Fry's that really grabs your attention. It features the appearance of a crashed alien spacecraft (or, the more cynical might suggest, a secret U.S. Air Force vehicle from the nearby facilities that once housed Lockheed's "Skunk Works" and similar "black" project operations).

Either way, it makes for quite a front door.

None of this is to address the issues involved with actually dealing with Fry's to buy or return merchandise, which sometimes makes one think that their policies were actually designed by outer space aliens with limited knowledge of Earthling sensibilities. But that's another story.


Posted by Lauren at 08:22 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

July 08, 2004

"Kenny Boy" Lay Finally Does the "Perp Walk"

Greetings. It doesn't make up for losing your money or job (or both), but former Enron employees and stockholders can hopefully get some minor satisfaction from seeing Ken ("Kenny Boy", as George W. Bush used to call him) Lay doing the perp walk in handcuffs after his indictment on numerous charges related to the massive collapse of Enron.

George, Jr.'s White House now claims that the current president didn't really know Kenny Boy all that well, even though Lay lent presidential candidate George W. his corporate jet eight times and was one of the largest contributors to his presidential campaign, and... well you get the idea.

Of course, the smug look on Kenny's face reminds us that there's a big difference between indicting someone like him and convicting him, especially with the financial resources that he can bring to bear. But we shall see.

Cuffs too tight, Ken?


Posted by Lauren at 09:50 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

July 01, 2004

Court Rules: No E-Mail Privacy at ISPs!

Greetings. It is impossible to overstate the potential significance of this federal appeals court action, as per this Washington Post story. The full text of the decision makes for depressing reading.

If generally upheld, it means that user e-mail stored at ISPs, even temporarily (Gmail, Hotmail, POP, IMAP, SMTP, etc.) is vulnerable to monitoring or other abuses, including use for competitive or even prurient purposes without notification to the persons whose e-mails are involved.

With many ISPs forcing more users (especially typical dynamic-IP customers) to route all mail through ISP servers (e.g., via blocking of port 25), the implications are staggering.

Though ISPs may claim privacy policies that prohibit such snooping, policies are subject to change, and the legal barriers for access to the mail by outside entities is also much lower in such cases.

While my hunch is that reaction to this ruling will be such that it will not stand, the underlying facts should be very clear. The most reliable and trustworthy path to secure e-mail is via direct, end-to-end, encrypted connections that are not forced to route through ISP mail servers. Such systems are one of the goals of the "Tripoli" project as proposed by PFIR. This court decision will also now be a topic at a legal issues panel at our "Internet Meltdown" conference late in July here in Los Angeles.

This is one of the worst and most dangerous court decisions ever to appear relating to the Internet.


Posted by Lauren at 10:27 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein