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1 March 2003
So, yesterday I ran across a cute piece on the horror of blimps, right? It was funny, I laughed, I posted it, I didn’t think much more about it.
I didn’t think much more about it until sometime late last night, when my wife woke me, urgently mumbling something.
“What?” I said, not understanding.
“marble maumsdli hay hwa!” she said in a tone that brooked no opposition.
I admit, I wasn’t very awake, but that tone certainly got my attention. “One more time.”
“There’s a man in our room!” she finally managed to get out.
That, of course, was the cue for my entire adrenal system to go into overload, activating the reptillian part of my brain designed for fight or flight. Out of the bed I leapt, ready to do battle! Show yourself, coward! Seeing no enemy in the room, I rushed into the bathroom, then the closets, then off to do a room-to-room search of the house.
Whoever he was, he would *not* escape.
By the time I’d finished the top floor, I remembered that Merrystar wasn’t really awake, so I slowed down. I checked the house for signs of entry, and then returned to bed.
“I’m really sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay, dear,” I replied, still shaking from the endocrine rush. “Go back to sleep.”
“Okay. I’m really sorry,” she mumbled, and went back to sleep.
I finally fell asleep thinking one must be careful what you post - you may end up reliving it soon thereafter. When your weblog spills over into the Big Room, bad things happen.
6 March 2003
Dean Allen: A bit hazy.
Evidence obtained by German hardware site tecChannel suggests a list of software installed on an XP machine is sent to Microsoft when users run Windows Update. When patches are downloaded, a few kilobytes of data are sent in the opposite direction over a secure SSL channel. Because the data is encrypted a simple packet sniffer can’t be used to see what this data contains. However tecChannel’s tecDUMP utility takes advantage of an undocumented WinInet API, enabling an examination of the data before it becomes encrypted. According to tecChannel, the information sent to Microsoft includes details of all the software installed in a machine, not only Microsoft applications. The latest version of Windows Update Privacy Statement (which dates from last October) states: “Windows Update must collect a certain amount of configuration information from your computer”. This configuration information includes OS version number, IE version number and “version numbers of other software for which Windows Update provides updates” along with plug and play ID numbers and regional settings. But there’s no mention of collecting data on software from other vendors running on a machine. And this software can’t be updated using Windows Update. So why is Microsoft collecting this data?
Via Boing Boing.
7 March 2003
Toshiba Corporation today announced the world’s first prototype of a small form factor direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) for portable PCs, a clean energy breakthrough with the potential to end reliance on rechargeable batteries. The new fuel cell currently realizes average output of 12W and maximum output of 20W, and can achieve approximately five hours of operation with a single cartridge of fuel. It provides instant power supply, and achieves significant advances in operating times with replaceable methanol cartridges.
Via Boing Boing.
Last week, Salling released a clunkily named but surprisingly versatile piece of software for Mac OS X called the Sony Ericsson Clicker, which turns a Bluetooth-equipped Sony Ericsson cell phone into a universal remote for the Mac — and more.
Bluetooth is a short-range radio technology that lets devices communicate wirelessly within 30 feet of each other. Apple’s latest Macs have Bluetooth built in, and older models can be made Bluetooth-compatible with a USB plug-in.
Using scripts freely available on the Net, Salling’s $10 software can be set up to make the machine play music automatically when owners enter the room, and pause it when they leave (as long as they’re carrying their cell phone).
For over one hundred years, copyright law meant to strike a fair balance between the interests of copyright holders and the interests of society. On the one hand, copyright seeks to encourage and reward an author’s creative works. But as the Supreme Court stated in Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, “[p]rivate motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts.…”
The challenge today is to maintain the traditional balance in the digital age by finding ways to prevent and punish digital pirates without treating every consumer as one. Digital technology lets pirates make perfect copies of copyrighted works to distribute over the Internet. At the same time, digital technology lets copyright holders control how consumers enjoy the books, music and movies they lawfully purchase.
Contrary to the intent of Congress, the DMCA has been used to legitimize this control over consumer uses. It’s been used to prohibit lawful users from circumventing technical restrictions, even to pursue their fair use rights. This conduct altered the balance. My bill, H.R. 1066, the Balance Act, seeks to restore it. Without utilizing government mandates or other prescriptive measures that will ultimately only stifle innovation, it gives lawful consumers the tools to enjoy digital entertainment in their home or car, or on their favorite mobile device. Consumers have demanded this flexibility. It is time to heed their demands.
If you agree with her, don’t forget to write your representative and let him or her know.
10 March 2003
Aaron Swartz’s Google Weblog: A Day Without Google:
Duncan: A World Without Google
Matt: Google Server Error - Feels like a little earthquake
Hixie: The end is nigh
It’s not time to panic … yet.
11 March 2003
A fascinating proposition: that a thoroughly loathsome and reprehensible person might make a worthy and capable President of the United States.
13 March 2003
Come and get it: Mozilla 1.3 is out. New in this release:
- Mozilla Mail has junk-mail classification. With some initial “training” the client can identify and segregate spam messages from good messages. To see more about Mozilla’s junk-mail classification, visit the Mozilla Spam Filtering page.
- Newsgroup filters have been implemented.
- An initial implementation of Mozilla Midas, rich text editing controls, have landed in Mozilla for 1.3. See the Midas page for more information.
- Image auto sizing allows a user to toggle between full-sized images and images sized to fit the browser window. To give it a try, load a large image into the browser window or size the window to be much smaller. Now clicking on the image will alternate between auto-sized and full-sized.The feature can be disabled (or enabled) from the Appearance panel in Preferences.
- Users can now “dynamically” switch profiles. To give it a try, from the tools menu select “Switch Profile…”
- Find as you type, formerly known as type ahead find, has a new preferences panel (Advanced: Keyboard Navigation).
- When installed, Chatzilla now has a normal Mozilla preferences panel.
- Mozilla 1.3 also includes fixes for performance, standards compliance and site compatability.
Download it now.
14 March 2003
Several wonderful parodies of the ready.gov site:
Stay away from Austin, Texas. No reason.
- Reinterpreting ready.gov.
15 March 2003
However dour the strategy of containment and attrition, the French did not hesitate to mobilize in 1939, and they did not shrink from fighting even in the face of overwhelming odds in 1940. In the space of three weeks, some 100,000 men died defending their country from the German invaders. From four to eight million civilians fled their homes; an unknown number died in the exodus.
In the end, the French endured four and a half years of German occupation. Between the initial carnage of the invasion, reprisal killings of civilians, and general Nazi atrocities, some 300,000 civilians were murdered. This is in addition to the 200,000 French soldiers killed during the initial invasion and in the many subsequent battles where Free French divisions saw combat.
Compare this to the total of 300,000 American military deaths, on all fronts, for the entire Second World War.
The people who fought Hitler fought bravely. The Poles, Danes, Belgians, British, Norwegians, Dutch and French were not cowards. The countries that survived German attack survived thanks to geography â€” for Britain, the English Channel; for the Soviet Union, the vast Eurasian steppes. And still those countries were nearly defeated.
There are many true and uncomfortable things you can say about France in the Second World War. Vichy was a criminal regime, and France has not fully come to terms with that painful part of its history. French political leaders in the 1930’s left the country passive and exposed to a German attack that could have been deterred. But to say that, when war did come, the French lacked courage, is to spit on the graves of noble people.
18 March 2003
From the New Mexico State Legislature: A Joint Memorial Affirming Civil Rights and Liberties; Declaring Opposition to Federal Measures That Infringe on Civil Liberties:
F. direct the state official in charge of homeland security for New Mexico to seek periodically from federal authorities the following information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of the state of New Mexico and provide to the legislature and the interim corrections oversight and justice committee, no less than once every six months, a summary of the information obtained:
(1) the names of all residents of New Mexico who have been arrested or otherwise detained by federal authorities as a result of terrorism investigations since September 11, 2001, and:
(a) the location of each detainee;
(b) the circumstances that led to each detention;
(c) the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee; and
(d) the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;
(2) the number of search warrants that have been executed in New Mexico without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to Section 213 of the USA Patriot Act;
(3) the extent of electronic surveillance carried out in the state pursuant to powers granted in the USA Patriot Act;
(4) the extent to which federal authorities are monitoring political meetings, religious gatherings or other activities within New Mexico that are protected by the first Amendment of the United States constitution;
(5) the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in New Mexico pursuant to Section 507 of the USA Patriot Act;
(6) the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in New Mexico pursuant to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act; and
(7) the number of times records of books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in New Mexico pursuant to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act;
Via Boing Boing.
Washington Post: A Radical Formula for Teaching Science:
By just about every standard for K-12 science textbook writing, Joy Hakim is breaking all the rules.
…Textbooks often are collections of facts and vocabulary words — one, for example, has long lists of such esoteric words as “saprophyte” and “commensalism” — but hers is a narrative about scientists and their effect on the world.
With stories that build on each other to explain the progression of scientific thought, Hakim is offering a new kind of science book, using a model she first employed with an award-winning series of American history texts. Tentatively titled “The Science Story,” the first three books focus on key scientists from the early Greeks to today’s contemporaries, explaining how scientific thought has changed.
20 March 2003
We are now seriously asked to accept that in the last few years, contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence, he decided unilaterally to destroy the weapons. Such a claim is palpably absurd.
1441 is a very clear resolution. It lays down a final opportunity for Saddam to disarm. It rehearses the fact that he has been, for years in material breach of 17 separate UN resolutions. It says that this time compliance must be full, unconditional and immediate. The first step is a full and final declaration of all WMD to be given on 8 December.
I won’t to go through all the events since then - the house is familiar with them - but this much is accepted by all members of the UNSC: the 8 December declaration is false. That in itself is a material breach. Iraq has made some concessions to cooperation but no-one disputes it is not fully cooperating. Iraq continues to deny it has any WMD, though no serious intelligence service anywhere in the world believes them.
PN: So, likewise, if the world called on us to do something, such as find a peaceful solution, we would have an obligation to listen?
WM: By “world”, I meant the United Nations.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the United Nations?
WM: By “United Nations” I meant the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the Security Council?
WM: I meant the majority of the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the majority of the Security Council?
WM: Well… there could be an unreasonable veto.
Consider and discuss.