Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Download details: Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta

I always wondered what the Javascript Console/DOM inspector cousin of Firefox was for I know. Handy tool

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Keep track of your senators, etc...

YouTube - Aids HIV Bayer

Bayer pulls AIDS-infected blood products in the US and sells them overseas??? This video is from early April, has anyone heard anything about this since then? I know this is the first I had heard of it.

I'll take it with a grain of salt, *but* Bayer executives overseas have already been in legal trouble over it, so I'd imagine there is truth to this story...

Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Should the Net Be Neutral?

This is going to be more than a one-sentence entry, just because I actually have a strong (and informed) opinion on the issue.

Mike McCurry is the spokesperson for the group I will hereafter (in this entry) call "the enemy". He has some ideas about net neutrality, and possibly some knowledge about it's opposite...hard to tell from the article.

Craig Newmark, while very knowledgeable about the subject at hand, gets derailed from making a stronger case by some heartfelt (and not misplaced) emotion.

Here's my take on what *should* have been mentioned in this tete-a-tete

The following comes straight from Mr. McCurry's mouth:

...The current Internet is creaky and will suffer congestion if we don't invest in improvements. The network operators prepared to make those investments need to get a return and one way is to charge a premium for managing huge bandwidth content differently. Face it, most users trying to get video want packets of video data to assemble differently than regular email content...

Personal outrage aside, there is the beginning of the bizarre argument the telcos keep making hidden here.

When the telecom companies start talking about the internet being "creaky" and "needing improvement", what they're saying is "we want more money to put in faster pipes". Astonishingly enough, although they collect money every month from their customers (broadband, dial-up, and dedicated internet-access customers) for the services they offer, *and* for the FUSF (or FCRF, or whatever acronym they choose to use containing "Federal" and "Fee"), which is something they "may" charge us all to offset the cost of...drum roll...putting in place network infrastructure.

They're already charging everyone twice, and not only do they want to add a third revenue source ( up or we slow down your internet) from websites, they have been adding a fourth source by charging broadband users extra money to open up all of the ports (or un-cap recently capped speeds) on their purchased internet connections. Innovation in billing is something telecom companies are historically excellent at.

The issue of whether users want video on demand or telnet or IRC isn't the point here. The enemy could just as easily do some QOS (quality-of-service) magic on those types of transfers as they could upgrade infrastructure. Actually, they already are, as a number of frustrated Vonage internet phone users have discovered. Bastardry at it's finest.

Yes, Mr. McCurry ticked me off, and it's obvious that he's talking in weasel-words (to me, anyway).

Mr. Newmark said:

So, to preserve the level playing field, we need to prevent the powerful from paying people for special privileges. We're NOT talking about regulation, we're talking about preserving democracy.

Mr. Newmark, I would wager, is a crusader for democracy and member of the EFF and other good stuff like that. His statement puts him very much on the side of the little guy, which is fine, just not as helpful as a more pointed rebuttal would have been.

I think he misses a really good opportunity here to frame the disagreement. I don't think the issue of powerful vs. weak is the pivotal issue in the Net Neutrality debate. I think the pivotal issue is freedom vs. restriction.

The enemy owns much of the infrastructure we use to communicate, and they see a way to make money. They don't care about connection speeds unless it's in relation to how much the profit margin goes up at a certain cost-per-node-per-MBPS. They want to make money and show their shareholders that they're good at doing it so they get *more* shareholders.

I get that. Fine. I like free enterprise and capitalism, and all the opportunity that it allows. What I don't get, or enjoy the idea of one bit, which Mr. McCurry mentions, is why they would want to purposely degrade connectivity:

It looks to me that companies are rushing to provide faster connections for Internet users, not looking how they can slow someone down (which would be a nutty thing to do from a business perspective.) Where is the problem that needs to be solved?

He's completely incorrect on this point. I guess maybe it's not obvious to everyone, but to a customer that just paid X dollars for an internet connection, if Google (who has stated it will not pay any telco or ISP for "higher tier" status) comes up slow, that means their connection to the internet is "slow". That's what the enemy wants, of course...they can use that perception to create fear on the part of websites that serve a lot of data to web-surfers and try and cow them into paying the extortion money. It's a huge bargaining chip that they are hoping will help to hold at bay the razor-thin margins they're afraid of.

The enemy *could* charge it's customers more, which would be pretty straightforward, but that would make it look like they were picking on the little guy, instead of the mighty Google, regardless of the fact that the little guy will end up paying for it anyway.

The apparently difficult-to-find (for Mr. McCurry) "problem that needs to be solved" is that of the telecoms continually trying to charge more money for the exact same service. They could build their own search engines that don't suck, video libraries that don't suck, etc, etc, and not have to worry about all that nasty cross-peer bandwidth usage that has caused irritation.

The whole thing is ridiculous, and I blame Cogent and Level 3 for getting all of this started.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Telegraph | News | The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame

The good news is: Global warming is probably not all our fault. The bad news is: Nobody thought to install a dimmer switch on the sun.

Repairing Windows XP in Eight Commands - Guide - Short-Media

Geek knowledge...learn you some.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Remote control alarm clock project.

Yeah, maybe it's pointless, but it looks like fun :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Backdoor flaws found in Diebold e-voting machines

Umm...can you say "not good"? Not one, not two, but *three* security backdoors were found in two of Diebold's voting-machine models' software.

"What they're proposing as a vulnerability is actually a functionality of the system. Instead of recognizing the advantages of the technology, we keep ringing up 'what if' scenarios that serve no purpose other than to confuse and in some instances frighten voters."

I know it's silly to hope that he's joking, but that's just plain stupid. A voting machine is supposed to enable people to record their vote in an election and provide a degree of certainty that the ballots have not been tampered with.

I fail to understand how publicly unknown backdoors to the software controlling these that do not maintain an auditable hard-copy paper trail...can be called "functionality of the system". If there is a mechanism (or, say, three of them) by which someone may gain access to the operation of the voting machines other than by normal user or administrative controls, that's a *break* in the functionality of the system.

I suppose you can still request an absentee ballot, if your county insists on using either of these flawed models, but I agree with the author of the article...the machines should be recalled and never used again.

Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles' Foe, It's Fuel - New York Times

Well, who knew...I like it when someone starts with a fresh view and helps us all gain new insight.

My biggest problem with this is that it's going to make one of my favorite movies hard to watch...if you've seen "A few Good Men" a few times, you know that the marine who dies dies of acute lactic acidosis...not sure if that pans out anymore.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

YouTube - Some girl playing Super Mario Galaxy

Yeah, I'm a Nintendo what? Between this game and the Avatar, I'll be having fun with the kids playing on a Nintendo Wii next year...

ScienceDaily: How Drug Binds To Neurons To Stop Drunken Symptoms Of Alcohol

Future advertisement: "Coffee is SOOOOO old-school. Just take a drunk-no-more pill and you can safely drive home..."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Web Developer's Handbook: developing web-sites, exploring imagination | CSS, Color Tools, SEO, Usability etc.

Need to know something web-related? Look here...

Kid's Programming Language : Learning is best when learning is fun!

"Math is Boring"...well, maybe, if you're trying to figure out how far apart mary and steve are after 30 minutes of travelling at some certain speed. Then again, if you're trying to figure out if your star destroyer's lazer is going to hit its target, maybe it's not too bad.

Programming can be fun. Video games are quite often fun...bring the two together and let your kid learn the Kid's Programming Language (KPL). Worst-case scenario, you end up with someone in the family that can fix the case scenario, your kid becomes the richest person in the world.