My Archives: April 2004

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Whew! Between travelling and tight work deadlines, neither of us has been able to update McBlog lately. Today's will have to be brief.

The Intellectual Property wars are still heating up. I see that Forgent Networks is now suing for infringment of their image compression patent. What's peculiar about this is (a) this compression scheme, JPEG, is part of a published standard; and (b) the patent is expires in less than six months. Groklaw has excellent commentary.

What does this mean for you? Probably not much. If you're using JPEG images on your web page, then -- I as understand it -- the problem falls in the lap of whoever wrote the software you use to create images. (It's that software which is theoretically in violation, not your web page.) If you're creating software which generates images, your choices are (a) wait six months before distributing it, (b) keep a low profile and take your chances (probably quite good if you're a small outfit), or (c) use an open-source format like PNG. I recommend (c).


Posted by brad @ 09:21 PM EST [Link]

Monday, April 19, 2004

Bad enough that Google will read and keep all of your Gmail. Now AOL is reading and censoring your email. According to the LangaList,

AOL is at it again. This time, it's reading *inside* its members' emails, and preemptively blocking any messages that contain links to sites that AOL doesn't want you to see.

Note: I'm *not* talking about simple mail blocks, where a mail is discarded if it originates from a "forbidden" address. No: AOL is parsing the content of its members' emails and blocking them even if they merely *mention* a site that AOL disapproves of.

This is spam control run amok...and you can't override it with a "whitelist" of approved senders. If get your email through AOL (or or, you'd best be looking for a new ISP, or an alternate email service that doesn't take spam filtering out of your hands. And tell your friends who are AOL subscribers, in case they're wondering why they're missing emails. (Thanks to our friends the Millers for passing this on to us.)


Posted by brad @ 06:27 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, April 17, 2004

There is no joy in FUDville. BayStar Capital, who invested $20 million into SCO after SCO started their IBM/Linux lawsuit, now wants their money back. Evidently SCO has done something which, according to the terms of the deal, allows BayStar to immediately redeem all of their preferred stock...for cash. SCO says they won't pay; expect another lawsuit soon. Royal Bank of Canada, which invested $30 million under similar terms, hasn't said yet if they'll ask for a redemption. Even if RBC stays in, SCO will have a hard time raising more funds.

A Slashdot poster summed it up best: "I think this is the first recorded instance of the ship leaving the sinking rats." [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:59 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, April 15, 2004

A bit of a travelogue today. I've just returned from a visit to the Real World Linux show in Toronto, so I'm in a reasonably mellow mood. It's pleasant to be able to talk face-to-face with representatives from some of the major players in the open source world: IBM, HP, Novell/SuSE, Red Hat, Apple, and Sun, and a lot of smaller local outfits as well. [more]

Posted by brad @ 03:08 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, April 11, 2004

In the lamebrained naiveté department: as a solution to the spyware problem, Simson Garfinkel, in a column for Technology Review, is proposing a "Pure Software Act" modeled after the Pure Food and Drug Act. Garfinkel suggests:

Congress could pass legislation requiring that software distributed in the United States come with product labels that would reveal to consumers specific functions built into the programs.

Open source adovcates who haven't thought this through believe that this will deal a blow to Microsoft. Wake up and smell the music, guys: this proposal would be the death of open-source software.

Two words: compliance costs. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:49 AM EST [Link]

Friday, April 9, 2004

SecurityFocus has a nice article in The Register about the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), and how the private sector is rushing to cash in...or as they call it, "Milking the Internet surveillance cash cow". I found this particularly chilling:

[Ex-FBI agent Michael Warren] believes the FBI is angling to make their case before Congress next year, when the sunset provisions on the Patriot Act go into effect. "If Bush is reelected, Congress will be primed for this," he said. "Expectations for privacy are being lowered right now. They'll have law enforcement behind them, and with congressmen and senators up for reelection, they'll feel pressured to have this in place to make up for what they'll lose when the sunset provisions go into effect. But," he added, "if Bush is defeated, this could go south."

Posted by brad @ 01:10 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

On Monday, I was struck by "shock and awe" to hear Ted Kennedy declare, "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam." [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:24 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

I see that Wendy has already written about Google's awful new web-mail service. Here's another article about Google's attack on privacy. Google intends to retain all of your "Gmail," even after you terminate service; snoop through it, and match it up to any other data thay have about you. I'm sure John Ashcroft is licking his lips in anticipatory delight.

It's bad enough when government does this; it's no better when done by the private sector, and Google won't be hobbled by incompetence. Do not sign up for Gmail. It might be safe for a "throwaway" email account, but I think a full boycott is in order. I'm sufficiently angry that I'm even evaluating alternative search engines.

This returns me to the subject of "cookies" and their use in data mining. [more]

Posted by brad @ 04:43 AM EST [Link]

Here is my understanding of what is happening in Iraq re: Muqtada al-Sadr, an understanding which may well be imperfect but which may be useful nevertheless for those who are consuming news-lite from sources like CNN... [more]

Posted by mac @ 04:38 AM EST [Link]

Monday, April 5, 2004

Today's cartoons: Boondocks hits a homerun with "Good News"; Jack Higgins' powerful cartoon/commentary "You Slay Me"; Stuart Carlson's wry "Willing, Able, and Eager"; Glenn McCoy's "Taxi"; and, Ted Rall's "Maybe They Hate Us".

I just received an advanced copy of the May issue of Penthouse in which I have the feature article! Alan Dershowitz has a piece as well but I've not forgiven him for coming out for the "right to torture prisoners"... don't think I will ever respect the man again. That's a shame because I used to point to him as an example of someone with whom I could disagree drastically on many points but for whom I had continuing regard. "The right to torture prisoners"... that position is the death of respect. But getting back to Penthouse...YooHoo!! [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:10 AM EST [Link]

Friday, April 2, 2004

Before it vanishes, hop over to ibiblio and check out their April Fool's headlines. Top story: "Duke University Purchases Public Domain." [more]

Posted by brad @ 04:02 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, April 1, 2004

I've known for some time about the controversy surrounding the widespread use of Dihydrogen Monoxide. I was not, however, aware of the defenders of this pervasive substance, who in an effort at "spin" have renamed it Hydrogen Hydroxide. Thanks to our friends the Millers for alerting us.


Posted by brad @ 02:05 PM EST [Link]

Grins: Mark Fiore's delightful animated "Sorry" and his rather heavy handed "philosophers"; Nick Anderson's "Warning Signs"; and, a Google Press release, dated April 1st, which I believe to be a tensile yield-strength test on the joints of my pedal extremety.

Please Note: Prolific email viruses are clogging the Internet. Our Linux system gives us immunity from those viruses but we still get spam and contagious email from people whose computers have been infected. If any of my several email addresses is in an infected address book, then you may be receiving email that purports to come from me/us since some of the viruses will grab onto eddresses and forward themselves automatically. We do not send out unexpected attachments to people; please do not click on anything purportedly from us that arrives in your inbox without prior notice. For more information about current viruses see Symantec (Norton). [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:18 AM EST [Link]

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