Ebay to Feds: Our Data == Your Data
The Register is reporting that in a closed door meeting at Cybercrime 2003 , Jophn Sullivan stated that "We don't make you [law enforcement] show a subpoena, except in exceptional cases." He goes on to say that clicking on "I agree" in the user agreement gives them the right to give out any and all information about you to legal atourities without any judicial oversight. ( submitted 9/20/03)
An eye for an ey, a tooth for a tooth. That seems to be the way things are handled in the middle east. Palestinians blow up isralies, israelis blow up palestinians, shiites get revenge on sunnis for pas transgressions and vise verse. Im sure all the pwople who got revenge for the loss of a family member or some other slight feel much better now. Yeah right, revenge wont bring people back, it just leads to more heartache as the person you killed's family kills you or one of yours. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The only problem with that is pretty soon everyone is blind and toothless.
The 60000 year itch
There are well over 6 billion humans on the planet today. In all of human history there have lived perhaps 12-15 billion humans on the planet. Its quite plausible to say that half of the humans that have ever lived are alive today. Civilization started about 8000 years ago as far as we know. I was out looking at mars tonight and I wondered: What was earth like the last time mars was this bright in the sky? Think of all that has changed since then. I saw planes flying by, lights obscuring my view, a pneumonia stricken bum coughing nearby. 60000 years ago the spot where I was standing was possibly covered with miles of ice, or roaming with wolly mamoth and proto humans. Then I turned my gaze forward: What will life be like in another 60000 years? All of human civilization rose in 1/6th fo that time. How many civilizations will rise and fall? How many wars will be fought and won, fought and lost over a little corner of this rock? What religions will be created, what religions will fade into myth and from myth into obscurity?Will we even still be here? or will we have destroyed ourselves? I hope that the next time mars is this close to the earth there will be people on Mars wondering what mars was like 60000 years ago when it was this close to earth. And just maybe they will be thinking the same things I am now.
Female Iraqi Geek Starts Blog
Following on the heels of Salam Pax and his friend G, Riverbend, a young woman in Baghdad, has started a blog on her daily experiences. Her latest posting tells how she lost her job at a local software company after the war due to her femaleness. I think this was the most heartbreaking blog entry I've ever read. Submitted to the main page 8/25/03
Ski on the fourth of july
Apart from our friends in the southern hemisphere, ski slopes that are open in July are unusual. According to this article from the boston globe, skiing in July may get a bit more common. A small ski area in New Hampshire is experimenting with a Japanese snow making machine that works regardless of the temperature. Opening day was July fourth weekend, with temps in the 90's (submitted to the main page 7/28/03)
US vote tallying machines compromised?
A New Zealand webzine has an interesting article on how machines in the US that electronically tally and report the votes on election night have a large software backdoor that could allow malicious users to modify vote results without anyones knowledge. In case of slashdotting, mirror is here (submitted to the main page 7/9/03)
Phd. Dissertation vs National Security
Imagine this scenario: You're working on your Phd. Dissertation, with a topic so boring to normal people that you cant talk about it with friends and relatives for fear of placing them into a deep coma. Suddenly, 9/11 happens, and now your boring disssertation is threatened with being classsified by the government , CEO's are threatening to not let your laptop out of the building and Osama bin Laden would give up his 70 virgins for access to it. This article details how a graduate student developed a map of the US power and telecommunications infrastructure using material available online, and how now he might never get to publish this "boring" dissertation. (submitted to the main page 7/8/03)
What the chinese know that we dont
Recent news reports and press releases from the Peoples Republic of China indicate that it will soon be the third nation to independently put a human being in space. Further reports state that china has every intention of putting a second human on the moon. Why all this sudden interest in space exploration by the Chinese? Most attribute it to a desire for increased national and international prestige, and as a distraction for the general population from pressing domestic issues.
However, one need only look into Chinas past to realize that they were once in the same position they are in now. In the early 1400s, 90 years before Christopher Columbus, the Chinese were the most technologically advanced culture on the earth. Their seafaring abilities were unsurpassed. During these early days of the Ming dynasty, a Chinese admiral named Cheng Ho set out on a series of 7 voyages of exploration. In flotillas of 50-60 ships this admiral, accompanied by 25-30,000 soldiers, sailors, cooks, doctors, shipwrights and ambassadors reached as far west as the coast of Africa. The flagship of the fleet was longer than the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria stretched end to end. These voyages brought great riches and prestige to the emperor of China, as well as to Cheng Ho. But, after Cheng Ho's death in 1433, Mongol invasions in the north and Japanese pirates in the east led the emperor to decree that the voyages were too expensive. He ordered the shipwrights home, the ships burned and the logs of the voyages destroyed.
A century later, the Europeans began several centuries of dominating the Chinese. It could have easily been the other way around. At the time of the Chinese voyages, Europeans were utterly unprepared for the technologies that the Chinese brought with them. Europe, militarily weak after the end of the crusades, was a willing market for Chinese goods, and at the same time a source of needed raw materials, making them wide open for colonization. The Emperor missed his opportunity, to the Europeans benefit nearly a century later.
Today the last Saturn V sits on its side at Kennedy space center. Moon rocks are in museums, but not under the boots of astronauts. The plans for the Apollo moon rockets are becoming rapidly unreadable. For at least another year the United States lacks the ability to send astronauts into space. The United States does not explore other planets with humans anymore, it is âoetoo expensiveâ and âoedefenseâ needs more money and attention. We see no benefit of putting people on other planets. The Chinese see the benefit, because they have been there before, and they will not be caught flat footed a second time.
Rastafize him by 10%!
The BSA has developed a cartoon ferret designed to stop kids from pirating software. The new mascot is deployed at playitcybersafe.com A full article is available here at the washington post. I can just see some suit saying "rastafize him by 10%" This article was submitted to the main page 5/6/03
The Fall of Civilization
"X will be the end of western civilization" Weve all heard it, and usually promptly dismissed it. How can video games, TV, movies etc be lead to the downfall of civilization? Of course they cant, in and of themselvess. I believe they are a symptom of the decline of civilization, rather than the cause. Civilization is declineing due to the failure to transmit civilization from generation to generation. For whatever reason, parents do not transmit the rudiments of civilized behavior to their children. Society teaches that each individual is unique, and is the most important person in the world, and that anything that is done that discomforts the individual is wrong, and the individual needs to be compensated for that slight. If the trend continues that the individual is more important than the society, people will become less and less willing to make sacrifices for society and disorder and violence against fellow citizens will increase as vendettas and vigilantes take the place of justice. Eventually the government will be unable to contain the violence and society will collapse. I wish i knew a cure for this, but unfortunately those that are the most self centered also tend to have the most children and teach the values of self importance to them, eventually civilized people will be evolved out of the species to the point where war once again becomes common. At this point, the tide turns and the uncivilized kill each other off, allowing civilization to once again be reborn.
In AD 2003...
In AD 2003, War was beginning....
Saddam: What Happen?
Osama: Somebody Set us up the bomb!
Operator: We get signal
Saddam: Main screen turn on!
Bush: Ha Ha Ha!
Saddam: It is you!
Bush: How are you gentlemen
Bush: All your base are belong to U.S.
Bush: You are on the way to destruction
Saddam: What you say?
Bush: You have no chance to survive, make your time
Bush: Ha Ha Ha Ha...
Saddam: Take off every Scud, for great justice.
Apple Releases BIND security patch
Come 'n get it. Apple has released a new security update for OS 10.2 , available through software update or here. According to the readme:
This Security Update fixes potential vulnerabilities introduced in BIND, the domain server and client library software package from Internet Software Consortium (ISC), that is shipped with Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server. BIND version 8.3.4 addresses the recently-discovered potential vulnerabilities where an unauthorized person may disrupt the normal operation of the DNS name service. BIND is not activated by default on Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server.
Terrorism = Bad stuff
Here we go again, polititians have corrupted a word such that it no longer means what it initially did. Like liberal, or "raise taxes" terrorism has a new meaning. Terrorism now means anything that is bad, and more importantly anything that is against administration policy. Voting against the bush homeland security bill is terrorism, in brasil, they call currency devaluation "economic terrorism" hacking is now "electronic terrorism" Fighting for the freedom of your people against a repressive regime is terrorism (see chechnya) These things are not terrorism. Terrorism is the actions of people or peoples to spread fear through a population in order to further a pollitical cause. Suicide bombings in israel are terroism. The DC sniper was terror-causing, but not terrorism, because it was not specifically designed to further a pollitical cause. Voting against bush is definetly not terrorism. Newscasters and polititians need to get a dictionary.
Liberty is bigger than a person, or a group of people, or even a country. It is an Ideal, timeless, unchanging, immutable. Who are we to trample on even the hem of lady libertys robes. Hundreds of thousands of americans have died in the cause of liberty. When americans go to war it is not to "protect the fatherland" or to protect their families, their jobs, and especially not their politiutians. Americans go to war to protect freedom, to protect liberty, to make the world safe from evil.
Its so easy to say that you should submit to searches and seizures and the government and president should have more powers to get in everyones buisness. Ultimately more presidential and governmental powers will backlash. Its just a mater of if its a year or if its 100 years. Hopefully the former.
Death is depressing. It makes me think as so many others have thought, about what lies beyond death. Space may be the final frontier, but even that frontier will someday be conquered. Death is a frontier that will never be conquered. It is impossible to know for certain what happens when you die. The multiplicity of theories abound in the worlds religions. You can go to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Nirvana, be Reincarnated, be reunited with loved ones, or maybe just nothing. I wish I knew witch it was, but my feeling is that nothing happens when you die other than you ceasing to exist. I come to that belief through lack of evidence for anything else, but the truth is ultimately that it is a belief, I have no more evidence for it than I have that everyone will go to heaven when they die.
Funerals are also weird, especially christian ones. For those that dont know, Christians believe that everyone will go to heaven or hell when they die, depending on how they behaved in this world. My question is then; why are funerals so sad? Shouldnt they be celebrations of people entering into paradise? Unless you believe that the person was bad enough to warrant entrance into hell, in which case I would understand the sadness. But inexplicably, christians also believe that god is a forgiving god, and a loving god, so wouldnt only the mose heinous offenders and a sad funeral?
On the other hand, if you believe that death leads to nothing, then funerals would truly be a sad occasion, because no matter how goud the person is, they are now truly dead and nonexistant. I think thats why funerals are sad, because people secretly suspect this is the case but are afraid to admit it.
RMS & Co Crash Copyright/DRM hearings
Well slashdot wont post this, but I think its news for nerds:
News.com is reporting that RMS and a bunch of New Yorkers for fair use crashed a commerce department hearing on digital rights management. Invited parties were the MPAA, Walt Disney, the Recording Industry Association of America, Microsoft, Intel, News Corp. and others, totalling about 20 industry representatives, but no Free software folk. After protesting inside the hearing, a representative of the group was allowed to speak, but RMS was kept from talking to the panel.
Do as we say, not as we do
Recent corporate scandals show that there has been alot of shady accounting going on in the buisness world. Shuffling money around, creating dummy corporations, claiming things as revenue that shouldnt be. All of these things lead to an increased distrust in corporate governance. Where was the oversight? Where was the SEC? Where were the boards of directors? Heck, where were the shareholders? Ultimately every "oversight" party was too interested in watching their stock portfolio balloon to notice that the baloon was filled with a bunch of hot air.
In this trying time we look for leadership to appear from some quarter. Somone to show us the way out of the quagmire we seem to have found ourselves in. In steps the Federal Government, the granddaddy of shady accounting. Ever hear of "black budget" projects? I bet enron would have loved to have been able to do that. "Im sorry, we cant tell you what we are spending on that project, Its a matter of Company Security". How about swapping money earmarked for social security or medicare, or the SEC to pork projects. "Yes I know we budgeted $100 Million for maintainance, but I need a new private jet". People learn from example, and congress is setting a bad example. Congress needs to have an audit done on it and then follow the auditors recommendations. Knowing congress, they would probably pick Arthur Anderson.
People Love Rats, but not the Rats Milk?
Some more reflections on NYC. Even though I realize that great strides have been made in the last few decades in cleaning up the city of New York, its still a dirty city. One of my friends who came withcommented that "after visting New York, the buildings here dont seem so big anymore" To which I added, "Or as Ghetto"
New York has alot of people. If you dont live there or have never visited, you can understand abstractly that 10 million people live in the 5 bouroughs, but until you've been there and seen all these people all running around on their own tasks, you have no idea how many people live there. And that leads to problems. In DC, the metro is clean, theres no gum on the floor, the walls and floor are generally clean and theres no trash lying around. Thats because the DC Metro runs from 5AM to 1 AM weekdays, so theyve got a 4 hour window to clean up. The Subway runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week, except when it doesnt. So I can understand why things would tend to get a little messy. But the whole subway system needs to have a pressure washer taken to it. Simply hosing down the floors and walls would go a long way towards making the system nicer to travel in.
I never saw any rats or cockroaches in the subway, so thats a start, but seriously, how can you have pride in something thats that dirty. And if you try to tell me that "well if they clean it, it will just get dirty again" Would you eat at a restaurant that had that attitude about its eating areas? About its bathrooms? About its dishes?. I hope that NYC gets the 2012 Olympics and uses some of that money to clean up the subway. Then again, the Olympics should be about sport, and not about urban renewal, but thats what its getting to. But I digress...
In general i feel that this country is too messy, I see so many people every day littering, throwing cigarette butts out car windows, etc. Maybe people just dont care about keeping the country looking nice, oh well, im digressing again.
Back to NYC. Id hate to see what the city would be like during a garbage strike, its bad enough as it is. They could probably build another island out of the garbage the throw out every day. Oh wait, I forgot about Staten Island ;-)
The City that Never Sleeps, or Even Sits Down.
So I just got back from my first trip to NYC this weekend, and I had a few interesting observations.
The first has to do with homeless people. NYC has a homeless problem. Not a big problem, it could definetly be worse, but a problem nonetheless. Now homeless people, being homeless, tend to sleep in one of several places:
A homeless shelter, with limited spaces, but comfortable and clean(er).
A bench somewhere, Cold and hard
A subway grate, warm and hard.
NYC has decided to solve the problem of bums sleeping on benches everywhere by.... Removing any place to sit down in the entire city. The extent to which NYC has gone to keep people standing is evidenced by where they have to put signs to keep people from sitting on stuff. At the top of the empire state building there is a gift shop, and the gift shop has stuff on shelves, and one of the shelves has an end cap with products on it, and that end cap has a lip that comes out right at about seat height. They put a sign on that that says " Please do not sit on the shelf" In grand central station they have big signs that say "Sitting on the stairway is strictly prohibited" Now having been in several train stations I can understand the problem that they have with homeless people living there. Theres a liuttle park in times square that has some benches in it. The city put a fence around it and locked the gate. There was a bum sleeping on the bench though
There are two things I find wrong with this anti sitting attitude, one, youre not solving the homeless problem! You still have a bunch of homeless people, now they just sit on the floor, or sleep on the subway grates. Two, the only way to get around nyc is by walking or standing on the subway, people need a place to sit down.
Ultimately NYC is solving a symptom to the homeless problem and not the problem itself. Removing benches will not help people find jobs, or get them the psychological help they need. Only a sustained effort of the city to help these people and provide places form them to stay that are off the street will at least start to solve the problem. Then maybe we can all take a load off.
Slashdot recently had an article on Data Loss, and how as technology advances, the ability to hold on to archived data decreases. We need to preserve stuff. Of course that assumes we know what the future would like to know about us. What if they want to know what kinds of spam we got every day? What if they want to know what kinds of chain letters we were falling for? This is the kind of stuff thats least likely to be archived. On the plus side there is so much of it that chances are that some of it will remain in the future. What we really need is for the library of congress or some other private or public agency to develop an archival system for all the data we have. There is a way to keep all our data, and that involves constant transofrmation and copying of the data. Each time a new form of data storage comes on the market, the old forms must be transferred over. Heres how it shoudl have worked:
Punch cards get transferred onto tapes, tapes get transferred onto 5-1/4 floppies, 5-1/4 floppies get transferred to 3-1/2 inch floppies, 3-1/2 inch floppies go to CD's, CD's go to DVD's and DVD's go to whatever widespread storage technology replaces them. Thats assuming you dont throw it all on a Hard Drive and then just keep upgrading the drive.
If something like this doesnt start happening soon, were going to lose alot of stuff. Theres already rumors that census data from the 60's is no longer readable because its on magnetic tapes that have broken down. Save the data now, or the future may not know what theyre missing!