Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at adamfields.com for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or app.net.

6/30/2005

Crappy new Freedom Tower panned by the NYTimes

Since when does “one tower” evoke “two towers”?

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/30/arts/30appraisal.html?ex=1277784000&en=4099edc8a297a3b6&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss


A blistering indictment of Mozilla’s security process

Filed under: — adam @ 8:43 am

“There is no doubt that Mozilla has walked into an agenda capture process. It specifically excluded one CA, CACert.org, for what appears to be competitive reasons. Microsoft enters these things frequently for the purposes of a) knowing what people are up to, and b) controlling them. (Nothing wrong with that, unless you aren’t Microsoft.) At least one of the participants in the process is in the throes of selling a product to others, one that just happens to leave itself in control. The membership itself is secret, as are the minutes, etc etc.”

https://www.financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/000514.html


IRS chooses ChoicePoint for records access

Filed under: — adam @ 8:34 am

Ironically, the headline of this article is “IRS search for public records access ends with ChoicePoint”. Ha!

“The Internal Revenue Service has awarded ChoicePoint Government Services a contract worth as much as $20 million to serve as the agency’s public records provider for batch processing projects, according to the company.”

http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/36239-1.html

???!

So, being the target of the data breach du jour is now your ticket to FAT FAT GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS.

Oh, but wait, that was four or five months ago. Everyone must have forgotten about it by now.

Right?


6/29/2005

Google maps hack to display Iraq casualties

Via hackaday:

http://www.casualty-maps.com/

[Update: another map (not a Google map), this one with casualties plotted over time by country and location in Iraq: http://www.obleek.com/iraq/index.html]


6/28/2005

Grokster is not like gun companies being sued for crimes committed with guns

I’ve been hearing a lot that the Grokster decision is akin to the court saying that gun manufacturers should be liable for crimes committed with guns.

I think a better analogy is this: if a gun manufacturer sells guns with a sign that says “Bank Robbing Projectile Launchers Here” and then in the middle of a bank robbery they help their customers unjam their guns so they can fire at the cops again, that they might have some liability as an accessory to the bank robbery.


Environmental impact of mass buckyballs is unknown

Filed under: — adam @ 10:29 am

Apparently, it’s just been discovered that buckyballs are water-soluble and antibacterial.

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/nanotech-05zzl.html


6/27/2005

Grokster is reasonable

I’ve actually had time to read the entire decision, and I find this totally reasonable.

This is the text of the decision, and I’m surprised that this was turned into such a landmark case to begin with. It’s meaninless – all it says is that if you promote a service meant to contribute to copyright infringement, you can’t hide behind the defense that your service also has other uses.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=04-480

Discovery revealed that billions of files are shared across peer-to-peer networks each month. Respondents are aware that users employ their software primarily to download copyrighted files, although the decentralized networks do not reveal which files are copied, and when. Respondents have sometimes learned about the infringement directly when users have e-mailed questions regarding copyrighted works, and respondents have replied with guidance. Respondents are not merely passive recipients of information about infringement. The record is replete with evidence that when they began to distribute their free software, each of them clearly voiced the objective that recipients use the software to download copyrighted works and took active steps to encourage infringement.

This isn’t about freedom of technological expression, unless I’m missing something big here. These guys were running a service encouraging people to trade copyrighted content, giving them tech support on it, and then hiding behind the claim that other people were using the service for legitimate means.

We can argue about whether that should be legal or not, but as far as I can tell, there isn’t a strong case for the argument that it actually is legal. This isn’t about protecting the rights of technologists to develop new ideas – this is about actual copyright infringement. There are two different cases here:

1. You release a tool that enables people to infringe copyright and you have no control over that.
2. You release a tool that enables people to infringe copyright and you advertise it as such, promote it with that goal, and help people out when they can’t download the latest Britney album.

Sounds like #2 to me.


Grokster is lost

The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that filesharing companies should be held liable for copyright infringement performed on their networks.

“One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright … is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device’s lawful uses,” Justice David Souter wrote in the ruling.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050627-5042.html

[Update - I think this is reasonable. Here's why.]


Psychonauts is fun

Filed under: — adam @ 10:24 am

I’ve just started playing Psychonauts, and it’s tremendous fun. I’ve been a fan of Tim Schafer games for a long time – I’ve played all of them except Day of the Tentacle.

It’s rare to find kid friendly games that aren’t boring for adults.

I’ll be posting a review to Buy Adam when I’m done with it, but there’s one piece of dialogue I just have to share (possibly slightly inaccurately quoted from memory):

Raz: They’ll be looking for Raz, the boy, but they’ll find Raz… the Psychonaut!
Dogen: And then you’ll make their heads explode?
Raz: What? No! You do that?
Dogen: No…
Dogen: Except that one time. But now I wear this special hat. Do you want to try on my hat?
Raz: No, no, that’s okay.


UK government considering selling ID card data to pay for ID system

What’s that slightly coppery smell? It’s irony mixed with incompetence.

So, let me get this straight. The UK government decides to implement a national ID system amid serious criticism of its effectiveness at all and its cost-effectiveness in particular, and now is considering selling the data to pay for spiraling costs.

I bet that idea is guaranteed to reduce identity theft and abuse of the system.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=649780


6/26/2005

Mermaid Parade Photos

Filed under: — adam @ 1:58 pm

We spent the day at the Mermaid Parade yesterday in Coney Island.

I’ve uploaded a bunch of photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fields/sets/504041/

If you don’t have the patience to go through all of them, here are a few of my favorites:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fields/sets/504109/


6/24/2005

Another eminent domain seizure

Filed under: — adam @ 11:08 pm

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3239024


Conflicting marketing message

Filed under: — adam @ 6:17 pm

New London, Connecticut is salary.com’s #1 most affordable city for 2005:

http://money.cnn.com/2005/05/23/pf/pay_costliving/index.htm

“The living costs measured in the new Salary Value Index include housing, food, transportation, utilities and state taxes. The index also factors in an area’s employment and job-growth rates.

What it does not account for are quality-of-life issues, such as culture, school systems and the weather.”

… or, you know, the fact that the city may seize your house and knock it down.


Criminals are using stolen social security numbers to file false unemployment claims

Filed under: — adam @ 2:32 pm

“File a false unemployment claim and you can receive $400 per week for 26 weeks. Do it for 100 Social Security numbers and you’ve made a quick $1.04 million. It’s tough to make crime pay much better than that.”

http://news.com.com/States+fiddle+while+defrauders+steal/2010-1071_3-5754429.html


6/23/2005

“Beware the Google Threat”

Filed under: — adam @ 1:22 pm

Wired picks up on the fact that Google is growing fast, aggregating a LOT of data on its users (some of it incredibly personal) and not telling anyone what they’re doing with it behind the veil of vague privacy policies.

The article is a decent summary, but it also misses the point that a good deal (if not all) of the Google information is subject to revelation simply if “We conclude that we are required by law or have a good faith belief that access, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public.

That is NOT the same as a subpoena. I talked about this previously in a discussion about why Google’s needs come before your own.

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,67982-2,00.html


Supreme Court rules that municipalities can seize property for commercial development

Filed under: — adam @ 12:26 pm

I think this is a terrible precedent. But, you know, you’ve got to build bypasses.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050623/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_seizing_property


6/22/2005

DNA tagging of criminals on the spot

I can’t wait for the nanobots to start fighting over molecule level tagging. Presumably, the coding of the DNA strands is protected by all sorts of interesting copyright law, too.

Bruce Schenier points out this new technology:

The system, called Sentry, works by fitting a box containing a powder spray above a doorway which, once primed, goes into alert mode if the door is opened.

It then sprays the powder when there is movement in the doorway again.

The aim is to catch a burglar in the act as stolen items are being removed.

The intruder is covered in the bright red powder, which glows under ultraviolet (UV) light and can only be removed with heavy scrubbing.

However, the harmless synthetic DNA contained in the powder sinks into the skin and takes several days, depending on the person’s metabolism, to work its way out.

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/06/dna_identificat.html


Flying Spaghetti Monster created the Earth

“Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.”

http://www.venganza.org/


6/20/2005

Open letter to Adobe

Dear Adobe:

Your activation system is a failure.

I have been a loyal customer for more than ten years. I’ve dutifully paid pretty much whatever you’ve asked for upgrades over the years, and I’ve always been happy with your product.

I understand that you don’t want people to steal your software. Never mind that Photoshop is largely the industry leader in image management because it was mercilessly copied by everyone. Your product is good, and I like it.

Let’s be clear about this. I’m not stealing your software.

But you’re treating me like a criminal. Twice in the past few weeks, I’ve had to talk to one of your activation support reps because your online activation system is broken. It has several times just decided that I’d activated enough, and was suspicious. Never mind that I was reinstalling on a brand new replacement computer. Never mind that on the first occasion this happened, there was no grace period, and the software simply would not run until I talked to a representative on the phone, who, by the way, are ONLY AVAILABLE DURING WEST COAST BUSINESS HOURS.

Thanks. You’ve given me reasons to think twice about giving you more money in the future and tarnished your spotless reputation.

Bravo. I hope it was worth it.

[Update: I've spoken to Adobe support after my fourth automated reactivation failure, and apparently, this is an issue with RAID devices, where the activation system sees it as a different computer configuration on subsequent checks. My previous comments stand. This is totally unacceptable. Worse than that. The system is not only broken, it's returning false positives for theft masquerading as valid and accepted disaster prevention techniques. So, my opinion is now this - Adobe has not only foisted misguided copy protection techniques on us, but, to add insult to injury, they're still beta. There is a patch available, so contact Adobe if you have this problem.]

[Update #2: I installed the patch, and activation failed yet again. Holding for support... ]

[Update #3: After activating again via phone, all seems to be working. For now. ]


6/19/2005

One-page PDF for sale for $1500 on Amazon

Filed under: — adam @ 7:54 pm

This PDF entitled “Sony to Include Blu-ray in PS3: HD-DVD Green with Envy” is $1500 on Amazon. It’s one page.

Really!

I’m not sure if the one page is the pictured cover page, or there’s another page after that.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002XWAGW/buyadam-20


Nerd Watch Museum

Filed under: — adam @ 9:46 am

http://pocketcalculatorshow.com/nerdwatch/


6/17/2005

Mastercard data theft possibly exposes 40m cards

Filed under: — adam @ 4:52 pm

“MasterCard International reported today that it is notifying its member financial institutions of a breach of payment card data, which potentially exposed more than 40 million cards of all brands to fraud, of which approximately 13.9 million are MasterCard-branded cards.”

http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/050617/175525.html


A dedicated music buyer spells out what he’s stealing and why

Filed under: — adam @ 8:38 am

“I still buy, but now I also steal. You have forfeited your right to my loyalty. And maybe you’re too lost and beaten to care, and even more likely it’s too late to matter, but for a few minutes I’m going to pretend that neither of those things are so. I’m going to pretend that you’re still capable of awareness and reason, and in a spirit of truth that you long ago stopped deserving, while I’ve still taken little enough to list, I’m going to tell you exactly what I have stolen from you, and why.”

The list is interesting, and includes things that are out of print, artificially available in only one country, or just old, crappy, and overpriced.

http://www.furia.com/twas/twas0503.html

Wake up guys – this is what your best customers think of you.


Brothers Grimm trailer

Filed under: — adam @ 8:36 am

New Terry Gilliam movie. I was getting disappointed about the summer movie slate, but here we go!

http://movies.channel.aol.com/franchise/exclusives/the_brothers_grimm_movie


6/16/2005

Adobe Creative Suite CS2 is amazing!

Filed under: — adam @ 2:16 pm

I got my copy of Adobe CS2 today, and quite frankly, I’m floored.

I tend to focus on Photoshop first, with InDesign a close second.

First impressions of new Photoshop:

The UI is noticeably slower than CS in some minor ways, but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s doing more, or this is just the first time through (some things have gotten faster as I’ve used them). That’s my only criticism so far.

Some things, like raw processing and image browsing, are just a lot faster. Many of the image processing functions are impressively faster.

While the increased feature set on the website sounds minimal, they have really tweaked out everything. I’ve only just begun to explore.

Adobe Camera Raw 3.0 is fantastic and far more flexible than the previous version. You can now do cropping and straightening (with a very intuitive tool) in the raw filter, and can set droppers, adjust constrast curves, do camera color correction with saved profiles (I think this was in 2.5, but not the default one shipped with CS), and apply raw conversion changes without fully opening the image. This last is very useful for doing fast batch raw processing, which Adobe Bridge (the replacement for the crappy browser in the last version) now also supports. They were thinking.

The new Smart Sharpen filter is mind blowing. It is MILES ahead of unsharp mask.


Google patent filing reveals interesting information about ranking

Filed under: — adam @ 11:29 am

They apparently look at how far in the future your domain expiration is, how your links manifest over time, and how the focus of your site is directed over time, among other things.

It does look to me like, using their definitions, “blog” is largely indistinguishable from “spam”.

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/6-10-2005-71368.asp

Here’s the actual patent application:

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20050071741&OS=20050071741&RS=20050071741

(Note: Google’s name doesn’t appear to be on this patent.)


6/15/2005

Rare Tom Lehrer video

Filed under: — adam @ 10:06 pm

I love Tom Lehrer!

http://www.archive.org/details/lehrer


Congress voting to slash funding for PBS and NPR

Filed under: — adam @ 12:59 pm

Plenty of money to go bomb other countries, but let’s not spend any money on making sure our kids can read (yes, I personally learned to read largely from watching Sesame Street). Thanks.

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with “Sesame Street,” “Reading Rainbow,” and other commercial-free children’s shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year–$100 million–and end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved children’s shows like “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “Arthur,” and “Postcards from Buster.” Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

Sign the petition against this cut:

http://www.moveon.org/publicbroadcasting/


6/14/2005

Spermcube!

Filed under: — adam @ 12:19 pm

Um.

No, this doesn’t seem like a good idea at all.

http://www.spermcube.org/


Ur-Quan Masters

Filed under: — adam @ 10:18 am

The open source Star Control 2 project released a new version recently.

http://sc2.sourceforge.net/


The Dark Side is the Best Sauce

Filed under: — adam @ 8:09 am

Funny little livejournal blog with cartoons mocking the Prequels. How can you go wrong?

This one’s my favorite so far:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/iharthdarth/2867.html#cutid1

http://www.livejournal.com/users/iharthdarth/


EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers

Filed under: — adam @ 7:54 am

The EFF has collected a number of FAQs about legal issues that various kinds of bloggers may face.

http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/

The EFF is doing good work that needs doing. I urge you to support them.


6/13/2005

Google will eat itself

Filed under: — adam @ 11:58 am

Uhhhh…

“We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on our website GWEI.org. With this money we automatically buy Google shares via our Swiss e-banking account. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself – but in the end we will own it!”

http://www.gwei.org/gwei/


6/12/2005

Dual cores for emulation?

Filed under: — adam @ 8:36 am

From what very little I know about the architectures, it seems to me that dual-core CPUs will be VERY VERY optimized for emulation – use one core to do the translation that’s then passed to the other across the common cache for actual execution.

Thoughts on this?


6/11/2005

More thoughts on Mac and Intel

Filed under: — adam @ 11:12 am

Having thought about this for a while, and heard all of the conspiracy theories about how this is Apple’s latest move to dominate the world, here’s what I think.

There is no master plan.

Steve Jobs got backed into a corner by IBM, because IBM wanted Apple to put more money into the PowerPC chip line, which IBM is not terribly interested in keeping alive because, frankly, Apple doesn’t sell that many computers and the technology’s a dead end. So Apple didn’t pay up, and IBM didn’t produce faster, cooler chips for the laptops that Apple wanted, and Apple was left with two choices: produce no more faster laptops, or move to another chip vendor. Intel is the obvious choice, as the largest-and-not-cheapest vendor. Intel’s a little pissed off at Microsoft, and they’ve been getting some heat from AMD (despite continually producing better but not cheaper technology, IMHO). Porting OSX to Intel or anything else is actually laughably easy, because all along, it’s been built on top of a Mach microkernel architecture which is designed specifically for this.

So Apple dumps IBM, who doesn’t really care because they’ve got Sony’s business for the new Cell processors and the PS3 is going to way outsell the Mac any day of the week. Apple will sell, what, 5 million Macs this year? Sony sells that many PS2s in two months. Intel gets a little coolness factor for selling even more of their incredibly popular chip line, and Apple gets their dual-core Pentium M laptops.

Microsoft continues to dominate whole industries through sheer obstinacy.


Rent an avatar

Filed under: — adam @ 11:10 am

GamePals will rent you a high level character in the MMORPG of your choice, avoiding all that tedious leveling up. If you like it, you can buy it.

http://gamepal.com/rentals


6/10/2005

Dalek kidnapped, disarmed

Filed under: — adam @ 6:25 pm

Awaiting further instructions from the Doctor.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/somerset/4077698.stm


3D SFCave

Filed under: — adam @ 4:42 pm

I find the SFCave game on the palm to be incredibly stupid, yet highly addictive.

This is a 3D first-person version.

http://www.sunflat.net/en/games/sfcave3d.html


6/9/2005

Rocks?

Filed under: — adam @ 4:37 pm

So, this is an article about how high-altitude mountain climbers have high instances of gastroenteritis because other climbers are shitting in the woods instead of disposing of it properly, and when it’s freezing cold, washing your hands with soap apparently isn’t a high priority.

But it goes on to say:

“Furthermore, fewer than half said they always washed their hands after defecating, with 16% admitting using rocks and snow instead of toilet paper. A shameful 11% confessed to pooping directly into the snow.”

Rocks?

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7492


Orgy porn is good for (producing) children

“Men who view pornographic images of two men and a woman produce better-quality sperm than men viewing pornographic images of just women, an Australian study reveals.

The finding suggests that humans may be capable of subconsciously increasing semen quality when faced with the possibility that their sperm will have to outrun those of other men in a womanís reproductive tract.”

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7487&feedId=online-news_rss20

This does not, however, explain hot girl-on-girl action.


Cringely thinks Intel is buying Apple

Filed under: — adam @ 4:04 pm

“Intel is fed up with Microsoft. Microsoft has no innovation that drives what Intel must have, which is a use for more processing power. And when they did have one with the Xbox, they went elsewhere.

So Intel buys Apple and works with their OEMs to get products out in the market. The OEMs would love to be able to offer a higher margin product with better reliability than Microsoft. Intel/Apple enters the market just as Microsoft announces yet another delay in their next generation OS. By the way, the new Apple OS for the Intel Architecture has a compatibility mode with Windows (I’m just guessing on this one).”

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050609.html

Possibly.

They announce 12 months ahead of product, Mac sales go in the toilet while people wait for the next big thing, Apple’s stock price gets depressed, and Intel can snap them up at a bargain.


6/8/2005

If you lick them first, they’ll stick

Filed under: — adam @ 3:50 pm

http://www.marshmallowshooter.com/


Thoughts on Mac on Intel

Filed under: — adam @ 9:48 am

So, you’ve probably heard by now that Apple is switching to Intel x86 chips for the Mac, from the PowerPC chips made by IBM.

The implications are pretty clear – not much changes. IBM couldn’t deliver fast enough chips on Apple’s schedule, and they got the boot. Apple can’t be happy about this, but they’re still going to control the rest of the hardware, OSX won’t run out of the box on your random home-built PC.

So, I think there’s very little interesting in this announcement, except for two things:

1) This is a major score for Intel.
2) Older software is going to be supported via emulation. We have FINALLY reached the point where hardware is fast enough, and we have something to burn all those extra cycles on – emulating other chipsets in a way that’s usable.

We’re seeing this in more places – Xbox 360 is rumored to support Xbox games via emulation. I think it’s an interesting trend to have chip design progress to the point where processors are optimized for specific purposes, but they’re fast enough to run everything else via emulation anyway. It really blurs the line at the application level about “what is a platform anyway?”.

For example, if you buy Photoshop for Windows, and you switch to Mac, you need to buy Photoshop for Mac. What if you buy Photoshop for Mac, and switch to Mac for Intel? (Same platform, different chip.) What if you then switch to Windows for Intel? (Same chip, different platform.)

I think there are going to be some confused consumers.


6/7/2005

Maybe I’m just feeling a little childish today

Filed under: — adam @ 1:57 pm

There’s something deeply wrong with this product image.

Memory foam


.XXX domain coming

Filed under: — adam @ 10:33 am

ICANN has approved the creation of a .xxx domain.

http://newsobserver.com/24hour/technology/story/2446091p-10758422c.html

There’s one thing that really troubles me about this.

WHY is the cost $60 per year?

Everything else, I can understand – it’s a voluntary labeling solution for content not meant for kids. As long as it’s voluntary, I think it’s fine. I don’t think it’ll help, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. If it becomes mandatory, that’s a problem. I think it would be much more useful to have a sanitized .kids domain. The problem with that is this – there’s huge disagreement over what isn’t suitable for kids, but it’s fairly obvious what is. The right solution is to identify the things that are, and let kids go to town on that stuff, instead of trying to corral everything that isn’t, which no one’s going to agree on.

But the thing that gets me is this – why should people pay up to ten times the price just for the privilege of presenting content just to a smaller audience (and the adults that will seek out .xxx domains will be a smaller audience than those that don’t understand the difference). That alone makes me think the entire justification is complete bullshit, and it’s just a grab for more money.


Citibank loses data on four million customers

Filed under: — adam @ 9:58 am

Barn door, meet horse-shaped vacuum.

Identifying data on 4 million Citigroup customers was “lost” when a UPS package containing unencrypted tapes went missing in early May.

CitiFinancial said in its statement that the data loss “occurred in spite of the enhanced security procedures we require of our couriers.”

It said there was little risk of the accounts being compromised because most customers already had received their loans and that no additional credit could be issued without the customers’ approval.

Debby Hopkins, chief operations and technology officer for Citigroup, said that the tapes were produced “in a sophisticated mainframe data center environment” and would be difficult to decode without the right equipment and special software.

Hopkins said most Citigroup units send data electronically in encrypted form and that CitiFinancial data will be sent that way starting in July.

http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,67766,00.html

Basically, what this tells me is that “secure” financial identification data on every American with a bank or brokerage account has been stolen or very likely will be in the next two years. There’s nothing that anyone is doing that can stop it. It’s time we turned our attention towards making that data useless for fraud. I propose a two-pronged attack:

1) The end of the instant credit era.
2) Flood the system with garbage data that looks like real data, but is meaningless.

[Update: I've been thinking about this. WHY DID THIS SET OF TAPES EVEN EXIST? Is there any possible good reason for a company to have all of this data in one place?]


Watchmen movie canceled

Filed under: — adam @ 9:19 am

I have a sick fantasy about locking Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez, and George Clooney in a room together and telling them they can’t come out until they finish the Watchmen movie and it’s good.

I steadfastly believe that it’s possible to make a good Watchmen film, but really – it needs to be 12 hours or more. I’m glad they canceled this half-hearted attempt that was doomed from the start.

http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/index.php?id=31145


Bacterial control without antibiotics

Filed under: — adam @ 9:09 am

Seems like pretty big news.

‘Only recently has it been discovered that the bacteria assembled in biofilms have a network of communication between them called “quorum sensing,” which controls their collective activity (or lack thereof). These sensing signals control the physiology and pathogenicity of the bacteria in the biofilms. A boron-based molecule that is produced by these bacteria, called auto inducer-2, controls the signals in this quorum sensing process.’

http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2005/06/a_novel_way_to.html


6/5/2005

Three simple rules for good customer service

Filed under: — adam @ 11:42 am

There are three simple rules for customer service:

1) Don’t ask me for the same information more than once.

2) When I give you information, understand it. This goes double for when I tell you I’ve already tried certain steps to fix the problem.

3) Help me solve the problem. If you can’t (see rule #2), reroute me to someone who can (see rule #1).


6/3/2005

Pagerank… It’s made out of… PEOPLE

Filed under: — adam @ 7:37 pm

Search Bistro claims that Google pays a small army of people to vet search results. So much for the pigeons.

http://www.searchbistro.com/index.php?/archives/19-Google-Secret-Lab,-Prelude.html


Rep. Conyers calls for signatures to demand answers on the Downing St. Memo

Filed under: — adam @ 5:40 pm

“We the undersigned write because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a Downing Street Memo in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed, by the summer of 2002, to attack Iraq, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify the war.”

Here’s the full letter:

http://www.johnconyers.campaignoffice.com/index.asp?Type=SUPERFORMS&SEC={4A195451-3934-4C00-B11D-BEE8AFA3D119}

Here’s the actual text of the memo:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-523-1593607-523,00.html

Many many signatures have already been collected. Here’s an update:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/2/15274/55931


PCI Ram disk

Filed under: — adam @ 5:04 pm

I need this.

“The iRam holds up to 4G bytes of DRAM in four memory slots. The card fits into a standard PCI slot, which provides power, and it uses a SATA (Serial ATA) connection for data transfer.

Unlike DRAM-based main memory, the iRam card doesn’t lose data when the PC is switched off, said Thomas Chang, a product manager at Giga-byte. As long as the PC is plugged into a socket, a very small amount of current continues to run through some parts of the system, including the PCI slots. This provides enough power to make sure that no data is lost, he said.

If the PC is unplugged, the iRam has an on-board battery for emergency power that can last up to 12 hours, he said.”

http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/06/01/HNxpwindows_1.html


Why the BBS documentary was released with a creative commons license and what that means

Filed under: — adam @ 12:08 pm

This is a great piece from the creator of the BBS documentary on why he released it under a fairly unrestricted creative commons license:

http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/000123.html

Now, under copyright law in the United States, I have, as a content creator, an amazing arsenal of statutes and legal decisions at my disposal to make your life, assuming you are playing the part of someone copying my films without my permission, into a bitter fucking hell. I mean, a seriously bad, stinky, horrifying pit of suck. I can threaten you with years of jail. I can sue you in civil court while pursuing a criminal case against you on a state and federal level. If I am feeling somewhat kinky I can try and drag Interpol into the whole mess. And the laws out there, approved, let me attempt to have you put away for YEARS. Absolutely YEARS of your life for videotaping a copy of my film.

In other words, I have an enormous amount of incentive to be a jerk.

And yes, it’s so easy, having now created something that has the potential to cost me a lot of money, to reach out and want to use these tools for my own end. Even though, in my own high school and college years, I made songs that used samples from professional productions, even if I took screengrabs from films and put them on a website to make a funny parody in 1995, I see my own work and the temptation is there to go “No, this is different. This is my stuff and you can’t have my stuff without paying for it.”

But that’s not what I did. Instead, I stayed true to my belief system and licensed it under Creative Commons, giving away a lot of the tools that US copyright law grants me, because they’re are By the Jerks, for the Jerks, and should perish from this Earth.

It was in some ways a tough decision, because you want to “protect” yourself, but then you realize you’re not really “protecting” anything; all you’re doing is being a paranoid twitch-bag. And once you realize this, then it becomes a little easier.

It keeps coming back to these four points:


1. People like to spend money.
2. People donít like to be treated like criminals.
3. People like to spend money on those they consider friendly or part of their community, even if itís not true (you know who you are).
4. People share with their friends.

Creative commons is not just sharing, it’s good business sense. It massively produces goodwill and exposure for your products.


Flash metering and focal point lock

Filed under: — adam @ 9:16 am

Interesting thread on photo.net about flash metering systems and focal point bias.

http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00COdi


BBC to broadcast entire works of Beethoven

Filed under: — adam @ 6:54 am

Starting Sunday morning (GMT, I assume), the BBC will be broadcasting (and, I assume, streaming) “Every single note of Ludwig van Beethoven in one week, 5th to 10th June. Every symphony, every quartet, every sonata, and plenty of Beethoven surprises too…”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/beethoven/

The symphonies will be available for download, as well, after broadcast:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/beethoven/downloads.shtml


Rent Anime DVDs

Filed under: — adam @ 6:49 am

RentAnime is a new netflix competitor that specializes in anime DVDs.

http://www.rentanime.com/

They have a Hentai section, but no Overfiend.

http://www.rentanime.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=overfiend&x=0&y=0

Netflix has it though.


6/2/2005

Longhorn slated to include RAW support

Filed under: — adam @ 12:08 pm

The next version of windows is slated to include RAW support natively. I wonder if that’s good or bad for DNG.

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-5727545.html


Nude lighting with 3D modeling

Filed under: — adam @ 8:53 am

This photographer uses Poser as an alternative to real models for experimenting with lighting for nude shoots.

http://www.pbase.com/pdesign/nothing_but_nude


6/1/2005

End of the 9 line

Filed under: — adam @ 6:58 pm

The 9 line has been eliminated by the MTA:

http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/service/nineline.htm


P2P is a technique, not a thing

Filed under: — adam @ 9:44 am

This message to the IP list claims that Tarleton University will “shut down P2P”:

OVERVIEW
P2P file sharing programs provide Internet users with the ability to share files on their computers with millions of other Internet users. Common P2P use includes song and movie file sharing, gaming and instant messaging. P2P file sharing software makes it possible for people to accidentally share personal files or sensitive data. These programs also allow easier access to computer systems for theft of sensitive documents and unauthorized use of network resources. There have been incidents where P2P programs have exposed sensitive federal government documents.

P2P file sharing software potentially compromises computer systems. The use of this software creates vulnerabilities through which malicious code (viruses, worms, Trojans, bots) or other illegal material can be introduced.

The use of P2P file sharing can result in network intrusions.

CONCLUSION
Few, if any, university owned computers have an operational reason for running P2P file sharing software. These applications represent a network vulnerability that cannot be afforded without a strong justification.

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200505/msg00315.html

This followup message illustrates a number of ways to get around that restriction:

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200506/msg00004.html

As I’ve written before, P2P is not a technology, it’s a technique. You can’t just wish it away by eliminating programs or blocking ports. Bits are just bits. By themselves, they’re meaningless, until you apply a filter to them that explains what they are. Once again, all together now. Content is a pattern, not a thing.

P2P isn’t going anywhere.


Blackbox Voting reports numerous ways to hack a Diebold optical scan machine

“1. An altered memory card (electronic ballot box) was substituted for a real one. The optical scan machine performed seamlessly, issuing a report that looked like the real thing. No checksum captured the change in the executable program Diebold designed into the memory card.

2. A second altered memory card was demonstrated, using a program that was shorter than the original. It still worked, showing that there is also no check for the number of bytes in the program.

3. A third altered memory card was demonstrated with the votes themselves changed, showing that the data block (votes) can be altered without triggering any error message.”

http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/5921.html


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