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Monday, February 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Technology Briefs
Microsoft looks for ways to make spam expensive


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Microsoft, which has declared war on spam, aims to raise the cost of spam for spammers with a technology targeting the low barrier to sending mass messages.

Currently, it costs virtually the same amount to send one message as it does 1 million. The world's largest software maker is looking at ways to make it difficult for spammers to spread offers for get-rich-quick schemes, porn and penis-enlargement products.

"The general idea is to force the sender of an e-mail to incur some kind of cost," said Cynthia Dwork, a senior researcher at Microsoft's Silicon Valley facility.

The concept would be for an e-mail sender's computer to be required to spend about 10 seconds solving a complex math problem and attaching proof of the effort to a message.

For most users sending anywhere from a few to several dozen e-mails daily, that doesn't amount to much computation time. Spammers who send millions of messages, however, would have to buy racks of computers.

New download makes it easier to erase changes

The ability to see who has worked on a document, and what changes and suggestions each person has made, is great when many employees collaborate on projects. But that level of detail can backfire on a company if the file is circulated outside corporate walls, revealing internal squabbles and embarrassing editing catches.

Microsoft previously offered relatively cumbersome instructions for erasing changes and comments made in its Office suite, which includes Word and Excel. Now, a free download available lets users more easily erase such "hidden" data.

Dan Leach, group product manager for the Microsoft unit that includes Office, said customers like the collaborative functions, but "we want to make sure people can turn it off."
 
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From www.microsoft.com/downloadsclick on "Office and Home Applications," then select "Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data."

RealNetworks reaches deal to make game portal available

Seattle-based RealNetworks is expected to announce today that a customized version of its RealArcade Internet game portal is available to customers of Optimum Online, the high-speed Internet service in New York City from Cablevision Systems.

About 1 million Optimum Online customers can now access and purchase about 200 downloadable games. RealNetworks announced a similar agreement last May with Comcast.

Kodak kiosks to develop 35mm film in minutes

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The latest advance in old-fashioned photography is a self-service kiosk that can convert a roll of 35mm film into prints in as little as seven minutes.

Eastman Kodak's Picture Maker film-processing stations will be test-marketed in Detroit this month, with a full-scale rollout later this year in pharmacies, supermarkets and photo-specialty shops across the United States and Europe.

The kiosks appear designed to plug a gap between photography's old and new ways perhaps slow the faster-than-expected migration to digital cameras.

Customers will be able to preview, crop, enlarge and tidy up snapshots, then print only those they want — a benefit digital camera users already enjoy. Instead of negatives, the machines will store the photos on a digital CD.

Digital cameras outsold film cameras for the first time in the United States in 2003, the Photo Marketing Association said. Some 200 million fewer rolls of film were processed last year compared with 781 million in 2000.

The conventional photography business still provides Kodak with most of its profits.

SCO Group adds 2 claims to its lawsuit against IBM

The SCO Group last week added two claims of copyright infringement to its year-old, $3 billion lawsuit against IBM, lifting potential damages to $5 billion, according to court documents.

The Lindon, Utah, software company claims IBM breached trade secrets by using parts of the Unix operating system, which SCO claims to own, in software that eventually wound up in Linux, the operating system that can be used and modified freely.

SCO is claiming in two counts that IBM infringed on its copyright to Unix, at the core of the dispute over whether Linux contains copyrighted software code.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells in Salt Lake City is expected to rule within a week whether SCO will be allowed to add the new claims to its lawsuit.

IBM has countersued SCO, which has also threatened to sue businesses using Linux unless they pay a license fee.

Record-industry investigators raid Kazaa offices in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia — Investigators from the Australian record industry raided the Sydney offices of Internet file-swapping network Kazaa on Friday in search of evidence to support copyright-infringements allegations.

The raid was conducted under a rarely used law that allows litigants in civil copyright cases to gather evidence.

Major Australian record labels had court approval to raid 12 premises to collect evidence against Kazaa, said Michael Speck, general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations.

Speck said the recording industry would launch a civil action against Kazaa tomorrow.

In a statement, Kazaa owner Sharman Networks said it was complying with the court orders but was appealing them.

In December, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that Kazaa's makers cannot be held liable for copyright infringement of music or movies swapped on its free software. In the U.S., a federal case against Kazaa is pending.

Compiled from Seattle Times technology staff and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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