Assorted Links 4/18/10


Bill Black: Not Dead Yet – Part 5



Governor Christie on Death Threats, the Teachers Union, and New Jersey’s Budget Crisis

  • Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals, May 4, 2010
  • Advanced Media Relations, May 5, 2010
  • Public Affairs and the Internet: Advanced Techniques and Strategies, May 6, 2010
  • Crisis Communications Training, May 7, 2010
  • Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations, May 13, 2010
  • Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2010
  • Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, June 3, 2010
  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, June 4, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, June 9-11, 2010
  • Wi-Fi Classroom – How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents: Going Beyond Thomas, June 24, 2010
  • Wi-Fi Classroom – How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories: Searching for Legislative Intent, June 25, 2010
  • Persuading Congress: Candid Advice for Executives – “Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, is a very practical book, packed with wisdom and experience in a deceptively short and simple package.

    This book will help you understand Congress. Written from the perspective of one who has helped put a lot of bills on the president’s desk and helped stop a lot more, this book explains in everyday terms why Congress behaves as it does. Then it shows you how you can best deploy whatever resources you have to move Congress in your direction.”

  • Guest Post: Prospectus For The United States – Would You Invest? – “The tables summarizing our accounts are, of course, terrifying but nothing compared to our Risk Factors, which include:

    * Improper payments by the Federal government continue to increase despite the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002.

    * Material weakness from ineffective internal controls over financial reporting that resulted in a disclaimer of opinion by the Government Accountability Office.

    * The dollar may not continue to enjoy reserve currency status and may decline in the future.

    * The Federal Reserve, as part of its response to the financial crisis, may be exposed to signifcant credit risk.

    * Foreign official institutions hold a significant amount of U.S. Government debt.

    * The United States is the dominant geopolitical power and has significant overseas commitments.

    * The Government is exposed to large contingent liabilities from its intervention on behalf of various financial institutions during the 2008-2009 crisis.

    * Mandatory outlays for retirement insurance and health care are expected to increase substantially in future years.

    * Ratings agencies may withdraw or downgrade the U.S. Government’s current AAA/Aaa rating without notice.

    * The U.S. economy is heavily indebted at all levels, despite recent de-leveraging.

    * U.S. states and municipalities are experiencing severe economic distress and may require intervention from the Federal government.

    * Elected officials may not take necessary steps to ensure long-term debt sustainability and may take actions counter to the interests of bondholders.”

  • Small Business Optimism “Very Low and Headed in the Wrong Direction” – “If the US economy was about to reach ‘escape velocity’ as Larry Summers says, small business optimism would not be in the gutter and sinking.

    Thus, proof that Larry Summers is in Fantasyland can be found in a NFIB report that shows Small Business Optimism Declines in March.”

  • Georgia Insurance Commissioner Balks at Request on New Health Law – “The insurance commissioner of Georgia has chosen not to comply with a federal request to create a state pool for high-risk insurance plans, opening a new front in the resistance by state Republican officials to the new federal health care law.”
  • The California Tax Break Window – Combining California Tax Credit with Federal Credit for $18,000 in Tax Credits. Southern California Housing Update. Giving $200 Million in Home Buyer Tax Credits While the State has a $20 Billion Budget Gap. – “California in its infinite wisdom is allocating $200 million in tax credits for home buyers. This is a very generous credit since existing home owners can use the $10,000 credit on a new home and new buyers can use it on either an existing home purchase or a new property. And for a limited time, you will be able to combine the California tax credit with the expiring $8,000 federal credit (if you close escrow between May 1st and June 30th) for a stunning $18,000 reduction in taxes. But of course, most typical families will not use every penny of this credit and it is really a boost to a segment of our population that is doing better in this economic crisis (maybe we want to look at the 15 million unemployed first?). Do we also need to point out that California will now have $200 million less to plug the $20 billion budget gap?
    . . .
    So last month, roughly 40 percent of all home purchases in SoCal were FHA insured meaning absolutely rock bottom down payments. Another 27 percent were all cash buyers and I would imagine many are buying out in areas like the Inland Empire as investors. Most are looking to flip and this game is getting thin because the rental market is flooded in these areas. Investors are not looking to hold and are aiming to find a diamond in the rough, shine it up, and make some money on it quickly. This is the bulk from what I have seen. We do have cash flow investors in California but not many.”
  • Is making public data more accessible a threatening act? – “InfoUSA. Imagine a thought experiment where I downloaded the income, charitable donations, pets and military service information for all 89,000 Boulder residents listed in InfoUSA’s marketing database, and put that information up in a public web page. That’s obviously pretty freaky, but absolutely anyone with $7,000 to spare can grab exactly the same information! That intuitive reaction is very hard to model. Is it because at the moment someone has to make more of an effort to get that information? Do we actually prefer that our information is for sale, rather than free? Or are we just comfortable with a ‘privacy through obscurity’ regime?” ht O’Reilly Radar
  • “Contempt of cop” – “People are regularly charged with public disorderly conduct, breach of peace, or interference with a police officer and arrested and imprisoned by police officers for questioning their authority, asking questions, using profanity, or doing anything in general that pisses off the cop. Many people may not realize that all of the above is protected conduct under the First Amendment, unless the person’s conduct arises to the level of ‘fighting words,’ which is defined by the U.S. and S.C. Supreme Courts as conduct or words that would tend to immediately incite violence.

    This has been the law according to the United States and South Carolina Supreme Courts for over 30 years, and it is well established. The police know that this is the law – they are specifically trained on First Amendment law at the academy and they are told that they cannot arrest a person for speech unless the person speaking is causing violence.

    Despite this, they also know that most people can not afford to retain an attorney – that they will plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge in the morning and most likely pay a fine. They know that they have made their point – piss me off and you will spend the night in jail. Attorneys call it ‘contempt of cop’ – analogizing to ‘contempt of court,’ where a judge can put you in jail if you disrupt the courtroom. Police are not judges, and they have no such power.

    This widespread practice of police is an abuse of power. The problem is a lack of training, a lack of supervision, a lack of discipline in the police departments that allow it to happen.”

  • One more bad apple – “Given the recent slew of blog posts around the country on police abuse, this latest story is timely. Just another bad apple, the batch is fine:

    A Streamwood police officer has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct after a camera mounted on his squad car dashboard caught him repeatedly beating a motorist with his baton, prosecutors said.

    James Mandarino, 41, beat the motorist 15 times as the man knelt on the ground March 28, according to Assistant Cook County State’s Atty. Alexander Vroustouris. The man received seven stitches to his ear and was treated for a concussion and multiple contusions, abrasions and bruises, Vroustouris said.

    ‘At no time during the time period when the defendant is beating the victim with his baton does the video reflect that the victim had anything in his hands, nor does the video reflect the victim making any threatening motions toward the defendant,’ said Vroustouris. ‘The victim is completely compliant.'”

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1joImpo4l0

  • University of Maryland Beating Editorial – “McKenna was fortunate that his family had the resources to hire a private investigator to find the video. Not everyone is so lucky, and it makes the case for changing Maryland’s unanimous consent law for recording conversations, as this case highlights. Laws that prevent the recording of interactions with police prevent transparency in what is supposed to be an open and free society.”
  • Filing For Bankruptcy, Setting It To Music – “If banks are ‘too big to fail’ does that mean the rest of us are just the right size?”
  • Washington Post “Shopping Guide” is a very wasteful – “If you live in the Washington, DC, area, you probably receive ‘The Washington Post ‘Shopping Guide” in your mailbox.

    Or in the case of some of us, it is shoved through a mail slot, where it scatters all over the floor, and is a royal pain to pick up. Especially if you have a physical handicap.

    We have several acquaintances who have attempted to stop delivery of this hugely wasteful mailing, to no avail. And so have others: see ‘If You Don’t Get It, Good!’ in the Washington City Paper, by Erik Wemple, September 25, 2008.

    They have been unable to find a ‘remove me from this list’ option anywhere on the Washington Post site or the Washington Post Ads site, and thus this hugely wasteful mass of paper continues.”

  • Obama’s nuke summit dangerously delusional – “In years to come — assuming, for the purposes of argument, there are any years to come — scholars will look back at President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit and marvel. For once, the cheap comparisons with 1930s appeasement barely suffice: To be sure, in 1933, the great powers were meeting in Geneva and holding utopian arms-control talks even as Hitler was taking office in Berlin. But it’s difficult to imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia and Thailand …but not even mentioning Germany.

    Yet that’s what Obama just did: He held a nuclear gabfest in 2010, the biggest meeting of world leaders on American soil since the founding of the United Nations 65 years ago — and Iran wasn’t on the agenda.
    . . .
    Iran has already offered to share its nuclear technology with Sudan. Sudan? Ring a vague bell? Remember that ‘Save Darfur’ interpretative-dance fundraiser you went to, where someone read out a press release from George Clooney, and you all had a simply marvelous time? Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed — with machetes. That’s pretty labor-intensive. In the Congo, five and a half million have been slaughtered — and, again, in impressively primitive ways.

    But a nuclear Sudan would be a model of self-restraint?

    By the way, that’s another example of the self-indulgent irrelevance of Obama. The mound of corpses being piled up around the world today is not from high-tech nuclear states but from low-tech psycho states. It’s not that Britain has nukes, and poor old Sudan has to make do with machetes. It’s that the machete crowd are willing to kill on an industrial scale, and the high-tech guys can’t figure out a way to stop them. Perhaps for his next pointless yakfest the president might consider a machete nonproliferation initiative.
    . . .
    As we learned the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan, stupid, ill-trained illiterates with primitive explosives who don’t care who they kill can inflict quite a lot of damage on the technologically advanced highly trained warriors of civilized states. That’s the ‘asymmetric warfare’ that matters. So virtuously proclaiming oneself opposed to nuclear modernization ensures a planet divided into civilized states with unusable weapons and barbarous regimes happy to kill with whatever’s to hand.”

  • High-achieving students sailing through life without a degree – “Ponting is one of a new breed of high-achieving students who have looked hard at what higher education has to offer and decided that the innovative new courses available at their local further education college are plenty good enough.
    . . .
    so if high-achieving non-graduates are now able to get the same type of job as those who have a degree, why is higher education still seen as the be-all and end-all?

    Parental aspirations and pressure from teachers could be part of the reason, if a survey by student advice website www.notgoingtouni.co.uk is to be believed.

    Nearly three-quarters of 1,180 A-level pupils surveyed by the site said they felt going to university was viewed as a necessity rather than a choice. Over half said that parents contributed to this feeling, while a fifth said pressure from school was to blame.”

  • Switch College Admissions to a Single Lottery – “Now consider for a second that you are a high school junior and you see these rates. It’s becoming easier than ever to apply for multiple schools, so what is your rational course of action?

    You’re going to apply for tons of schools, thinking that at least one will let you in. And the next year, when the acceptance rates go even lower (they’ve been falling for years), students will apply to even more schools. The chances of any one student getting into any one school will become smaller and smaller, even as the number of spaces at those schools keeps pace with demographic changes. The spaces themselves are not becoming more scarce; it’s the admissions craze that’s making them look that way.
    . . .
    The medical residency program was solved by a coordinated matching system. All students and schools submitted their preferences to a national non-profit designed specifically for this purpose. Schools got their seats filled, and students were placed in one and only one university. There were no more waiting lists, no more lottery-like admissions processes held at individual schools. The system has been in place with few changes ever since.

    To work for colleges and universities, they would have to see a problem. They would have to begin to understand that their admissions department cannot continue to grow apace with applications. It’s simply too arbitrary of a process when Harvard gets more valedictorians and more students with perfect SAT scores than they have available seats.

    Next, they would have to accept that the admissions process is no longer about crafting the perfect freshman class as if each student was a Lego piece in a giant, fragile sculpture that would collapse without the perfect amount of Florida students, or oboists, or whatever else. We’re way beyond that now.

    Then, they would have to form some common admissions unit. Each school could submit their cutoff SAT scores and high school GPA. Students would apply to this third-party unit and list their preferences in order, and then a calculation would be run that would place students and fill school slots. Similar matching systems are run for 90,000 students applying for New York City public high schools, for the medical residency program, for fraternities and sororities, for kidney exchanges, and for college football bowl match-ups. It’ would not be impossible to create one for colleges and universities, and it would put an end to the madness we know as the college admissions process.”


The voices behind the Simpsons

  • Beyond parody: Lerach plans to teach law at Irvine – “Released from prison, the felonious class-actioneer plans to join Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s left-leaning new University of California law school to lecture students on the topic of ‘Regulation of Free Market Capitalism — Why Have We Failed?’. He also apparently intends to claim the time spent in this propagandistic effort toward his community service obligation.”
  • Research Finds STEM Classes Have Lower Grades, Higher Dropouts – “Research recently presented at the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute conference shows that low grades in introductory STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — classes “push” students away from their STEM majors. Ben Ost grad conducted the study, which demonstrates how grading gaps between science and non-science courses encourage higher STEM dropout rates.
    . . .
    While some students in his sophomore-level engineering courses changed majors after receiving low grades, Prof. Nicholas Zabaras, mechanical and aerospace engineering, said dropout rates in higher-level classes were near zero because juniors and seniors know what to expect.

    When asked about the necessity of difficult grading in STEM courses, Zabaras said, ‘Do you want to fly on a plane that was designed by someone who is lazy? Do you want a doctor who is clueless? The problem should not be addressed at the university level; it should be addressed in high school.'”

    Uh oh. We need grade inflation in STEM courses!

  • Turning the Other Cheek: North Face v. South Butt – “St. Louis-area native Jimmy Winkelmann, now a freshman at the University of Missouri Columbia, started The South Butt to help pay for college. When The North Face’s trademark action against Jimmy and retailer Williams Pharmacy followed, Jimmy’s attorneys offered a highly original and colorful answer, including at least 7 non-salacious synonyms for ‘butt’ and reproducing the company’s ‘disclaimer’:

    We are not in any fashion related to nor do we wish to be confused with The North Face Apparel Corp. or its products sold under ‘The North Face’ brand. If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and a butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.”

  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 – “The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado WRHS1970.com”
  • Common Market Food Co-op – “Common Market Food Co-op was a ‘new wave food co-op’ located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 – 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the early 1970s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street.”
  • The Blind Side – ” I came away from these experiences more convinced than before that major, rewrite-the-rules change is imminent in this marketplace, and that some current institutions simply won’t survive in recognizable form. You should read the media accounts of the Georgetown Law Firm Evolution event, from observers like Aric Press, Rachel Zahorsky, Ron Friedmann, Greg Bufithis , and various Twitter correspondents (as well as a response from Robert Sawhney), to get a sense of the scope of change that was discussed.

    But for me, the penny dropped during the dinnertime address by Richard Susskind, whose remarks included a heartfelt plea for conference delegates to lead a change for the better that the profession and justice system desperately need. One of Richard’s topics was the Legal Services Act in England & Wales, and its soon-to-be-active provisions allowing alternative business structures (ABSs), including non-lawyer equity investment in law firms and legal enterprises (here’s a sampling of articles, from last September to last week, describing scenarios under which law firms might invite such investment).
    . . .
    For many other firms, though, the challenges are extremely serious. The prospect that emerges from all this is a legal services marketplace in which many law firms are simply irrelevant — they’re not structured in ways that deliver maximum value to clients and they can’t compete with rivals that are. There was a lot of talk at the Georgetown event about whether ‘BigLaw is dead,’ and I have to agree with those managing partners who dismissed the notion: these firms are obviously up and about and making a great deal of money, and it’s absurd to pretend they’re dead men walking.

    The worry, for me, is that many firms, of all sizes, aren’t ready for the radical ways in which the playing field is about to change. Their focus is either straight ahead, on their clients, or internal, on their own condition and competitiveness. They’re like a quarterback whose gaze is either locked downfield on his receivers or focused dead ahead on the defenders in his path. As a result, he never sees the hit coming, from his blind side, that flattens him and turns the ball over to the other team. It’s not just lawyers and clients who matter anymore. New players, with an unprecedented combination of size and speed, are charging onto the playing field like a storm and rewriting the rules of the game as they come.”

  • Dog Gone Sinners – “Ever watch that dog whisperer fellow? Sister Mary Fiacre loves watching that man. I think she likes all the dogs. The dog whisperer is a dog trainer who has a TV show where he goes to some one’s house who has an incorrigible dog and the second he gets there, the dog behaves for him. Then he has to teach the owners to treat the dog like a dog and not a furry person who eats off the floor.

    His motto is that the dog is a dog first, then a specific breed of dog, then your pet. Or something like that. Dogs are pack animals and once the owner understands that he is the pack leader and not the daddy of the dog, things fall into place. Just because a dog is a dog doesn’t mean we allow the dog to eat our shoes.”


Felony Charges for Recording a Plainclothes Officer

  • Verizon and Sprint handled 16 billion more MB of data than AT&T in 2009 – “AT&T might be the first carrier you think of when you picture the largest mover of wireless data in the US, but according to a new study published by ABI Research, the honor actually belongs to Verizon. In fact, not only does Verizon beat out AT&T, but so does Sprint with the two networks having handled a grand total of 63% of wireless data in 2009. To give you a idea of how much data that equates to, last year Verizon and Sprint moved a whopping 16 billion MB (or 15,625,000 TB) more data than AT&T.”
  • The Number of People Giving Up TV for the Web Is Slowly Gaining Pace – “A new report estimates that some 800,000 American households now watch TV only via the Web, as the move to abandon cable, satellite or OTA broadcasts starts to gather pace. This represents a small percentage of the pay TV industry’s 101 million subscribers, but the number is expected to double by the end of next year. These are the earliest adopters, though, and they account for just 3 percent of all full-episode online television viewing — meaning that plenty of people are already supplanting their standard TV viewing with online episodes. It’s clear already (and has been for some time) that TV viewers are undertaking a fundamental change in how they want to access and view content. The combination of the Web and DVRs allowing on-demand viewing has made the linear TV channel something of an outdated concept, and at some point, TV providers will need to realize that on-demand shows are now how a growing number of people want to receive their programming.”
  • Prexiso X2 Laser Distance Measurer – “The X2 measures with an accuracy ≤ ± 1/8″ over a range of 4″ to 100′. It can display the results in feet & inches, inches, or meters. It also — as you might expect from this company — calculates: areas, volumes, and, via Pythagoras, indirect measurements of height (measure to top; measure to bottom; it solves for height) or width (measure near point; measure far point; it solves for width) — you measure two sides of a right triangle, and it calculates the third side.”
  • Consumers Like Medical Toys Too – “A new segment of medical technology has been born and its infantile life is being coddled and shaped — not by incumbents in the world of healthcare technology — but largely by entrepreneurs. They’re creating products to fill a void not possible with yesterday’s technology, a space previously untapped, and the early results are in: consumers are ripping open their wallets to take advantage of the benefits these products provide. The big players in the medical technology world would be smart to take notice, both for their own benefit and the benefit of consumer health.
    . . .
    Another player that has their product flying off the shelves is Fitbit, a pedometer on steroids that allows you to monitor how active your daily habits are, how many calories you’re burning, and if you toss and turn in your sleep, all on a simple and attractive web interface. The data collected from the Fitbit is automatically and wirelessly synced with your computer, allowing you to never think about the device besides when it needs to be charged, a fantastically infrequent once every ten or so days. In one swoop, the Fitbit rethought the pedometer, taking the device from a simple step-counter with one readout, to a detailed accelerometer collecting a flood of data allowing a more precise glimpse into your daily activity. You’d think that a $99 pedometer might not sell well, but the current one month wait to get your hands on one says otherwise.

    Then there’s the Withings wifi scale that automatically uploads your weight and fat composition so you can access it either through an online web application or via the device’s very own iPhone application. This sort of precise tracking allows the consumers to monitor their progress and set goals over time. Again, at $159, this is a high-end scale, yet the demand is there and it’s gotten significant attention, once again showing that personal data tracking is useful and consumers want an easy way to monitor their health and habits.”

  • More No-Depression Alt-History – “A couple of years ago I posted some speculations dealing with the alternative-history topic of what if the Great Depression had only been a normal recession. I mostly focused on possible political consequences; now, I want to ponder art, architecture, industrial design and such.

    Many people might assume that the Depression stifled innovation, but that might not be so. Histories of the Industrial Design field suggest that the dramatic slowdown in sales pushed many manufacturers to try almost anything to entice buyers — including hiring those artistes such as Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Henry Dreyfuss and Walter Dorwin Teague for product design modernization. If this speculation is true, then the non-Depression alternative would have been, say, a much longer timeline from boxy to quasi-streamlined automobiles. (‘If our stuff’s selling well, what’s the point in making radical changes?’)

    On the other hand, prosperity could not have prevented consolidation in the automobile industry: that process is unavoidable, if history is any guide. But the consolidation process would surely have slowed. Also, the surviving companies might have been different. For example, Hudson was a strong seller at the end of the 1920s and, with a few judicious mergers, might have been a strong fourth after General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Or perhaps Studebaker might have filled that role.”

  • Kushi Izakaya (DC) – “I am very enthusiastic about this place, which serves up surprisingly genuine Japanese menus. The omikase is only $60 and every one of the courses was excellent. Very good sashimi. Most of the restaurant is devoted to a’la carte and small courses. They cook with wood, charcoal, and sous vide, no gas. Overall the seafood is more special than the meats. Excellent décor. Right now this is one of the best places to go in [DC].”
  • Gallery: 8 Tablets That Aren’t Made by Apple – “Few product categories get a second chance to make it big. Wristwatch calculators, 8-track tapes, mopeds, unicycles and Polaroid film are never going to be wildly popular again. But tablets are poised to make the kind of comeback that would make Robert Downey Jr. proud.

    PC makers have offered slates and convertible notebooks for nearly a decade, and they’ve never caught on. But now, a new generation of attractively designed and low-priced screens are looking to lure in consumers. Most of these sleek slabs of glass rely on simplified touch interfaces and will probably work best as content consumption devices: Something you’d use for reading, web browsing and watching movies.

    The new generation of tablets might just pull it off. So far, Apple has sold more than 500,000 iPads and it says it can’t keep up with the demand, suggesting that computer makers are right to jump on this trend now.

    As they do, they’re exploiting the iPad’s weaknesses. Typing on the iPad isn’t easy and it is an underpowered device for its price tag — the same money could buy you a nice laptop. Its browser doesn’t support Adobe Flash, and you can’t run software on it unless that software comes from Apple’s App Store.

    So if you don’t want to buy into the Apple hype machine, there are plenty of alternatives. From Dell to HP, almost every major PC manufacturer is working on a tablet. And there’s no dearth of upstarts. Asian brands and European startups are vying to get their tablets out, too.

    Wired looks at some of the most interesting screens that will get into consumers’ hands this year.”

  • Be careful swallowing that tablet – “Unlike the other two tablets, the iPad is unable to surf sites built around Flash technology — used widely for video clips and interactive content. This is not necessarily as inconvenient as it sounds. Many of the most popular Flash websites, including YouTube, offer dedicated apps for the iPad, so you can still enjoy what they have to offer.

    To type messages or write documents, tablets use virtual keypads that pop up onscreen when you need them. Forget about touch-typing on any of them, though, as hitting small keys on a flat screen is no substitute for a physical keyboard. The iPad does at least offer a clever auto-correct feature that learns to recognise and rectify your most common typing mistakes, making it the fastest virtual keyboard here.

    Tablets have been touted as replacements for ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle but even the iPad — which is the lightest of the three at 680g (1½lb) — is too heavy for one-handed reading. The iPad does show promise, however, when handling specially created interactive books, as opposed to staid text-on-a-page. Colourful children’s ebooks, in particular, were beautifully rendered within Apple’s free iBooks app.
    . . .
    Verdict: Gorgeous for sofa-surfing, but less portable than a smartphone and less practical than a laptop.”

  • Researcher warns of impending PDF attack wave – “A design flaw in Adobe’s popular PDF format will quickly be exploited by hackers to install financial malware on users’ computers, a security company argued today.

    The bug, which is not strictly a security vulnerability but actually part of the PDF specification, was first disclosed by Belgium researcher Didier Stevens last week. Stevens demonstrated how a multistage attack using the PDF specification’s “/Launch” function could successfully exploit a fully-patched copy of Adobe Reader.
    . . .
    In a blog post Tuesday, Adobe Reader group product manager Steve Gottwals recommended that consumers block attacks by unchecking a box marked ‘Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications’ in the programs’ preferences panes. By default, Reader and Acrobat have the box checked, meaning that the behavior Stevens exploited is allowed.

    Gottwals also showed how enterprise IT administrators can force users’ copies of Reader and Acrobat into the unchecked state by pushing a change to Windows’ registry.”

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