Monday, February 27, 2012

Social Media Tracking. How the U.S. Government is Spying on You.

We've probably all heard the stories. Don't say certain words on the phone when talking to someone, because the  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will show up at your door uninvited. Well its not likely those rumors are actually true, though not many would actually test such a thing. It's a little like standing in the mirror and saying "Bloody Mary" three times, everyone gets to the second one, but stops before the third. Why take a chance, you know? Well when it comes to FBI wiretapping, with a warrant, either issued as part of an open criminal investigation, or a FISA warrant requiring you meet certain guidelines of being involved in espionage, this kind of story seems silly. In Katz vs. United States, 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled regardless of the location, a conversation is protected from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment if it is made with a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. So unless you fall under the two categories I've already specified, you can expect your conversations on the telephone to be private.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anonymous Hacker Group Announces Plan to Shut Down the Internet on March 31, but Can They?

You may have heard of a group of hackers who hit the seen back in 2003 calling themselves Anonymous. Although much of their time was spent in secret, in 2008 they starting creating a fuss by using distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks to take down major corporate websites. Since then, they have begun a campaign that targets major corporations in a fight against piracy and governments who align themselves with these corporations. On January 19, 2012, one day after the major internet blackout against SOPA, the Justice Department and FBI raided the offices of MegaUpload and shut them down. Anonymous retaliated by taking down the websites of the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Universal Music Group and Broadcast Music, Inc. Very quickly these sites were brought down with a relentless assault of packets, an attack that lasted days.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why Windows 8 Will Fail, at Least In the Desktop Market...

Well many of you are probably windows users, in fact estimates are that around 90% of all computers are running Microsoft Windows. Of that, nearly 50% of users are still using Windows XP. That means 50% of users are using Windows Vista, Windows 7, and even older versions like Windows 2000 or maybe something even earlier. If average consumers are anything, its frugal. Most consumers take a "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, especially when it comes to something that is so expensive. The Operating System (OS) can cost 30% or more of the purchase price of a computer. Early adoption of these OSes by consumers is nearly impossible, most consumers opt to stay with what they are comfortable with, even after support has long since expired. This is probably the reason why most users are still using Windows XP today over ten years after it was introduced to consumers, its easy to use, requires little training, its very stable, and runs almost any application you throw at it. It's also full of security issues, is a major target for attack by hackers and exposes you to the world with almost no protection built in. A firewall was included with it at release but hidden to the average person, and not even enabled by default until a later service pack release. Although still considered a security risk, a well hardened Windows XP machine is still considered one of the most stable platforms to run.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why I Think Women Make Better Song Writers

I find myself listening to a lot of music and very often my musical taste seems to lean more toward the female singer-songwriters. It had never really occurred to me why, so I started to really think about it for a while.

Music is designed to connect to us on an emotional level, it tends to make us feel things we rarely experience or maybe experience too much. It invokes in us emotions we often don't feel or choose to ignore. Music becomes very personal to each one of us, a song meaning one thing to one person and something different to another. And naturally this is the domain of women, not to say that men are emotionless, far from it.

We all share the same emotions, but social norms accept an emotional female while a male showing emotion is considered contemptuous. Men and Women accept that women are emotional creatures, sometimes crying on a whim at the sight of a new born baby, newlywed bride, or the death of a fictional character in a movie. Women are comfortable with themselves and with their emotions, something most men are not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix is a documentary by filmmaker Kirby Ferguson.

In part one of the series he examines bands like Led Zeppelin and hip-hop artists of the 80's who made millions of dollars by sampling or remixing other peoples creative works.

In part two he delves deep into the film industry and shows that most films today are derivative works of the past, copied sometimes scene by scene. He dedicates most of the second part to examining the film Star Wars, which gets most of its material from the old Flash Gordon serials of the 1930's and Akira Kurosawa films. He also talks at some length about modern Hollywood films sticking to the idea of genres.

In part three he talks about how many of our modern inventions are copies of previous works. He spends a lot of time talking about Apple's extensive copying of the works of a company called Xerox to create it's own personal computer and modern graphical user interface.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ulcers, Ulcers, Ulcers, I Hate Them.

As some of you know I have Crohn's disease. If you're interested in knowing what it is just click on that link. But rather than complain about everything that sucks about that disease, I just want to complain about the one thing that is pissing me off right now. Well actually I have many things happening that are pissing me off right now to be fair, but one in particular that really annoys the shit out of me.

One of the many problems with the disease is it causes ulcerations to the tissue anywhere along the digestive tract, the means from your mouth to your anus. It also can cause them on your skin. Right now I have probably a dozen of them in my mouth and it really is causing me a lot of grief. It's very difficult to eat, drink, or even swallow without causing pain. I have at least one deep in my mouth under my tongue that is really driving me crazy.  I tried to take some pictures of them to show you but its hard for me to get a good shot of them so I'm including some examples of what they look like at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Supreme Court Rules Congress Can Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

When I first heard this, I thought it was simply a joke. It makes absolutely no sense.

The court ruled on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.

The court, however, sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ argument said Congress’ move to re-copyright the works to comport with an international treaty was more important.

The works in question became public domain in the United States long ago. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How DRM/Copy Protection Do Not Stop Piracy but Hurt Honest Consumers

Sometime ago in a futile attempt to control the content consumers purchased, companies pressured by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and others began including something new with their purchases. They called it Digital Rights Management (DRM). Often this was software that consumers would have to install on their computers with no choice, in order to play the purchased content.

Very often this software is badly written, so bad, in fact that consumers who are not tech savvy are simply unable to use the product they have legally purchased. In some cases, like the famous Sony DRM rootkit debacle, DRM was installed on consumers computers that was essentially malware. It was a a copy protection scheme that could not be seen or removed and made it much harder to play the music people had legally purchased. And because it was a rootkit, it could be exploited quite easily allowing nefarious users the ability to install malware and hide it within the rootkit, creating a security nightmare. If not for the efforts of Mark Russinovich we may have never even known about it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Collecting Every American's Digital Data For Submission To The Federal Government Without A Warrant Act of 2011

Well apparently Representative Lemar Smith of Texas was dropped several times on his head as a baby, its the only thing that explains the shit he tries to pass through the House of Representatives. You know this guy the one who sponsored the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA). Well he's at it again with a new bill called and you will love this "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" or H.R. 1981. This bill is some serious shit folks, although it purports to help protect children by collecting data on child pornographers, its way more insidious than that. BTW if you think this has anything to do with child pornography you are seriously in what Bill Maher describes as the bubble.

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (H.R. 1981) is a bill designed to facilitate the enforcement of laws relating to the prosecution of child pornography.

So now we have established that's what they want you to think. What does it really do?

Corporate Sponsored Censorship of Your Internet

You know since this whole SOPA/PIPA thing came about I started thinking about censorship and how it has started to invade our lives. When those who had settled here freed themselves from the Tyranny of British rule, it was with the belief that a free and open society was better than one where a ruler sought to control the freedom of information and of its people's rights. They believed that whatever they did it would have to be better than what they had left behind. 

There have been a lot of arguments from people that the First Amendment is not absolute that the framers would have never intended that. Let's examine that for a moment. Remember that these people were oppressed from speaking the truth in both written form and speech as well they had no ability to petition their government for grievances. People who are generally oppressed this way want something different, they don't want something a little different but usually they want the very things they believe they have a right to as a living being who thinks. 

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