Excerpts from the blog Lost in the bailout melee was a bill that U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, introduced Monday to address intrusive...

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Excerpts from the blog

Lost in the bailout melee was a bill that U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, introduced Monday to address intrusive and inappropriate laptop snooping by the Border Patrol.

Smith’s statement in the news release:

“The chief responsibility of the United States government is to protect its citizens, and while doing so it is critical that we do not overshadow the obligation to protect the privacy and rights of Americans. This legislation will provide clear and common-sense legal avenues for the Department of Homeland Security to pursue those who commit crime and wish to do our country harm without infringing on the rights of American citizens. Importantly, it will provide travelers a level of privacy for their computers, digital cameras, cellular telephones and other electronic devices consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s values of liberty.”

Smith said the Travelers Privacy Protection Act is in response to a July 16 Homeland Security policy that “allows customs agents to ‘review and analyze’ the contents and files of laptops and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time ‘absent individualized suspicion.’ “

The policy came after reports of customs agents’ forcing people to hand over their laptops or phones “for lengthy periods of time while the devices were searched, and in some cases, contents of the devices copied. Reports have also surfaced that some devices had been confiscated and returned weeks or months later with no explanation.”

We’ll see if he can restore liberty and common sense.


Steve Ballmer’s candor about Microsoft’s earnings can be refreshing, or startling, depending on your perspective.

On Tuesday, he made comments at an event in Norway that suggest Microsoft is going to take a hit from the economic downturn.

He’s stating the obvious — “of course companies will spend less on software and technology if they’re suffering” — but I wonder what it says about Microsoft’s Oct. 23 earnings report.

Ballmer’s comments came before Microsoft closed up about 7 percent Tuesday, but his concerns about enterprise spending pushed SAP down 2 percent in Germany, according to a Reuters report.

An excerpt:

“We have a lot of business with the corporate sector as well as with the consumer sector and whatever happens economically will certainly effect itself on Microsoft,” he told Reuters.

“I think one has to anticipate that no company is immune to these issues,” he said, but declined to be more specific.

That’s a thin TV

If there’s still a market for fancy new television sets this fall, Sony will have it covered with a raft of new models it unveiled in Japan this week.

A 27-inch AMOLED model with a flexible screen drew some attention, but the flexible screens have been shown before.

More intriguing to mainstream buyers may be a new ultrathin Bravia ZX1 going on sale in a few months in Japan.

The ZX1 will presumably be available in the U.S. sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where it’s bound to make a big splash.

The screen is 40 inches but only an inch thick at its thickest point; much of the panel is just 9.9 millimeters thick.

It connects wirelessly to a separate tuner unit that streams 1080p content. The set will go on sale in Japan for about $4,500 in November, according to information from Japan magazine that was picked up by Electronista.

Now if only they could make the electrical connection wireless, you could hang one of these anywhere in your house without having to poke through walls and extend wires.

Sony’s also making a big push into Internet-connected TVs with the new models. Ethernet jacks are included on the new Bravia X1 line, for instance, and on the tuner module of the ZX1.

Surface surfaces

Seattle’s Hotel 1000 is installing one of Microsoft’s Surface tabletop computers this week, following the system’s local debut at the Sheraton in August.

Hotel 1000’s setting its Surface in a circular lobby area it calls the “Studio.” The system’s running custom software from local developer IdentityMine.

It’s tapping into Hotel 1000’s network to provide guest services and it will have a memory-card reader so guests can view and sort images from their digital cameras.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.