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Register NOT com As close as they can get to unethical.

A friend wants to consolidate his domain registrations. Not technical, so they ask me to help. What seems like the right approach? Let’s log in to your account at and make me the Admin contact, so I can help you out. Simple enough. Hum. Your domain is set to auto-renew, be locked, and have safe-auto-renew protection. Guess we’ll have to turn all those off to be able to transfer. Okay, I suppose they should tell you that by turning all that off you might lose your domain if you don’t know what you are doing, but we do. But, you can’t turn off auto-renew, because you have “mail” and “hosting” bundled with this domain. Ok, how do we unbundle those? Turns out you haven’t been using these features anyways, since your webmaster is hosting your site and email accounts on their server. Maybe if we just turn off auto-renew on those… That seems to do the trick.

Now, we need to request the transfer. We’ll log in to the registrar you want to consolidate to, and ask them to initiate a transfer. That’s working, I got an email (as admin) and they just need me to enter an “auth code” to proceed.

Back to How do we get an “auth code”? Burrow down about 5 levels… aha, there’s the “request auth code” button. WARNING! Turn back, you surely don’t know what you are doing. Yes I do. Okay, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. BTW, did we mention that this is a bad idea? Yes, but I want to do it. Okay, but you know you could LOSE YOUR MANHOOD by hitting this ok button! Are you really sure?? YES! Just one final question, since you are trying to leave us, we’ll offer you a nifty renewal package at 10% off. I don’t want that. Are you sure? Yes. Ok. We will send you an auth code IN 4-5 DAYS, after our “security staff” have had a chance to evaluate your request.

Continue reading "Register NOT com"
15:29 | Link | Reply | Track


Discouraging email

On 2009-11-30, at 15:59, Anapl Thvaa wrote:

> To discourage violation of copyright laws and to prevent illegal
> activities, this message is to serve as a reminder that all employees
> are restricted from downloading copyrighted material including
> music/movie files and other programs off the Internet to your Ynfmyb
> computer or through the Ynfmyb network.
> Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this policy.

Dear Anapl,

Are there other laws that Ynfmyb has a policy for discouraging
violation of that I should know about?  Or can I still use the color
Xerox machine for forging $100 bills?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
19:41 | Link | Reply | Track


Flashy cookies of the third party

What’s a cookie? It’s just some information that a web-site can store on your computer and then ask to get back the next time you visit that site. For sites you intentionally visit, it does useful things like remember who you are, remember that you had the speaker muted the last time you played a u-toob video at work, or, in the case of your bank, remember that you have used this computer before to access your account so it doesn’t ask you for the name of your great-grandmother’s off ox every time you log in.

What’s a third party? It’s someone that is not you and is also not the owner of the website you are visiting. Usually it is an advertiser that is showing ads on the side of the website you are visiting. They have their own website that serves up the ads. You are not intentionally visiting their website — you’re just getting there as a side-effect of seeing their advertisement.

In the bad old days, web browsers used to let any site see all the cookies on your computer. This was bad. It might let the evil Pr0n site you “accidentally” visited gather information to impersonate you at your bank. They don’t do that any more, but they still, by default, allow any website to store and retrieve cookies. Which means, unfortunately, while you may be visiting, if they are showing ads on their page, those advertisers can also read and write cookies. When you go to another website (say with the same advertiser, they can ‘track’ that you saw one of their ads on both of those sites — they can track what sites you visit. In this case, the advertiser is a “third party”. They are not you. They are not the website you are visiting. They just happen to show up on that web site. If you don’t like being tracked, you should turn off “third party cookies”.

Most web browsers by default don’t allow third-party cookies these days (or as Safari puts it “Only accept cookies from sites I visit”). But if you turn off third-party cookies in your browser, a lot of sites will just use Flash cookies instead. Stupidly, the default for Flash is to allow these “third party” cookies. If you follow the link below:

Adobe - Flash Player : Settings Manager - Global Storage Settings Panel

you can turn this feature of Flash off. I recommend you un-check the box that says “Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer”, if you value your privacy.

07:57 | Link | Reply | Track


I am a hacker

A reader from Maine asks:

Are your computer skills such that you could be a hacker if you wanted to
be? I’m just curious.

Gentle reader,

I am a hacker.

The popular press has co-opted the label “hacker”, which was originally a compliment of your high degree of computer skills, to mean a person who uses those skills for evil.1

If you are asking “Could I break into someone’s computer”, the answer is “yes”. There is no magic here. I started my computer career working in computer security at MITRE. And, believe it or not, things have not really changed much since those days. If anything, computer security has gone downhill quite a bit. No one has ever succeeded in commercializing the research we did (to build a secure system from the ground up), instead commercial enterprises have all focussed on selling “barn door” solutions, so called because they are attempts to close the barn door, despite the fact that a lot of (Trojan) horses have already been through…

[1] “Hacker (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”

09:28 | Link | Reply | Track


Solving Global Warming

The government really ought to just nationalize the credit card industry, stop printing cash, and give everyone a free credit card. Then they can take 2.5% of everything that anyone ever spends (instead of AMEX/Visa/MC/etc.) and do away with the dumb income tax system. The savings in overhead, record-keeping, filing, etc. would probably snap the economy right out of the recession. And all those CPA’s could get real jobs and put their math skills toward solving something important like global warming…

P.S., Heck, global warming would probably be solved just by turning off all the computers that are wasting cpu-cycles folding, spindling, and mutilating tax returns today.

11:38 | Link | Reply | Track


Label me 'optimistic'

Are the record labels finally realizing that treating your best customers as criminals is not the way to make money?

… it sounds like the labels are, for the first time, interested in having the right discussion.

Labels Open to Collective Licensing on Campus | Electronic Frontier Foundation

15:48 | Link


EMI gets it

Apple and EMI announced today that they will be offering music without DRM protection for an extra 30 cents. Huzzah! Someone finally gets it. Give your customer a fairly-valued product and you don’t have to treat them as criminals.

iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song

Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store

12:45 | Link | Reply


RIAA goes Phishing

RIAA launches propaganda, lawsuit offensive against college students

Unless the music industry wises up, it will be faced with a long and protracted battle that may end up alienating the next generation of music fans.

The latest BS from the RIAA: They send you a letter and offer not to sue you if you go to their web site and send them $1500. Idiots. It’s basically a ‘phishing’ scam — they are hoping people will be stupid (or scared) and send them money, because it is not really worth it to sue you.

12:46 | Link


Vacant email

Vacation email === evil. Just say no.

  • It goes wrong too often.

  • No one is so important that we all need to know they are on vacation.

  • If you are important to me, I had better have more ways to contact you than by just email. And I probably know you are on vacation already anyways.

  • Do you have a vacation phone message too? I hope you have a good burglar alarm.

Vacation mail is about as useful as the boilerplate .sig lawyers and brokers put at the bottom of their email telling me the dirty joke they just forwarded to me is privileged information and that if I am not the intended recipient it is my fault not theirs.

15:46 | Link | Reply | Track


Backup ripoff by Verizon Wireless

Backup Assistant Enjoy the peace of mind and convenience of Backup Assistant for only $1.99 a month. Download it today!

spam from Verizon Wireless

Why would I want to pay $2/mo. for a feature the my phone could do all by itself if Verizon had not crippled all the Bluetooth features on my phone?

13:11 | Link | Reply | Track


Sharing != Stealing

Anonymous post from Bill Gates’s “Piracy” Confession

Stealing is bad. Why is that? When I was a child, my parents explained it to me very clearly. Stealing is bad, because if you steal another kid’s toy, that other kid cannot play with it any more. Stealing means taking people’s property away from them. And that is exactly why it is bad.

Copyright infringement is NOT stealing. It is like not paying your taxes, or not paying the money the mafia demands from you so they won’t burn down your house. It’s still up for debate which of the two it is, but calling it “theft” is just propaganda.

If two people can profit from something that used to belong to only one person, without anything being taken away from the first person, that is called “sharing”. Sharing is good. Your parents probably taught you that.

Theft is evil. Sharing is good. If you promise to stop referring to copyright infringement as “theft”, I will stop referring to it as “sharing”, and maybe there can be a fair debate then.


12:00 | Link



Sony bad

Settle up with Sony BMG

If you recently bought any CD's from Sony/BMG and tried to play them on your computer, they probably owe you money. Click on the banner to find out more.

16:19 | Link


Open Petard

Interesting intersection between open source and Sony’s copy protection.

Sony may have stepped into something they will really regret. It seems the open source community has discovered that they used (in violation of the open source copyright) open source software in their rootkit that supposedly is there just to enforce their own copyrights. Talk about getting hoisted by your own petard

Spyware Sony seems to breach copyright

10:19 | Link | Reply | Track


Whine before Perl

I needed to write a couple of simple scripts the other day. One to create a p4 change template that followed our guidelines; another to format review email from that change template.

Every time I write something like this, I start off with sed, because it is so simple, then I realize it is too simple, and I try to remember awk, but then realize if I am going to use awk, I might as well use perl. I know perl is the best (in the sense of worse is better!) tool for tasks like this, but it is so grotty that I refuse to learn it and it always takes me an hour of flipping through the perl manual to remember its bizarre syntax.

Some day someone ought to design a clean version of perl where there is only one way to do things.

12:51 | Link | Reply | Track


Musical Geniuses Strike Again

”CD burning is a problem that is really undermining sales,” Bainwol said in an interview prior to speaking before about 750 members of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in San Diego Friday. Copy protection technology ”is an answer to the problem that clearly the marketplace is going to see more of,” he added.

Music Industry Worried About CD Burning - New York Times

Hello? Anybody home? People burn CD’s to put together a set of songs that they want to listen to, instead of having to put up with the dreck that you pack onto an album. Why do you think the individual song download is so popular?

Is there any other business that tries so hard to disappoint its customer?

19:01 | Link | Reply | Track


It's a movement!

Gene Weingarten, a humor columnist for The Washington Post and Washington Post Writers Group, praised the Times decision during his weekly chat yesterday. He said the paper displayed “the kind of cojones missing in too many places” and described “Garfield” as “a strip produced by a committee, devoid of originality, devoid of guts, a strip cynically DESIGNED to be inoffensive and bad, on the theory that public tastes are insipid. Now we need others to follow suit. Like the Post.”

‘L.A. Times’ Drops Daily ‘Garfield’ as the Comic Is Blasted and Praised

12:09 | Link | Reply


Take that!

Well, I guess that’s what all those pencil-necked geeks get for signing a petition against the great and powerful W!

Congress has cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, an engine for research in science and technology, just two years after endorsing a plan to double the amount given to the agency.

Supporters of scientific research, in government and at universities, noted that the cut came as lawmakers earmarked more money for local projects like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania.

Congress Trims Money for Science Agency (login required)

13:34 | Link | Reply | Track


EOLAS, part Deux

Kodak wins Java lawsuit

It returns to court next week to seek $1.06 billion in damages from Sun

[…] Rochester’s largest employer claimed during a three-week trial that portions of Java infringed on patents Kodak purchased from Wang Laboratories Inc. in late 1997. The patents describe a method by which a program can “ask for help” from another application to carry out certain computer-oriented functions. That’s generally similar to the way Java operates, according to Kodak and other experts. […]

Democrat & Chronicle: Kodak wins Java Lawsuit

16:08 | Link | Reply


Be afraid

If you have a PeeCee, it is very important that you make sure it is up to date. Microsoft has discovered a bug in the way their software handles JPEGs (most of the images that you ever see on the web) that can allow an evil cracker to take over your machine.

This is worse than any worm or virus hoped to be, because you don’t have to download or click on anything. You can get whacked just browsing around on the web…

September 2004 Security Update for JPEG Processing (GDI )

13:40 | Link | Reply | Track



Pants on fire

New York Times makes it simple:

Connections and Contradictions

09:44 | Link | Reply | Track


Spellchecking spam

Hlelo, chief :) Unreal Quality Hi Rsoelution Dolwnoadable Senecs
recent spam I received

I think I will add a filter to my email that rejects email with too many spelling errors. These dumb spammers are going so far to get around the statistical filters that their smap hsa becmoe nueradaleb.

15:36 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (1)


Return of the 18-minute gap

Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Pentagon Says Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed
14:01 | Link | Reply


Don't sass me!

If you are a Windows user, you should do yourself a favor and read this article. It is a very thorough article on how to secure your Windows computer against viruses and other ‘malware’:

Coping with Windows

If you have a broadband connection, either cable modem or DSL, the very first thing you should do, before you event think about turning on a new Windows computer and connecting it to the internet, is to buy a hardware firewall box, and put that between your computer and your broadband connection. This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself. (Some people have estimated that it takes less than 90 seconds for a cracker to find a new machine on the net to exploit it.) It’s the first thing mentioned in the above article, and something that I’ve mentioned before:

Homelan(d) Security

Anyone who has a hardware firewall would not be affected by the Sasser worm (because it exploits a flaw that requires it talking directly to your PC — with the firewall in the middle, the worm can’t get through). Anyone who does not has probably already found out that they are in for a lot of trouble.

12:55 | Link | Reply | Track


Phishing with HTML

You may have received an email that looks a lot like this recently, telling you you need to log in to either update your account or read an important notice. Looks pretty official, huh? Don't be fooled. It is not from Wells Fargo, despite all appearances. Perhaps you know that because you don't have a Wells Fargo account, so they shouldn't be sending you email anyways.

These types of scams are known to nerds as phishing — the scammer is trying to lure you in with an official-sounding email. Wells Fargo is hardly the only company that has been a target of these types of scams. has a list of recent scams, if you want to see the variety and complexity of some of these scams.

If you are a Wells Fargo client and lucky (or perhaps smart), you didn’t receive an email that looked like this at all. You may be running an email client that is too old to display fancy HTML mail. Or maybe you don't like HTML mail and have turned that feature off in your email client. If so, you got an email that simply said:

In order to view this message your e-mail client must support HTML format.

If so, you are better off than the majority, who are most likely using either AOL, a Microsoft product, or perhaps Hotmail to read their mail. These companies, in an attempt to serve you up spiffy email, have made it possible for scammers to pose as legitimate businesses and rip you off.

How does this scam work? This email is constructed by the scammer copying a web page right from Wells Fargo’s web site, and then carefully changing the link for the button to send your login and password (if you are duped into clicking) on to their computer, where presumably they will use it to drain your account.

This type of scam is one of the many reasons Microsoft is now recommending that you never click on anything in email. Don't even copy and paste a link. You have to type the link yourself, to be (somewhat) assured that the link your browser is going to is the link you mean to go to.

For me, I find HTML mail essentially useless. I turn off this feature in my email client, and as a result, can easily identify most spam and scams by the fact that their email does not display. Anyone who has important information to communicate to me had better send a plain text version of it.

If you are stuck with HTML mail, take care before responding to email that may appear to be from your bank or some other financial institution. Just like an unsolicited phone call, don't divulge personal information or passwords. If you really think it might be important, call them, using a phone number you can verify (like the phone number on your credit card or bank statement) and ask.

08:37 | Link


Hanging bits

Bizarre election results in California have been traced to an electronic touch-screen ballot system. But no one is quite sure what went wrong, and because there is no paper trail, no one is ever likely to get to the bottom of it.
Computer Voting Snafus Plague California
16:38 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (2)


I'd rather be in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh gets it!

The goodwill that free Wi-Fi creates can only add to the airport's reputation for service and innovation, Gialloreto said. If it also helps passengers linger a little longer and spend a little more at the Airmall and other attractions, all the better.
'I'll have a sandwich with my Wi-Fi, please'
06:38 | Link | Reply | Track


Pentagon to Bush: "It's the environment, stupid."

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
08:59 | Link | Reply



Just discovered a company, Walkwire, doing in San Francisco what, Tech SuperPowers is trying to do in Boston. Good on ya!

12:25 | Link | Reply



Thank goodness every major news outlet has replayed the scene in slow-motion every 15 minutes for the past week, or we wouldn't have all had our chance to be outraged at an incident every news outlet agrees should never have been seen by anyone.
USA Vanguard - Journalism That Counts: Janet Jackson's milkshake.
11:44 | Link | Reply


Conspiracy in Action

See the "controversial" ad that CBS has censored: Democracy in Action

08:24 | Link


Criminals for hire

Some 20 teens sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, which accuses them of unauthorized downloads, will appear in a Pepsi-Cola ad

She'll use some of her undisclosed ad fee to help pay for the settlement. - Pepsi ads wink at music downloading
11:05 | Link | Reply


The New Blacklist?

A federal agency confirms that it maintains an air-travel blacklist of 1,000 people. Peace activists and civil libertarians fear they're on it. News | Grounded

[Many Hollywood careers were ruined by an earlier blacklist: Hollywood Blacklisting]

16:56 | Link | Reply


Another brick in the wall

Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize about globalization: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences. Says Steve Dobbins, president of thread maker Carolina Mills: "We want clean air, clear water, good living conditions, the best health care in the world--yet we aren't willing to pay for anything manufactured under those restrictions."
Fast Company — The Wal-Mart You Don't Know
19:45 | Link | Reply | Comments (1)


Little Boxes

I sent a friend my vCard, and he wondered if I knew that I could have separate first and middle names. (My vCard lists my first name as P T, not because I have pointy-haired boss or oil baron aspirations, but because…)

I know I can have a middle name, but I found that if I moved the T to my middle name (even if I spelled out Tucker), then I showed up in lots of places as just P Withington, who I am not. This situation happens in most web forms, computer databases, etc., not just vCards.

I refuse to be fit into a little box, so since I cannot tell computers that I prefer my middle name, I have decided to call myself P T Withington, using P T as my first or given name. It's shorter and more convenient. I have had only one website so brain-dead as to tell me that P T was not a valid name (, who seem to be completely clueless: I have spent a month trying to use their site, and each time I get one page further and then have to report a bug because their stupid ASP is so broken).

I've had only one person who misunderstood me when I said I was P T Withington — I got a letter from them addressed to Petey Withington ;-).

11:53 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (2)


Phone Home

Just had to change my phone number from 508-245-1487 to 774-454-8493. Why? What happened to number portability? Well, here’s the dark side of number portability: your land phone company will tell you that the regulators have declared that they must treat calls to cell phones as if the cell phone were based physically where the “office code” (that’s the middle 3 digits of your phone number) is tariffed. For my cell phone that was Bridgewater, which is a long distance call from Plymouth; so all of a sudden it was costing me 10¢ a minute to call my cell from my home.

What to do? Well my land phone company (Verizon) suggests that I call my cell phone company (Verizon, no relation, believe it or not) and ask them for a new number that would be local to Plymouth. Turns out they are happy to oblige. I don't suppose this has anything to do with the fact that the 508 area code, despite being newer than 617 is still an old code and is popular and full. I don't suppose it has anything to do with the new number being in the new, unpopular overlay code 774.

Snooping around on the net I stumble across some information from Bellcore (you remember Bell Telephone, which was broken up by deregulation) which is the company that makes sense out of all the various phone companies by keeping the master list that tells what physical switch handles each phone number. These are the guys who presumably everyone will pay when number portability goes into effect. These guys are the Verisign of the phone system, except they have been in business much longer, and they quietly do their job, efficiently, and presumably for a nice fat fee, since everyone has to use their service.

What did I stumble upon? Just this amusing anecdote: Where do you suppose my new 774 number is routed to? You guessed it, the same physical switch in Bridgewater that my old phone number was assigned to, it’s just that my new number is tariffed as if it were physically in Plymouth.

17:47 | Link


Canning Spam

I’ve been around the net a while (we did have both 1’s and 0’s in my day — I’m not that old), so unfortunately my email address has found it’s way onto many a spammer’s mailing list and I probably get more than the usual amount of spam, which has driven me to find some tools to deal with spam.

One of the biggest misunderstandings with spam is how email works: Email is a lot like postal mail, in that it consists of both an envelope and a message. The envelope tells where to deliver the message. The message includes an inside address, which purports to be the source of the message, but is easily forged. (Just imagine writing a letter to your Aunt Jo, but you accidentally put it in an envelope to pay your electric bill. The electric company will get your letter, even though the inside address is for your Aunt Jo. Spammers do the same thing, intentionally. They write a nice letter that appears to be from your Aunt Jo, telling you how to enlarge your bank account, then make a zillion copies and stick it in a zillion different envelopes and send it to zillions of people.)

Unfortunately, most email clients, in an attempt to be helpful, open all your mail, discard the envelopes, and just show you the message. As a result, you don’t notice that the message from your Aunt Jo came in a bulk mail envelope — the one’s you would normally drop right into the trash if they came in your postal mail.

After a bunch of research, I decided to try a service called SpamCop.NET (not spamcop.COM — a cheap imitation, and not spamcop.ORG — who are actually spammers). Here’s how SpamCop works: it encourages people to report spam and analyzes the full spam message, looking at the internal postmarks (these are the Received: lines in the envelope of an email message that you can see if you ask your mail client to show the internet headers, or full headers of the message). By analyzing these postmarks1, SpamCop can trace the actual origin of the message. By accumulating spam reports, SpamCop develops a database of known spam sources. It then uses this database to analyze new messages, and marks those coming from known spam sources as likely to also be spam.

The technique that SpamCop uses is known as DNS blacklisting2, which some find controversial because they feel it could block legitimate mail that happens to originate at the same computer the spammer is using. SpamCop gets around that issue by only holding mail from suspected spammers — it leaves it up to you to choose to accept or reject the suspected spam, and if you like, to mark a particular address as being okay to always pass through (by putting it on your whitelist).

So, how do you use SpamCop.NET? After you sign up for an account, you can either arrange to have your old email address forward to your new SpamCop address, or you can configure SpamCop to pick up your mail from your old address. You have a choice of reading your mail using SpamCop’s web-based mail reader, or you can forward all unblocked mail to a new, private, email address (it can’t be your old address, or the mail will just go round and round in a loop). Keep this new address completely private — only SpamCop should know about it and only SpamCop should ever deliver mail there. You’ll need an email client that can be configured to pick up mail at your private address, but send mail using your public address to make this work best. (Unfortunately, AOL is not that flexible.)

Yes, it’s a bit contorted, but that is only if you want to keep your old public address around. If you are just as happy to discard your old public address, you can just use your SpamCop address as your public address. If you have a number of public addresses, like a free one from your alma mater, or a professional society, you can forward those to your SpamCop account too, and pick up all your mail in one place.

Recently, SpamCop has added two new features, virus scanning and a filter that analyzes email for spam-like content (the particular filter SpamCop is using is called SpamAssassin (again not to be confused with or, two commercial sites trying to capitalize on’s success). The virus filter simply discards messages with viruses in them. They never reach your inbox. SpamAssassin uses a number of heuristics including Vipul’s Razor to score messages, and messages with a high spam-like score will be held for your approval before being sent to your inbox.

SpamCop.NET isn’t a perfect solution. I don’t think there is one. But it is the best I’ve found to date. I’m not associated with them in any way, just a happy customer. If you are as inundated with spam as I am, you might want to have a look.

1. Postmarks can be forged too, but SpamCop.NET is careful to trace the postmarks backwards from known trustworthy sources and to discard any that could be forged. If you want the gory details — the postmark is applied by the computer that receives the message (hence the Received: moniker), and records the IP address of the sending computer. This address cannot be forged, since the two computers have to carry on a two-way conversation to deliver the message.

2. Blacklists and whitelists use the traditional definition of good and evil. Addresses on a blacklist are considered evil, those on the whitelist are considered good.

11:31 | Link | Reply | Track


Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be file-sharers!

So far the RIAA has succeeded in stopping a 12-year old girl, a Yale professor, and a 71-year old grandfather from sharing music. Will that make them buy more CD's, or just make them cynical and bitter?

[Full story: Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Mother settles piracy case.]

23:03 | Link | Reply | Track


Eating your own dogfood (not)

Seems Microsoft has had to give up on using Windows to host its own web sites:
ZDNet UK - News

13:50 | Link | Reply


Joke Technology

FW: Fw: Fw: Re: FW: re: Fw: Reely funny!

>>>>Note: Forwarded message attached
>>>>>>>>Scroll down...

How many of these do you get each day? I think it’s amazing that email has been able to preserve all the features of the earlier fax joke technology where the joke becomes completely illegible after it has been passed on more than five times.

Luckily, Columbia University has shown that none of us are separated by more than six degrees; so, if you get a joke that is illegible, you can assume that everyone you know has already seen it and save the electrons (or fax paper).

10:48 | Link | Reply | Track


Why Fi?

Tech Superpowers, the folks who bring you Newbury Open — free wireless internet access on Newbury Street, have an interesting demo at Boston's South Station. The have set up a wireless internet “bubble” that lets travellers get a glimpse of what it might be like to have free wireless access in the station.

Unfortunately, they inform you, the “powers that be” are holding out, thinking that someone is actually going to pay them to have the right to the wireless airspace in the station (presumably because they will then charge people to access the internet from the station).

Wrong business model if you ask me. Wireless internet access should be like Muzak or plant services. They enhance the value of your space by making customers linger and spend more money…

Who are these mysterious “powers”, and how do we get though to them?

20:27 | Link | Track


The League of Extraordinary Copyrights

Hollywood hoist with its own petard:

One of the film’s problems, and the comic book’s strengths, is enormously relevant in an age of rampant online file-sharing and courtroom wars over extension of the copyright term. In the comic book, Moore shows the benefit of having a rich public domain. He plucks old characters from obscurity, brings them together and makes them dance. The public domain works the way it’s supposed to. New creators enliven old works and send interested readers scurrying back to the original texts.

At the same time, the film illustrates how modern copyrights restrict the use of established cultural texts that should be in the public domain. For American audiences, Tom Sawyer is added to the mix, but evidently Fox couldn’t clear his film rights, so he’s referred to only as “agent Sawyer.” A friend of mine walked out of the movie having no idea Mark Twain’s rambunctious kid was all grown up and inexplicably sneaking about London with a shotgun.

[Full story at MSNBC]

08:19 | Link | Reply


Apple to RIAA: Get a clue!

"The way to go after illegal file sharing services is to compete with them, says Peter Lowe, Apple's Director of Marketing for Applications and Services. This can be done by offering quality and speed that is greater than that of file-swapping services, Lowe says."

[Full article at MacNN ]

23:04 | Link | Reply



The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is campaining to reform the way music is paid for, and 'decriminalizing' music sharing.

Free the Tunes!

10:43 | Link | Reply | Track


College education

"Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, citing concerns about student privacy, moved yesterday to quash subpoenas issued by the recording industry to discover the identities of students the industry says are illegally distributing copyrighted music."

[Thank goodness someone is showing sense. How can subpoenas issued without judicial review be honored over constitutional rights?

Full story by James Collins in The Boston Globe]

15:54 | Link


Left your windows open?

Microsoft admits critical flaw in nearly all Windows software

[Full article at Security Focus]

11:09 | Link | Reply


"The music industry has issued at least 871 federal subpoenas against computer users this month suspected of illegally sharing music files on the Internet, with roughly 75 new subpoenas being approved each day, U.S. court officials said Friday."

[Full article in Salon]

1. jackboot the spirit or policy of militarism or totalitarianism

11:06 | Link | Reply


Would you like spam with that?

With all of Europe set to implement Opt-in legislation by October, Europe has taken the lead in banning spam and is no longer waiting for the United States to stop the huge American spam problem, problem that most of Europe suffers from with over 90% of all spam hitting Europe being sent by American (mostly Florida-based) spammers.

But the United States is going in the opposite direction to Europe and is now set to explode the spam problem far worse than it is today, incredibly by actually legalizing Unsolicited Bulk Email instead of banning it.


[Full article at Spamhaus]

18:49 | Link | Reply

Download a file, go to jail

Latest round in the RIAA's attempt to get Congress to force us to buy a product we don't find value in.

16:33 | Link | Reply


EFF Launches "Let the Music Play" Campaign

Urges 60 Million Music Lovers in U.S. to Demand Legal Rights

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday, June 30, launched a "Let the Music Play" campaign urging the more than 60 million U.S. citizens who use file-sharing software to demand changes in copyright law to get artists paid and make file- sharing legal.

The EFF Let the Music Play campaign counters the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) announcement that it will file thousands of lawsuits against individuals who use file- sharing software like Kazaa, Grokster, and Morpheus.

"Copyright law is out of step with the views of the American public and the reality of music distribution online," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "Rather than trying to sue people into submission, we need to find a better alternative that gets artists paid while making file sharing legal."

EFF's Let the Music Play campaign provides alternatives to the RIAA's litigation barrage, details EFF's efforts to defend peer- to-peer file sharing, and makes it easy for individuals to write members of Congress. EFF will also place advertisements about the Right to Share campaign in magazines such as Spin, Blender, Computer Gaming World, and PC Gamer.

"Today, more U.S. citizens use file-sharing software than voted for President Bush," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Congress needs to spend less time listening to record industry lobbyists and more time listening to the more than 60 million Americans who use file-sharing software today."

According to online media analyst Big Champagne, more than 60 million Americans are using file-sharing software.

For this release:

EFF file-sharing campaign site:

EFF file-sharing ad:

How to not get sued for file sharing:

08:06 | Link | Reply



More money than time

Rx for Music Industry: Seek Out the Old Geezers

The New York Times

Here's a business model with a future: sue your customers. That's what, as of this month, the recorded-music industry has been doing. It filed suit against four college students involved in Internet file-sharing (in which compressed "files" of music are swapped, Napster-style), asking for billions of dollars in damages. Yes, billions. Interestingly enough, the Bush administration, known to be opposed to frivolous lawsuits and in favor of tort reform, has weighed in on the side of the industry. Let's go after those students. That's where the money is.


[Full story at The New York Times (free subscription required)]

13:31 | Link | Reply


Music industry swamps swap networks with phony files

Major record labels have launched an aggressive new guerrilla assault on the underground music networks, flooding online swapping services with bogus copies of popular songs.


[full article at]

08:49 | Link | Reply


Embrace file-sharing, or die

A record executive and his son make a formal case for freely downloading music. The gist: 50 million Americans can't be wrong.


"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property." [Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson in 1813]


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed by Congress in 1998 to address how technological innovation would affect intellectual property. In drawing up the document, Congress looked to the RIAA and similar groups for guidance as to what the law should contain. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently released a study titled "Unintended Consequences: Four Years Under the DMCA" which goes on to detail how the "anti-circumvention" clauses of the DMCA have been used to stifle innovation, censor free speech, and threaten academic/scientific research. These chilling effects of the DMCA contradict and limit the "fair use" doctrine that is an important part of copyright law. Additionally, the digital rights management (DRM) initiatives that the RIAA and MPAA propose to protect their copyrights do nothing to protect the "fair use" rights of consumers.


[Full article:]

[For more on Jefferson's letter and patenting in general, see:]

21:52 | Link | Reply


Don't call me

In case you didn't see it in the Globe today, the state of Massachusetts has launched its "Do Not Call" registry, which "allows residents to block telemarketing calls to their homes..."

Mass. Residents can sign up until March 1 using a Web site, or by telephone, (866) 231-2255, or through the mail at PO Box 1348, Boston, MA 02117.

The article also says:

Under the new law, which takes effect April 1, telemarketing firms that fail to register or that call consumers on the lit will face penalties of $5,500 per violation. Calls from nonprofit and political organizations are exempted.

Also, a friend sent this "beep", which he claims if you record as the first thing on your answering machine, will make the telemarketing auto-dial machines hang up (and maybe even delete your phone from their list). This is what the Telezapper (as seen on TV, before midnight tonight) does.

Download file

11:58 | Link | Reply


What Do Intellectual Property Owners Want?


Why copyright? Why did this obscure branch of "intellectual property," this private concern of entertainment and software firms, become the most pressing public policy area of the computer field?

[The Sklyarov and Jonansen cases] make us suspect that the multiple tentacles of the "intellectual property" leviathan bears barbed hooks on each end--and that some of the critical issues in modern democracy and discourse may be snagged by them.


(This article is also currently in print at The American Reporter,

12:08 | Link | Reply


Voting machines

A third world country decided to go democratic, turning to the USA for guidance. On a limited budget, they could only afford second-hand equipment and got some voting machines from the city of Chicago.

With great fanfare, they held their election, with Fyodor Guantanamo running against Kwame Santahara.

The winner was …
Richard J. Daley.

[From RISKS-FORUM Digest 22.38]

06:03 | Link | Reply



"The sad fact is that the legitimacy of government in the United States will remain in question as long as over 98% of the vote is tabulated by machines that can be easily rigged, impossible to audit, and owned by a handful of private companies. Until we get rid of those voting machines, democracy in America may be a distant memory."

Lynne Landes


09:39 | Link | Reply


New heights in spam

"This is not spam! You are receiving this message because you are listed in an email database that I have purchased."

Oh, I see.

10:12 | Link | Reply


The new spam logic

[Opening sentence from a recent spamvertisement:]

"This email is never sent unsolicited, you are receiving this message because we went to your site and you were chosen by our company to participate."

09:13 | Link | Reply


An eye for an ell

How well does your email font distinguish ‘l’ (ell) and ‘I’ (eye)?

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 15:23:18 GMT
  From: (Avi Rubin)
  Subject: Fake Paypal site collects user ids and passwords
  Somebody in the Ukraine registered (note the
  resemblance to PayPal, especially with the upper-case I
  [in some fonts]), then copied Paypal's HTML and sent
  mail to a bunch of paypal users saying 'J. Random has
  just transferred $827 to you using PayPal, log in at to claim it!'  of course, as soon
  as you "logged in" your password was mailed to some free
  e-mail service. For more on the story see
  <> among other

[From Risks Digest]

09:53 | Link | Reply