My Archives: December 2004

Friday, December 31, 2004

During the holiday period we have basically left the TV and radio switched off...with the result that I'm only now coming to grips with the full magnitude of the Asian tsunami disaster. Perhaps "coming to grips" is an exaggeration: I am so staggered by the number of dead -- last I heard, 120,000 -- from a single natural disaster that I'm still having difficulty grasping it. "Thunderstruck" might be more appropriate.

At this time it's important, for those of us who support private and voluntary solutions, to promote such alternatives. So I'd like to encourage everyone to contribute to the International Red Cross disaster relief efforts. That link is for the English-language international page; you can find your local national organization there. Here are links for the American Red Cross and the Canadian Red Cross. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:11 AM EST [Link]

Monday, December 27, 2004

Well, back to blogging, which rhymes with slogging, which is how it feels right now. I lost momentum and enthusiasm when our site was down for over a week and, then, lost about a dozen blog entries when it was restored from a back-up. Many thanks to Brad for re-capturing most of them...but it has taken awhile to feel the old blogging urge tickle my wrists.

A painless way to start is with cartoons: Drew Sheneman's "Successful Liberations"; David Horsey's "Why Keep Rumsfled?"; Russmo's "Unintended Consequences"; from Clay Bennett "A Christmas Card"; Jeff Danziger's "Who Said That?"; and, Dana Summers' "What's In Your Wallet?" Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 02:23 PM EST [Link]

Happy Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, etc., to all!

For the last week I've been conducting an experiment with our new spam filter. I'm quite impressed with its performance. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:47 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 23, 2004

About a month ago I received word that a vulnerability had been found in the popular phpBB forum software. I promptly updated the forum I manage (at to phpBB 2.0.11, which fixes the problem. Now it's reported that a new worm, Santy.A, is exploiting this vulnerability to spread from one web site to another. If you are running phpBB versions 2.0.10 or earlier, you should upgrade your forum software now.      —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:15 AM EST [Link]

Monday, December 20, 2004

One could almost feel pity for Microsoft. Almost. Instead, I think I'm experienceing schadenfreude to read all the following on the same day.

Linux is now shipping the new, version 2.6 kernel. A research project has found that Linux has significantly fewer bugs than proprietary software, 42 percent of Argentina's companies are now using Linux, and IDC has forecast that Linux will generate $35 billion in revenue by 2008. Meanwhile, the next-generation Windows, code-named Longhorn, has had the much-touted WinFS file system yanked and still won't be ready for two years. (So many features have been trimmed that some wags are calling it "Shorthorn.") [more]

Posted by brad @ 04:40 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, December 19, 2004

When contemplating the ever-expanding silliness that is "intellectual property protection", one should not overlook the third leg of this peculiar footstool: trademarks. (The first two being patents and copyrights). Two of my least-favorite companies are again in the limelight.

Intel, it seems, is so jealous of its "Intel Inside" logo that it takes action against any "-inside" domain names. Even if the domain link belongs to an island. Evidently Fehmarn Island has received a letter from Intel about their "Ferhman Inside" web site. (I note, however, that the "Big Brother Inside" site is still functioning, although it hasn't been updated in four years.)

Microsoft, known to be equally pugilistic about domain names, lost one such battle recently when the World Intellectial Property Organization (WIPO) decided that the Spanish company Mocosoft could keep its domain. WIPO are not the "good guys" by any stretch of the imagination; I guess this was just a bit too much even for them.      —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:40 PM EST [Link]

Friday, December 17, 2004

F-Secure has called 2004 "The year of phishing, professional virus-writing, and arrests". Don't get too complacent about the "arrests" part. Most observers agree that the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has been a failure. And the growth of professional virus-writing is an alarming trend -- new viruses are released faster, are more effective, and are less detectable. Their purpose is not to delete your files or disrupt your usage, but instead to quietly recruit your computer into a "botnet" that can be used for email spam or for Internet extortion schemes.

With that in mind, I know I'm two weeks early for New Year's resolutions, but Bruce Schneier offers this updated list of a dozen things you should do to improve your computer security. (So far I've done ten out of the twelve.)      —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:13 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I found three more blog posts with Google.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:14 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 5 December 2004]

This disturbing information comes via Matthew Barganier at Barganier writes, Max Borders, the current program director of the Institute for Humane Studies, states: "If boiling people alive best served the interests of the American people, then it would be neither be moral or immoral." To find the statement, go slightly more than a 1/3rd down the page of Borders' blog. Note the style of the blog can be confusing as he is responding to various critics by quoting them.

Posted by brad @ 11:13 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 3 December 2004]

Hilarious! The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time.

Posted by brad @ 11:12 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 2 December 2004]

Cartoons: Tony Auth's "White House of Cards"; Ann Telnaes' "Debt Ceiling"; Don Wrights's "Objects Shown are Real Size"; Dan Wasserman's "Multiple Choice"; David Horsey's "Concern for Others"; and, Russmo's "Election Cycle." Enjoy!

Posted by brad @ 11:12 AM EST [Link]

Many, many thanks to Kirsten and to David M. for pointing out that Wendy's lost blog postings could be retrieved, respectively, from the Future of Freedom Foundation and from Google's cache. I've restored five of the lost blog entries below.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:45 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 8 December 2004]

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board is hearing Jeremy Hinzman's case today. Hinzman is the AWOL American soldier who is seeking refugee status in Canada rather than serve in Iraq. He is a test case. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:39 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 7 December 2004]

I received an interesting email from R.W. who followed up on my blog entry Bush-whacked in Canada in which I commented upon the U.S.'s clear intentions to bull through a "joint" anti-missile shield with Canada: joint in name only, of course. America would be in full charge of everything except, perhaps, of footing the bill. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:38 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 3 December 2004]

It was disconcerting to watch Bush on Canadian turf thank the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia for taking into their homes thousands of Americans who had been stranded when U.S. airports were closed and flights diverted Northward on September 11, 2001. Of course, his thanks came three years late. Of course, his gratitude was a prelude to making demands. (Neither the thanks nor the demands came with any concessions on trade issues, I note.) His talk of a longstanding friendship between Canada and the States sounded like those phone calls you get from an old and 'dear' friend who chats you up before requesting money. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:33 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 2 December 2004]

It will be interesting to see how CNN reacts to this one... (Disclaimer: I would not be posting this information if the story were not *all* over the Internet and discussed repeatedly on high-traffic sites like the Wonkette.) [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:29 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST from 2 December 2004]

Nice cartoon from Tom Tomorrow, "Here We Go Again."

Time to consider the economic situation.... [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:26 AM EST [Link]

Monday, December 13, 2004

More techie musings today, this time about my new experiences with the SpamAssassin program. No political content. Skip it if you're bored by computer trivia. [more]

Posted by brad @ 02:50 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, December 12, 2004

In Friday's blog entry I blathered on a bit about how we had to change our domain name registration to move our web site to a new server. It wasn't that long ago that this was a mystery to me, so perhaps a quick explanation will be useful to others setting up web pages. If you already understand DNS, feel free to skip this post. [more]

Posted by brad @ 01:05 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, December 11, 2004

More on the absurdities of current Intellectual Property law, with at least one outbreak of sanity: a Tokyo court has ruled that it's legal to refill Canon printer cartridges. Canon claimed patent infringement because Recycle Assist was taking old Canon cartridges and refilling them....not manufacturing compatible cartidges, take note. Fortunately the Tokyo court showed some sense (although Canon may yet appeal).

Even more offensive was Lexmark's initially-successful attempt to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against Static Control Corp., a manufacturer of chips for compatible cartridges. The appeals court has agreed to hear the case and has lifted an 18-month injunction. If you needed another reason to not buy Lexmark printers, here are two: they're abusing the law to defend a monopoly position, and if they succeed they'll jack the price of your cartridges sky-high. (That's where the money is.)       —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:30 AM EST [Link]

Friday, December 10, 2004

Life is settling back to normal after the last nine days of web server chaos. I had saved a few of my blog postings in a text file, and I've reposted them below. I'm afraid Wendy's posts of the last week are lost. And from this there are a number of instructive lessons. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:37 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST] It seems that hardly a week goes by without the RIAA suing someone or other for file sharing. And the battle seems to be on between Apple's iTunes and Microsoft, for whose form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) will control the music world. So I'm thankful to The Inquirer for reporting on non-RIAA, non-DRM alternatives for music lovers.

Magnatune and Mindawn both appear to offer a fair deal to artists and consumers alike. The music isn't free -- like iTunes, you pay for the songs you download -- but unlike iTunes, there's no DRM on the files, so you can burn them to a CD, or copy them to your laptop, or even email them to a friend. (In the long run, it pays off for the artist.) [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:32 AM EST [Link]

[REPOST] Survival time of a Windows XP SP1 computer on the Internet: four minutes.       -- brad

Posted by brad @ 09:31 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 9, 2004

If you can read this, congratulations...our DNS changes have propagated to your corner of the Internet, and you're accessing our brand-new web host. We expect this server to be quite a bit more stable than the previous one.       -- brad

Posted by brad @ 04:57 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

This item from the news site RatherBiased: CBS Recruiting Anti-War Bloggers to 'Talk Up' Army Deserter Story?...

Posted by mac @ 08:57 PM EST [Link]

We're back again. Our web host suffered a server crash yesterday, and just came back on line this afternoon, having lost all of our blog entries since November 30th. Unfortunately, this time there's not another server from which they can be fetched. (And, I'm only backed up to December 1st. Who expected two failures in one week? I should know better.)

The site may disappear and reappear in the next day or two because WE ARE MOVING TO A NEW HOST.     -- brad

Posted by brad @ 05:10 PM EST [Link]

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