This weblog is no longer being maintained. All information here has been ported to EclecticEchoes.com. This site (heupel.com/eclectic) remains only for archival purposes.

October 31, 2003

Stubbornness and Mules

Another great web comic, Overcaffeinated is definately worth the weekly visit. I especially love the Motivator spoofs in the Gallery—”Insanity” may just become my desktop wallpaper.

Posted by Eric at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2003

W3C Challenges Eolas Patent

Now, here is some good news on the Eolas patent issue. the W3C under Director Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the Web) has sent a letter, including evidence of prior art and the disruptive effects of the Eolas patent to the USPTO. Tim and the W3C are urging the USPTO Director to review the prior art and take action.

“The sole difference between the Web browser described in the ‘906 patent [the Eolas patent] and typical browsers that the patent itself acknowledges as prior art, is that, with prior art browsers, the content is displayed in a new window, whereas, with the ‘906 browser, the content is displayed in the same window as the rest of the Web page. But that feature (i.e., displaying, or embedding, content generated by an external program in the same window as the rest of a Web page) was already described in the prior art filing submitted by W3C.

via Dan Gillmor who also links to the Ray Ozzie posting that shows evidence of other prior art. It’s a bad patent all the way around.

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A small victory vs. DMCA

The U.S. Copyright Office ruled that Static Control Components microchips do not violate the DMCA. Lexmark (among others) have chips in their cartridges that detect when the cartridge is “empty”. Once the chip has detected an empty state the cartridge is useless, even if you refill it with ink the chip will always report the cartridge as empty. SCC developed a replacement, compatible chip so that it can refurbish the cartridges and resell them. Lexmark sued SCC in 2002 using their chip and the DMCA to protect their ink sales from competition. There have also been reports that Lexmark chips are actually set to report empty when the cartridge is only 2/3 to 3/4 empty—increasing ink purchases. Now SCC gets to look at how much their sales etc. were damaged by Lexmark, and seek damages. Of course this ruling will also mean that printer manufacturers will have to re-evaluate their pricing models. Especially in the low price printers the actual printer is often sold at margin or at a loss, but the markup on the ink cartridges more than makes up for it.

In the greater scheme of things though this puts a dent in the DMCA as it specifically allows development of compatible software and hardware to provide recycling and remanufacturing of ink and toner cartridges. This ruling will hopefully get expanded to cover similar areas in the future.

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Social Implications of Mystic Pizza

You find some strange things trolling through access and referrer logs.

  • 60% of this months page view (as opposed to hits) traffic is from bookmarks and direct address-bar entries
  • 17% is from search engines (with Google being 65% of that traffic and MSN taking another 18% (!) —whatever happened to Yahoo! and Alta Vista and who is “Mamma” ?)
  • 15% is from other weblog aggregators such as Technorati and Weblogs.com
  • More visitors are using Safari than Firebird (my personal browser of choice)
  • according to my corner of the web, Mac’s make up almost 30% of the world(!)

The search phrases this month are a bit odd

  • the most popular search phrases to bring people here were various permutations of ”ping pong matrix”. Almost a third of the search traffic came on that subject, which is odd as at google Eclectic Echoes is way down there on the list—like #29—third page with normal google pref’s.
  • for some reason “cubs jokes” and “cubs last pennant” were very popular as well. Don’t worry ya’ll spring training is right around the corner ;)
  • kopi luwak brought about 7% of the search visitors—I’ve got to see if he has any more.
  • there were of course the occasional pirate searches, such as a number of searches for “exceleverywhere crack” (11 separate searches) and “Mystic River bit torrent” (7 of those)
  • one determined person managed to find a link to Eclectic Echoes from the search phrase “october 2003 thunderbird for sale by owner in usa” supposedly he found this on google—don’t ask me how as a “site:heupel.com” failed miserably

Most of the odd ball searches are a result of the monthly archive pages where a large number of diverse entry titles get indexed by google as one page, leading to google, and searchers, finding this site as a place to get their pirate copy of Mystic River or a “sexy photo of Lawrence Lessig.”

The weirdest search however, yet one that was interesting—not that Lawrence Lessig isn’t; he has my deepest respect and admiration, but I don’t need to see a photo of his brain or principles to know how sexy, well you know what I mean—is a google for the phrase “Social Implications of Mystic Pizza” which scored against the September archives in which I discussed (amongst others) …”Baby Boomers are starting onto Social security…IAB report on implications of SiteFinder…map centered on Mystic Pizza…” I’m sure this searcher was disappointed to find no deep social implications of Mystic Pizza—either here or in the movie—but I would like to know what type of Social Implications they were expecting to find? Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the movie—even before I liked the pizza—but I doubt that much more could be gleaned about the “social Implications” on the web than is available from watching the movie a couple of times. Or was this maybe an attempt to short cut a college sociology assignment?

Mystic Pizza is a great place, with or without the movie of the same name. The pizza is great (especially try their “Grecian”—my personal favorite), as are the grinders (“subs” to those not from New England, like myself.) It is the only pizza that our 3 year old son will eat every bite of. When he says pizza, he means Mystic Pizza. He takes a lot of pride in ordering it himself from the patient and excellent staff, I also think he’s taken a liking to one of the ladies who usually takes the food orders at the bar. They have both a sit down restaurant section and a bar / carry-out area. A lot of locals will lunch in the carry-out area (always a strong indicator of how good a place is—locals eat there despite it being popular with tourists) and there are always a couple of locals having a beer or two at the bar in the evenings. 

We live right across from the original Mystic Pizza—there is a new branch store in North Stonington now. Everyday tourists from around the world stop in front of Mystic Pizza, many with just one goal—getting a picture of themselves under the Mystic Pizza sign. Just the other day I watched as the husband of what had moments before appeared to be an entirely rational and calm woman in her late 30’s early 40’s—I say “moments before” as she was now bouncing up and down and speaking in tongues much like a hyperactive toddler would on Christmas morning after having 30 bowls of “Sugar Choco Crunchies.”—almost get run over as he found the optimum position to take a picture of her under the signage with their little point and shoot camera. The perfect spot to get her and all of the front of the Mystic Pizza was right in the middle of the east bound lane of Main Street, which just happens to come around a blind curve at our parking lot, about 15 yards uphill from Mystic Pizza. Social Implications…

Posted by Eric at 03:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2003

Hope, Determination

Hope

Just two flowers left in this garden that during the spring and summer is filled with scores of blooms. After the recent frosts in the mornings I was surprised to see them, let alone see them standing so beautifully. The bee was extremely lethargic on yesterday’s crisp autumn afternoon, but seemed determined to get one more meal of pollen.

Anyone know of a way to export Outlook “.pst” files to any sane format such as mbox? Preferably one that completely maintains attatchments and all original headers.

Posted by Eric at 04:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2003

Two pictures

Fall ReflectionsSmiling in the pond.

Two pictures, taken less than two minutes apart, of the same subject, with very similar framing and composition. The result however is two extremely different pictures. The thumbnails are zoomed in to different parts of each image, maybe not the best to show the similarities of the images, the full shots are linked from the thumbs. Any preferences?

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October 26, 2003

Pictures around Mystic

Stains on graniteTwo in PortTwo in Port

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Skillswap on a personal level

My sister-in-law told us about a program she and her friends (mostly dancers in New York) have started—sort of like Skillswap only on a more personal level. My sister-in-law taught the others the basics of Thai Yoga one week (she is an instructor) and more recently she has taught bread baking. One down side to living in a smaller town is the lack of direct access to a large peer-group for this sort of thing.

Posted by Eric at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Panther Calling

I have a confession to make—recently the world of OS X has been drawing me towards it with a stronger and stronger pull, especially after reading Mark Pilgrim’s Panther review. I am not ashamed of it—I am, in fact, fairly platform agnostic. Over the course of the past 20+ years I have used and owned systems from Tandy, Sperry, Data General, HP, IBM, Commodore (Amiga’s) and a host of home brewed PCs built on Intel, DEC Alpha and Athlon chips. I have owned a few classic Mac’s but they were used mostly as inter-networking test cases and linux terminals. (A couple were gutted and sacrificed for art projects in design classes a few years ago also.) I’ve used CP/M, Unix (as in AT&T system 5), DG Unix, HPUX, Dos through Windows XP, Amiga OS, and a variety of flavors of Linux as operating systems. From a purely philosophical viewpoint I would rather run Linux, but from a practical standpoint, too much of the software I rely on is only available either under Windows or OS X.

Software investment has always prevented me from using Macs, besides I was not terribly enamored with the MacOS 9 and earlier. Of course now I could easily add a Mac to my existing network, and many of the key software publishers are allowing liberal cross-grade programs, if not automatically including both OS X and Windows versions on one CD. A new Mac running Panther would be pretty nice actually, a very well designed machine with a well designed OS based on a solid open source core—whats not to like? Oh—yeah only one mouse button. Well so that’s one thing. 

I would still always have at least one Windows based machine, my video editing suite is not available for Mac, but it would actually add a great deal of flexibility to have a Mac on the network for that as well. It’s really getting tempting, I think I’m going to have to stay away from any Apple stores for a while. Luckily I think the nearest one is a solid hour drive away.

Posted by Eric at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2003

SCUBA Vet Profiling

A good writeup about why TIA —and the other Orwellian profiling schemes that have been suggested—are a bad security trade off by Bruce Schneier, author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World

“I have an idea. Timothy McVeigh and John Allen Muhammad - one of the accused D.C. snipers - both served in the military. I think we need to put all U.S. ex-servicemen on a special watch list, because they obviously could be terrorists. I think we should flag them for “special screening” when they fly and think twice before allowing them to take scuba-diving lessons.

“What do you think of my idea? I hope you’re appalled, incensed and angry that I question the honesty and integrity of our military personnel…”

If his sarcastic example was used I’d be on the “watch list” for “extra” attention and screening—ex-military and rescue-scuba-diver certified—scary!

Update: 10/26

I was reminded via email that I also frequent the local library-I read, therefore I’m dangerous?

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October 24, 2003

Lessig v. Rosen

I really wish I could have seen the Lawrence Lessig and Hillary Rosen debate in person. There is a review of it at the Daily Trojan though. From the sounds of the Trojan article it was a good set of debates (two separate nights). From reading the Trojan article a few things stood out for me.

Hillary Rosen is part right when she said “What I think has happened is not really that people support piracy, but people are pretty much just pissed off about the entertainment industry being so slow to embrace technology.” Not only are people upset about how long it’s taken RIAA et. al. to embrace the technology, but at the same time the cost of a hit song has continued to rise significantly while the cost of manufacturing and distributing has decreased. Many consumers are pissed at the industry’s hostility towards consumers evidenced through lack of selection, rising consumer costs of music, accusations of thievery and, of course, the latest rounds of lawsuits.

Hillary also acknowledged the benefit’s Lessig’s “rip, mix and burn” theory for creating new art, but she argued that the issue was not about transforming art but stealing it. Unfortunately with the laws as they are the two issues are intimately intertwined and there is no easy way to effectively separate them. Rosen agreed the copyright system was “antiquated,” she stressed the need to protect the creative work of musicians. This is a marked change for Rosen, but the stress should be placed on establishing and preserving a balance between the public domain and protection of artists—not one over the other.

Rosen also expressed that the industry would like a “do-over” regarding the rising costs of music, she said the industry would like a chance to reconcile with consumers. Unfortunately Rosen is no longer the head of RIAA, and RIAA is not currently expressing any strong desire to reconcile, even Universals recent price cuts are really limited and are mostly cuts in the end resellers available mark-up—not Universal’s.

The Trojan quoted one attending student “I was surprised by Ms. Rosen’s comment that art has no value until you like it.” I wish I could see the context of the original Rosen statement. It seems an extremely narrow-minded greed-motivated viewpoint, it shouldn’t surprise me to see it, yet it still does. I just hope it is a case of being quoted out of context and not how she (or any of her colleagues and successors in the Industry) really feels about art. If it is, I fear this issue will never be resolved until they (RIAA, MPAA et. al.) have complete and utter control over every consumer right even loosely associated with art and entertainment.

Posted by Eric at 02:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Time to learn Perl

Well, I am definitely not a programmer, but I guess I am going to learn a bit of Perl or PHP despite that. I still have found no single tool that is affordably available to export IPTC and EXIF data to XML or RDF formats. Similarly I found no gallery type software that will recognize both formats if imbedded in the metadata of an uploaded picture. 

What I can do right now though is save EXIF and IPTC information from an image as a flat text file or a CSV file. There are a number of separate programs available under open source that can deal with either EXIF or IPTC, but none—that I know of—that handle both. It looks like if I want to have a system to read both the EXIF and the IPTC information and create an XML file (RDF or RSS or whatever) I will need to learn enough to either glue the existing tools together or learn a bit more to create my own tool. Eventually I would like to have a gallery that validates as XHTML strict with all the metadata available to the viewer of the site and in a syndication format as well.

Others have talked about Taxonomies, using FOAF with image metadata—all of which I think is great and would love to apply to all the images I have—but right now I just want a tool that will allow me to automatically generate image captions, titles, keywords, technical data etc from the metadata that is already available in the file (IPTC + EXIF.) As for what format the XML should be turned into or what DTD etc, that is the next step. First I just want to get the data out in a sane, automated manner. I figure (as a complete novice) that going with XML as the initial destination should provide flexibility as the XML file would have all the metadata in it, and could be massaged via XSLT to any of the XML based syndication formats, as well as for use on the site itself, later.

Like I said though, I am virtually a programming novice and have only begun to read up on XML—outside of XHTML that is—at all, so it is entirely possible, even probable that I am going about this all the wrong way. If you think so, or know of a tool have missed that does what I want for under a couple hundred dollars please let me know.

Posted by Eric at 12:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2003

Sexy Toys at DPR

The folks at DPReview got their hands on some of the newest high capacity compact flash cards, including 4 GB Lexar and 6 GB Pretec units. They compared them with the latest SanDisk 1 GB CF card and a venerable IBM 1 GB microdrive.

The Pretec 6 GB card is nice and has a definite geek factor, but one you pay for through the teeth—it’s got a $4,500 USD street price. It was not the fastest card in any of the tests, and in one of the write speed tests it was the slowest. Of course Moore’s law will bring this capacity of CF card down in price, but for now…

The Lexar unit is priced much better at $1,300 USD, but it suffers from the worst write performance times on the Canon EOS-10D for both JPEG and RAW formats. It also scored the worst time under Windows XP for writing RAW files. While it only carries a $100 premium over 4 of the SanDisk 1 GB units, the penalty in write speeds (especially for Canon users) is a bit steep.

The SanDisk 1 GB card consistently outperformed all other devices and is priced at a resonable $300 USD street price. 

The IBM microdrive, especially with the recent price drops to $200 USD, is highly competitive with these newer entries. It does lag significantly in the Windows XP read times—worst score of all the devices—but it leads the higher capacity cards in the write times for JPEG and RAW on both Windows XP and the Canon. The Olympus E-1, however is obviously not optimized for handling the microdrive. In that test the IBM drive did record the worst write scores, although all the cards’ test scores were higher on the Olympus than on the EOS-10D.

For my money, it’s still the microdrive that I will turn to, although, if the SanDisk unit drops another $50 I would probably switch to it. On the Canon at least, there is not enough of a difference in performance for me to spend an additional $100 per GB for the SanDisk over a microdrive. Unless I was shooting exclusively with an EOS-1Ds, I wouldn’t be tempted by the 4GB cards at all, even for all the geek factor. I like having multiple 1GB cards—less chance of all of everything being lost if a card fails—and the hassel of switching cards in mid shoot is negligible. Even shooting RAW I get ~150 shots per GB, 4x any film cassette, and the reload time is much faster. I have yet to have a single microdrive fail on me, while I have had 2 CF cards fail, so I am also a bit more comfortable with the microdrive reliability. I am also still looking more and more at the option of getting an iPod with the CF adapter to use as a storage vault for road trips, rather than investing in more and more CF cards. I learned my lesson on Jazz cartridges—I still have around two dozen of those that I never use anymore…

What I would buy right now is the Delkin CardBus CF adapter, also reviewed at DPReview. This cardbus compact flash adapter boasts an almost four-fold increase in transfer speeds from compact flash devices (including all those above) to a notebook. Sweet! Right now it takes 15 to 20 minutes to dump a full microdrive to my notebook using the PCMCIA adapter from IBM. I have thought about getting a Firewire reader, which would improve those numbers considerably (generally 2x—3x the performance of PCMCIA), but have instead adjusted my general process such that I start the download, then go and fix a cup of coffee, or a snack and come back. There have been a few times however when the download time has been quite inconvenient. From the information on DPReview I should see transfer times of around 4 minutes for a full microdrive. Now that’s a performance increase well worth my money.

Posted by Eric at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Arnold goes "Chichin Pwee Pwee"

Japander is a hilarious archive of western stars commercials for Japanese products. Found thanks to Joi Ito

“The entry on Bopuc’s blog about Japander.com reminded me of my blog entry about my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger commercials in Japan for energy drinks. This is also relevant to the entry about Lost in Translation since Bill Murray’s role is probably what Arnold had to go through. Anyway, definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen these commercials already. They’re great.” –[Joi Ito’s Web]

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October 21, 2003

Antipixel: Plaster in Japan

More excellent pictures by Jeremy Hedley. These are of old Japanese houses again, this time detail shots of the plaster walls. Beautiful, well worth a look. These are a followup to another shot he took of a plaster wall that was being lit only by bounced light, Bounced Sunlight on a Plaster Wall, another entry and photo well worth looking at.

Posted by Eric at 01:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

Things Not To Learn From Children

Oh, I know we will learn some interesting things from Johann—and any others that join our family—but there are some interesting trivia items I really just do not want to ever learn. Then again, it is funny when you’re reading someone else’s experience—I laughed hard enough to cry when I read Paul Nakada’s.

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October 19, 2003

Photo tools for XP

I found a few nice utilities—most free—to enhance managing photo’s on Windows (at least under XP).

IPTCExt 1.1, from PhotoThumb.com is a handy windows shell extension that will give you access to the IPTC information in the Explorer shell (“My Computer”). It also adds more pages (tabs) to the item properties window that show the IPTC info. You can view and edit the information, as well as add columns to the Explorer window (when viewing under “details”) to show any IPTC fields. Photothumb also offers MetaStripper 0.91, which will losslessly strip all or selected meta data from a JPEG and save the stripped version to a new location or file name. It can batch process entire folders. I need to check out Photothumb for Windows which bills itself as a thumbnailer, resizer and web page builder, it also allows IPTC and EXIF editing.

PixVue hails itself as an image management application. While it certainly isn’t a “Portfolio” type application, it does provide image previews, slideshow, image finding, gallery creation and metadata editing. Like IPTCExt it integrates into the Windows Explorer shell and adds pages to an image file’s properties window. Unlike IPTCExt, PicVue is also available as a right click context menu. PixVue allows editing of XMP and IPTC metadata, as well as a very handy copy, cut and paste of metadata through the context menu. This feature is very nice. Also an option is removing metadata. Another great feature is the creation of metadata templates for application to groups of photos. I am really impressed with PixVue’s context menu and metadata editing capabilities. Oh, it’s also available free-of-charge.

I initially installed IPTCExt, and then found PixVue. Actually I like the combination of the two even more than either alone. PicVue’s strength is in the Explorer shell context menu items it adds—metadata edit, remove, copy, cut, paste etc—it also adds property pages, but they are detail summaries without editing capabilities. It shows Exif, IPTC and XMP info on separate pages. IPTCExt adds the explorer shell view details and detailed editable IPTC property pages—Caption, Keywords, Categories, Origin—to the item properties access through the Explorer shell. I haven’t noticed any problems running both extensions at the same time.

I am still looking for a nice tool that will allow me to selectively imbed metadata into images destined for the web, and / or selectively export metadata in an xml format. Anyone know of something that can handle this? If you do please drop me a comment.

Posted by Eric at 02:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2003

Amazingly Out Of Touch

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Vatican: condoms don’t stop Aids

“The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which HIV can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk.”

I simply can not fathom the logic and reasoning behind this, and the many things quotes by a Vatican spokesman in the article. The Vatican needs to have their collective heads removed from their collective a–‘s. When I was in Mombasa, AIDS was a major issue with 24.3% of the adult population infected—and Mombasa did not have the dubious honor of having the highest infection rate in Kenya at that time. That was all 7 years ago now; I hope those numbers have gone down, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t. It’s simply amazing that the Vatican would not only take this attitude, but actively pursue it in the field. Simply amazing and amazingly tragic.

Listening to: B - King - Live At The Apollo - 10 - Peace To The World - B
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Child's Play

Oh man this hurts to think about. Modern 8—12 year olds commenting on the games we played back in the mid 70’s. Oh, if you’re half a generation or so back from me they ripped pretty hard on games of the 80’s too.

“Niko: Hey? Pong. My parents played this game.

“Brian: It takes this whole console just to do Pong?…

“John: I’d sooner jump up and down on one foot. By the way, is this supposed to be tennis or Ping-Pong?

“Tim: My line is so beating the heck out of your stupid line. Fear my pink line. You have no chance. I am the undisputed lord of virtual tennis. [Misses ball] Whoops.

“John: Tim, how could you miss that? It was going like 1 m.p.h.”

Posted by Eric at 05:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2003

News from the Commons

Some great links from the Creative Commons weblog today; first up is:

Scott Andrews and the Walkingbirds

Scott Andrews, an indie musician, has just released a new album, Where I’ve Been that has 6 songs from across 5 years of his career on it. Also on the CD are mp3 and ogg vorbis versions of the same six tracks. As a bonus the mp3 version of tracks from a previous album and a couple extra songs are also included. So the six tracks that will play in any cd audio player, and 2 1/2 albums in mp3 and ogg vorbis format for you desktop or portable player. Of course there is a price to pay for all this audio goodness— $5. Over 12 songs in mp3 format for under 50 cents each. You can of course pay more than $5 at your option. Scott is donating the additional amount to the downhill battle fund, so far he has raised almost $300 for their cause. All the mp3 and ogg vorbis tracks are licensed under the Creative Commons. Specifically they are available under the attribution—non-commercial—share-alike license. How cool is that? Sample tracks in mp3 format are available at the website, I like what I’ve heard so far. Johann stole the headphones and gave a listen—a big thumbs up from him. Be sure and read his excellent post in response to some recent music industry press and public relations marketing.

also via CCLog:

EXP | Jose Luis visual journal

The visually rich photo/web log of Jose Luis. The layout of this site is wonderful, an excellent design. This may very well be a deign I borrow from in the future. There are some excellent and unique views of San Fransisco here, most shot from the ex-military owned Treasure Island in the bay. Once again his work is all available under the attribution—non-commercial—share-alike Creative Commons license. Also of note an item which Jose caught, and something I missed with the announcement of iTunes for Windows, is that Apple and Belkin have teamed up to release a memory card reader for the iPod that will allow those of us with digital cameras to use the iPod as a data storage device for our photo’s. This is fantastic news! Using an iPod as both a music device and field photo storage device. Apple is increasing it’s pull on me, next thing you know I will be looking at a PowerBook G4. Actually Tammy already commented that the iBook is a laptop she could see herself using for more than just email. This was of course almost 9 months ago, so maybe she would prefer a 12” or 15” Powerbook as well.

Posted by Eric at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Verisign Sucks

After announcing the sale of the registrar branch of Network Solutions, Verisign attended the scheduled ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee meeting in Washington D.C., where they announced they would be reviving the SiteFinder and wildcard DNS. Verisign made it perfectly clear that they will take full advantage of the government granted monopoly over the .com and .net registries (which they retained after selling Network Solutions off). The entire purpose of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee meeting was, unbelievably, to discuss issues of key concern to ensuring the security and stability of the network with regards to the wildcard DNS changes that Verisign’s Sitefinder service implements. Verisign doesn’t seem to get this key fact. They repeatedly showed during the week that they are not terribly concerned with such mundane trivial issues, but rather care only about exploiting their monopoly. Refusing to share any of the methods and raw data behind their “polls” and “industry analysis” which shows SiteFinder to be of no harm.

Even when XO Communications (a major network—broadband provider) and others provided extremely detailed evidence of the increased bandwidth load and detrimental effects on core utilities that SiteFinder is directly responsible for, Verisign’s Ken Silva dismissed them as being hypothetical worst case scenarios, further stating that “The service ran for a number of weeks, and quite frankly, we did not experience nor did our users experience the catastrophes we’re hearing are theoretically possible. We’re not seeing the odd instabilities that are claimed.”

When Verisign defended their service by citing unpublished polls and “industry analysis” which showed support for SiteFinder, the ICANN members asked for more details about the methodology behind the polls, and for some information of the “industry analysts”. Verisign’s only reply was that information was all protected proprietary information not available for dissemination. Committee Chairman Stephen Crocker suggested those were vital details for evaluating the poll results saying “t’s not a matter of stacking the deck, it’s what are you measuring.” Verisign’s reply? Their vice president Chuck Gomes said:

“I’m utterly clueless about how what we’ve been talking about for the last few minutes has to do with security and stability”

While Matt Larson of Verisgn 

“suggested that “you guys don’t think consumers are relevant” and that committee members were unduly focused on the travails of network operators affected by the Site Finder changes.”

Verisign’s continuing mantra is that security and stability are secondary to user experience and that only Verisign knows and understands usability and user experience issues. Maybe they should talk to all the UA and IA folks that have lined up against the brain dead SiteFinder service. These issues must be balanced, and it is a very fine line to walk balancing them. Verisigns’s refusal to reveal any details of it’s “polls” makes it impossible to accept their results as anything except propaganda to support the companies position. There are documented and detailed reports of genuine issues that have been created solely because of SiteFinder, or significantly exacerbated by it’s wildcard DNS feature. Verisign’s refusal to cooperate with the committee’s attempts to find a satisfactory way forward for all, coupled with their announcement that they will give 30—60 days notice prior to turning SiteFinder back on—in essence thumbing their nose at the rest of the community—only serve to reinforce that control of the two most popular registries needs to be seperated, at least from Verisign.

More about Verisign from me.

Posted by Eric at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Data Disaster - Taking A Computer For A Swim

The BBC is running a piece on data distasters. The “Top 10” sidebar includes:
  1. Laptop shot in anger
  2. PC thrown out the window to destroy evidence before police arrived
  3. Laptop fell off a moped and was run over by lorry
  4. Laptop dropped in bath while doing company accounts
  5. Stolen PCs rescued after three weeks in a river
  6. Red wine spilt on laptop over dinner
  7. Server rescued after running unchecked 24/7 for years under layers of dust and dirt
  8. Computer thrown against a wall
  9. Latte-covered laptop rescued
  10. Laptop left on car roof as owner drives off

Reminds me of a customer I dealt with long ago when I was a supervisor for a Compaq tech support center. I can’t recall what the customer was originally upset about, but he was berating one of the techs so I stepped in and escalated the call to myself. I calmed him down and then tried to explain the options available to resolve the issue. It all seemed to be going pretty well (a simple next day onsite visit would resolve the issue IIRC), when suddenly he threw the computer–one of those Compaq all-in-ones that came out in ‘95–out his second story window into the pool below. When he realized what he had just done he actually asked me how to fix it, genuinely sorry and worried that it was truly done in. Then he started yelling again when I told him his warranty didn’t cover taking the computer for a swim, and that I would have to cancel the onsite visit. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Posted by Eric at 04:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Project Gutenberg's The Magna Carta

Project Gutenberg has published it’s 10,000th free online book with the conversion of the Magna Carta to an online eBook. In case you’re unaware of Project Gutenberg it was started in 1971 by Michael Hart and has run built since then. The first translation to a etext was the United States Declaration of Independence, followed by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. They went on to add books from almost every genre including Shakespeare, Moby Dick and other high literature to Peter Pan and Through The Looking Glass. The project developed a goal to make available for free online works shortly after they entered the public domain. Of course the copyright terms have been expanded since then dramatically, until now we have, in effect, the same “Stationers’ Company” the original copyright laws were set to prevent by the founding fathers. Project Gutenberg has, however, provided a virtual library that anyone with access to the net can use, for free. It is now being hosted by ibiblio nee SunSITE. I personally remember getting etexts from the project in the early 80’s. I think it’s high time I helped give something back by contributing to the Distributed Proofreaders, which supports Project Gutenberg by proofreading digitized texts slated for addition to Project Gutenberg.

Posted by Eric at 03:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

CERT Advisory CA-2003-27

Multiple Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows and Exchange

It looks like there are multiple vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows and Exchange Server that need some attention, the affected systems include Windows ME, NT4, 2000, XP, and Sever 2003 along with Exchange Server 5.5 and 2000. A whole range of vulnerabilities so if you run one of those operating systems / server applications first go read the advisory - then go get the updates from MS.
Posted by Eric at 11:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iTunes Windows Here

Apple rolled out iTunes for Windows just as rumors last week thought they would. iTunes 4 now supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP as well as Mac. Now Windows users have access to 400,000 tracks, including 100,000 from indie labels. Anyone care to start a pool for when they hit 10 million sales on the windows platform?

I love the “allowance accounts” they have—“Set up allowance accounts so children can access music legally, without giving them a credit card.” Maybe I should ask my wife to set up one of these for me. I wonder how long it will take for Apple (or someone else maybe) to setup a “micro-payments” scheme using the iTunes store.

Posted by Eric at 10:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Excellent use of RSS

Disoriented Express has RSS feeds for each train run by the New York MTA. The RSS feeds (HTML listings for handhelds also available) list all the Service Advisories published by MTA about the subway lines. So for instance right now…on the R:

No trains between Pacific and 36 Sts Weekend, 12:01 AM to 5 AM Sat to Mon until Oct 20

fed straight to your news aggregator or website. Ack—no N latenights either…and the M doesn’t stop after 9:30pm. Well I’m SOL this weekend, but it’s a handy service if you live in or regularly visit New York.

Via BoingBoing

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Verisign Drops Registrar Service

Verisign has decided to get out of the domain registrar (the selling and assigning of available domain names) service. I doubt this was an overnight decision, so it appears that the SiteFinder service was an attempt to drive up the value of the site registry portion of their business before selling it off. Verisign sold off the registry portion to Pivotal Private Equity, a subsidiary of Pivotal Group. Pivotal Private Equity specializes in rebuilding underperforming companies while Pivotal Group is an investment and development group that, according to it’s web site, has ”primary concentration on high-quality real estate assets in premier markets.” Under the terms of the agree ment Verisign gets approximately $100 Million USD in cash and notes. They will also retain 15% stake in Network Solutions (the sold off portion retains the name of the company that Verisign bought up years ago.) Verisign will retain the .com and .net DNS management (aka Registry)portion of the business. 

While I like the idea of seperation of the registrar from the registry, retention by Verisign of a significant stake in the registrar service and Verisign’s history cause me to be a bit skeptical, could this be an attempt at an end run around ICANN? Although I must admit that when a similar investment firm bought up the tail ends of one of my former employers they really did do a very good job of streamlining the company and returning it to profitability in a very tight and contracting market. MicronPC (now MPC) turned around by focusing on key products and listening to it’s customer base in a much more focused and responsive way. They aren’t what they were prior to Joel Koher, but they are steadily profitable and getting stronger by staying focused mainly on government and mid to large sized business contracts.

There are many more entries on Verisign available.

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Mozilla, Firebird and Thunderbird Releases

New releases of Mozilla (1.5), Firebird (0.7) and Thunderbird (0.3) came out today. The servers are pretty loaded with downloaders right now, but FTP access is fast and good.

Update:
Blogzilla has alternate downloads available until the main mozilla server load lightens up. Also available are bit torrent links. Stream the goodness.

Posted by Eric at 12:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

Where are we headed

Another political—of sorts—entry, please forgive me, but I feel I must say something.

I am growing more and more troubled by events here at home, events and policies of the government and various parties.

I have a big problem with voices of dissent being hushed with choruses of “unpatriotic” or “traitor”, especially when many of those raising the chorus are our leaders who, one would hope, have studied the political history of this nation to see that dissent and debate are key elements of it’s success as a democratic republic. Democracy is a difficult proposition at best. The needs of so many, often disparate, groups of people need to be meshed into one, hopefully universally just, system of laws and policies. Add to the internal issues the policies that should be adopted externally to both protect our own citizens, aid our allies, and put forward a good example of modern democracy and it is a tribute to any modern democracy that anything gets accomplished.

Discussion and debate are necessary for this to happen, those in power must realize and accept that not everyone will agree with their policy, even if the majority have agreed that it is the best course. Those who do not agree, have every right to peacefully voice their opinion. In fact it could even be said that their speaking their opinion is a duty to ensuring a lasting democracy. It is vital that those who actively voice their dissent from the national policy must do so with responsibility—they must rest their arguments on facts and opinions based on fact rather than cite wild allegations. They should criticize laws and policies, not those charged with carrying out the laws and policies of the state as part (or all) of their job. On both sides of this issue there has been growing abuse. Too many, or at least the most vocal and reported, demonstrations have been attacking not only policy but those charged with carrying out the policy of the US abroad. Simultaneously however there has been a seeming shift in the attitude of high level administration officials that makes them accuse any who disagree publicly with policy as ?unpatriotic.?

One issue in particular that continues to disturb me, especially with the background I have and that of members of my family, is the relative lack of action on the ?Plame affair.? I do not know the answers or all of the particulars, but it seems indisputable that high level administration officials leaked information that, if true, would be a major violation of law. (I won’t even venture into the realm of possible damage’s to national security and national resources.) Why has nothing happened? Why did it take almost 3 months for the story to break in the general media? What happened to the promise of returning honor to the White House?

Then there are stories of privacy violations and immigration issues, granted they may be isolated in the news, but they appear to be all too real and frequent. If this story is true, it is extremely upsetting.

These are not the actions and policies of the nation whose ideals I could easily defend and serve as a member of the armed forces. I only hope that it can quickly recover, and the best way of ensuring it’s recovery is working within the system–voting, peaceful smart dissension, discussion and debate. I am beginning to believe that no matter my personal political beliefs towards one party or another, it is time to change regimes. Not that the current regime has necessarily done things wrong–that is a different debate–but because the climate against dissent, debate and discussion is very disturbing and in my opinion more of a threat to democracy than anything else currently arrayed against it.

Margaret Chase said it over 50 years ago in her “ Declaration of Conscience” to her colleagues in the Senate:

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all to frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism —

The right to criticize;

The right to hold unpopular beliefs;

The right to protest;

The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know some one who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

Just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, perhaps even more so.

Posted by Eric at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yankees in Mystic


There is, she tells us in gentle admonition, no known cure for the Yankees fan.

Watched the pre-game show, along with some good natured joking between camps, at the barber yesterday. Our local barber is a Yankee’s fan to be sure, but he understands the town’s bent towards Boston… “Most just don’t know any better, but you can’t blame them…it’s upbringing.”

Interesting the way the local area is split this time of year, and especially this year, in team loyalties. We are only about 7–8 miles from the Connecticut river, but this is definitely Red Sox country. Yet just the other side of the river it is definitely Yankee territory. Here in Mystic there are the token Yankee supporters… one in the post office—just enough to keep the discusiion lively and fun between the front and back of the office. A bartender here, a barber there, they are the exceptions that keep things interesting.

Posted by Eric at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2003

Do-Not-Call list telemarketers best protection

I really do love sluggy! Bun-bun has the right idea too. 

Posted by Eric at 11:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Texture: Fire Hydrant

Cracking peeling paint on a fire call boxA while back I took some detail texture shots of one of my favorite little details around here–old fire call boxes. They are all over Mystic, but then considering the recurrance of fires–especially “Christmas Fires”–in the downtown’s history it is no surprise. Almost all of the call boxes are old, heavily re-painted metal boxes with glass doors. They are painted thickly with red and white paint, that is cracking, blistered and flaking now. They are texturally beautiful details. If you are into that type of thing like I am, enjoy these. They are licensed under Creative Commons’ “By” license (so give credit basically.) If you’re not into textures or architectural details etc, well…tune in later tonight – might post some Maples in firey fall colors. Or maybe a rant…

Posted by Eric at 09:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

Kopi Luwak in Groton: Tasting

Seaport Coffee Roasters began selling their kopi luwak this morning. By the time I managed to get down to the store, around noon, they had sold 5 pots–we’re talking about 24 cups per pot here–of kopi luwak at $5 for a 12 ounce cup. They offered 16 and 20 ounce cups at $7 and $9 respectively. They are also offering roasted beans in ¼ pound bags at $75. So is kopi luwak a perfect cup, worth $5 a cup or $300 a pound?

I sampled a cup of the kopi luwak in the store, and brought home a cup to Tammy (it’s only a five minute drive). It is definitely an excellent coffee. Kopi luwak is a rich, thick full bodied coffee. Tammy compared the body and consistency to a coffee with real cream added, no taste of milk in it, but that texture and feel. The aroma and taste were of a fruity dark chocolate, with just a hint of nuttiness. It has a subtle, muted acidity and complexity that is consistent with a very good Sumatra, but with a balance more characteristic of a Kenyen AA. In the long finish there is a distinct caramel flavor, with a very smooth clean end. Even cold the flavor and balance were very good, with slightly more astringency, and an emphasized caramel flavor to the finish. The finish was not as clean or rich when cold. Tammy remarked “I’m not normally one for cold or iced coffee, but I wouldn’t mind that…” Very nearly, a perfect cup of coffee, at least for my wife and I. The complex flavor with tones of chocolate and caramel suit our tastes perfectly and the lack of any bitterness, especially compared with a similarly roasted Sumatras, is ideal. Much of the excellence should be attributed to Joe’s expert roasting. He has obviously spent a great deal of time pursuing his roasting touch, treating it as an art as much as a science.

I would say, at least once in a lifetime, if you have the opportunity to taste kopi luwak, you should take it. I would not make this my everyday coffee by any means, but that is mainly because of it’s price. It would be nice to be able to have a cup from time to time, and if I was having a party for coffee lovers, I would seriously consider getting a quarter pound as a special event. The flavor is excellent and I will admit that for a straight brewed coffee, it is the best single bean coffee I have had anywhere. Of course the beauty of finding a good specialty roaster, such as Seaport Coffee Roasters, or home roasting is that you can blend far more affordable beans to bring out the best qualities and approach the taste, if that is your desire, of the kopi luwak with a blend. If Seaport still has some kopi luwak in a week or so though, I will probably take another cup.

Posted by Eric at 06:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 12, 2003

Kopi Luwak in Groton

A few weeks ago I mentioned a rare coffee with a rather unusual method of processing that was available in England from Foxbox. At the time I stated that I would pass on trying it, especially since it is not available (to the best of my knowledge) in the U.S. But what if a similar, and by all accounts, even rarer coffee was not only available in the U.S., but was being prepared by a roaster I know and trust right here in my own backyard?

Kopi Luwak (left) and regular unroasted beans-(c)2003 Mystic River Press/Phoebe HallI am not exactly a coffee snob, but I do love good coffees. Each place we have moved to, Tammy and I immediately seek out the local coffee shops that also sell beans, hopefully that they have roasted themselves. I first discovered Seaport Coffee Roasters, run by Joe Pangelinan and his family, when we first moved up here in mid May. His store is right down the road from the extended-stay hotel we used for 2 months while finding a permanent place to settle. I was not aware that he had in fact just opened for business the previous month.

This past Thursday Mystic’s local weekly newspaper, The Mystic River Press, ran an article in it’s “Currents” section about Seaport Coffee Roasters and Joe, particularly that he has obtained a unique and rare coffee known as Kopi Luwak. The article also had a good bit of background information about the store, it’s owner and the origins of Kopi Luwak. After reading the article I set out to see if they had an online presence to link to. The paper’s office is right next door to where I live, literally across a shared driveway from my front door, so failing to find an online presence, I went over and got permission from the author of the article and the editor to post it here.

I am now in the position where I feel I have to try this coffee, and I must admit that the opportunity is very intriguing, especially as I love full bodied brews. Joe is also a very good roaster and has always had an excellent recommendation ready for me when I wanted to try a different blend. So Monday morning I will make my way down to Seaport Coffee Roasters and try a cup of Kopi Luwak. Tammy has expressed an interest in trying it as well. We will let you know what we think.

Before I get to the article, let me say thank you to the staff at Mystic River Press for their permission to reprint the article and to use their picture, especially to reporter / photographer Phoebe Hall, who took the picture of the beans you see here and wrote the article. All copyright to the following and the image of the beans is owned by Mystic River Press and Phoebe Hall. I am reprinting it here intact, but I have added one hyperlink to a report cited in the article. I have not changed the wording, only linked to the actual report from the source online. Any typo’s or misspellings are purely my own, introduced in my transcription of the article. (I really need to bring the scanner online again)Following the article are a few more links of possible interest about Kopi Luwak and the Vietnamese weasel coffee I originally ran across.

World’s rarest coffee comes to Groton

by Phoebe Hall
Mystic River Press

On a recent episode of the popular crime drama CSI, investigators learned about a very rare type of coffee when an enzyme specific to a small Indonesian animal was found at a crime scene.

It turns out this animal, a mongoose relative known as the common palm civet or luwak, is especially fond of very ripe coffee cherries. But since it can’t digest the bean inside, it deposits them in its droppings on the forest floor.

Locals who would rather not climb the trees anyway, collect the beans on the ground and sell the coffee, called kopi luwak, at a premium price.

Just the kind of strange-but-true tale that always seems to pop up on CSI. But at least one viewer in the area already knew about kopi luwak. He had just spent five months trying to buy it.
“It’s worth it’s weight in gold,” said Joe Pangelinan, owner of Seaport Coffee Roasters in Groton.

Well, not quite. But it’s pretty darned expensive. When roasted, kopi luwak sells for $300 a pound.

Pangelinian, who opened his store in April, found out about the coffee from one of his customers, who he said called it “the world’s greatest coffee.” Sensing the perfect novelty for his coffee and ice cream shop on the corner of routes 117 and 184, he fired up his computer and started researching.

“Every place that knew about it I called, and they couldn’t get it,” he said. “So I started calling the Indonesian government.”

Happy to accommodate a potential customer, the government sent Pangelinan a small sample of kopi luwak with a certificate of authenticity. As soon as he opened the package, he knew he had something unusual on his hands.

“It looks different from anything I’ve ever seen,” he said. Compared to most raw coffee beans, which are green, raw kopi luwak is light brown–due to the fermentation process that takes place inside the palm civet’s gut.

When Pangelinan roasted the beans and brewed himself a cup, he found the taste to be one-of-a-kind as well.

“It’s very full bodied, with a carmelly type flavor to it,” he said. Compared to Sumatra coffee it has a thicker, almost syrupy texture, he said.

Coffee connoisseurs have the palm civet to thank for kopi luwaks’s unique flavor. Unlike human harvesters, who pick all the coffee cherries they can, the small, cat-like creatures select only the very reddest, ripest cherries, which happen to have the finest beans.

“You’re getting the cream of the crop,” Pangelinan said.

A recent study by the University of Guelph in Ontario found that despite its rather unsanitary origins, kopi luwak has even lower bacterial counts than regular coffee. Because the palm civet can’t digest the coffee cherry very well either, the bean is still encased in the fruit, or endocarp, when it’s excreted. The study found that removing the endocarp results in more thorough washing.

Chemical analysis also revealed that kopi luwak is indeed very different from other coffees in flavor and aroma.

“Kopi luwak is to a coffee drinker what caviar is to a fine diner,” Pangelinan said.

The Indonesian shippers Pangelinan spoke with told him he was the only person on the East Coast who had ever purchased the coffee for retail sale, he said. Only 90 kilograms (about 200 pounds) of raw kopi luwak were available for sale, Pangelinan said. He bought 5 kilograms for his shop.

Seaport Coffee Roasters will begin selling kopi luwak by the cup Monday, Oct. 13. Though Pangelinan wouldn’t say how much he’ll sell it for, several Web sites report that it sells for $5 a cup or more.

Naturally, Pangelinan hopes coffee lovers will overlook the rare brew’s processing–and its price–for the thrill of trying something new and very different.

“Some may find it unappealing,” he admitted. “But some might be intrigued.”

Seaport Coffee Roasters is located at 1279 Gold Star Highway. The shop will sell kopi luwak from Oct. 13 until supplies run out. For more information, call 445-5282

For other links:
As posted on my site:
For the Exotic Coffee Lover

Other sites covering Vietnamese weasel coffee:
Vietnamese coffee oddities and cultural miscommunication

The overall coffee situation in Vietnam, at the bottom of the page one paragraph relating to weasel coffee, which says that most weasel coffee today is synthetically prepared to simulate the passage through the weasel.

Off The Rails: A look at the nightlife in Saigon including a short passage about coffee quoted here (about 2/3 down page):

“Western style coffeeshops have also been steadily gaining popularity. The Vietnamese answer to Starbucks is the ubiquitous Trung Nguyen franchise, launched by a med-school dropout and now boasting well over a hundred locations around HCMC (and now a franchisee in Singapore as well). Although not as uniform as we expect from franchise outlets, each Trung Nguyen serves a range of coffees from 5,000 to 14,000 dong, specializing in the dense Buon Me Thuot style. Nguyen Dien, a young robotics engineer, enjoys the atmosphere, but notes that for the true Buon Me Thuot connoisseur, the potent sludge in our cups is “almost like water.” For adventure, try the famous Chon (weasel) coffee, roasted from beans that are purported to obtain their richer flavor after heaving been eaten and passed through a weasel’s digestive system.”


About kopi luwak I found:
The Coffee Critic: Kopi Luwak—An Indonesian Island Treasure by Chris Rubin
a very similar Chris Rubin article may be found also at Sallys Place

A specialty shop in Alaska, Raven’s Brew also has limited information on Kopi Luwak along with a picture of the palm civet. They currently do not appear to have any Kopi Luwak in stock however.

About.com’s Urban Legends and John Kissel’s Interesting Thing of the Day have both commented on the Kopi Luwak as well.

Posted by Eric at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2003

Roblimo XP, SCO Delays, Sunncomm

A few interesting items that are worth reading from the past couple of days:
Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miller tries out Windows XP
Rob is one of the people behind Slashdot.org and has used alternate operating systems (e.g. linux, freeBSD) for the past few years. He recounts his experience in trying a Microsoft operating system for the first time in 5 years here. In it he has some insight for both alternate OS users and Windows users—especially users hesitant to try linux. A good and funny read, written with a bit of a alternate OS slant admittedly.


Redhat and IBM backing SCO into a corner to begin discovery
:
Redhat has filed with the courts to force SCO to begin the discover phase of the trial and IBM is turning up the heat in the same area, filing papers with the court to force the discovery forward in their case. Seems SCO doesn’t want to play ball with either party. They have provided IBM with tons of documents but not one iota of information to answer the questions posed to it under the discovery process—instead pointing only at the crates of documents (some 500,000+ pages) saying “it’s all right there.” In the RedHat case SCO is stalling and asking the court to delay discovery citing that they are in current discovery with IBM and entering discovery with RedHat right now would cause undo strain (pressing the 2 copies button on the xerox) on them. More reasonably they argue that they have filed a motion to dismiss tha case and if they win that there would be no point in beginning discovery now. The discovery filing by redHat reads like a geeks dream of this situation–basically every question the community wants answers to is covered by both the requests for documents and the interogatories.

Sunncomm decides not to sue Princeton student over brain-dead security scheme
Congratulations to Sunncomm’s president/CEO for taking the right path, after the day before threatening to level a suit and DMCA violation charges against a researcher at Princeton. Grad student John Halderman exposed Sunncomm’s latest copy prevention scheme as being extremely vulnerable to circumvention, counter to the original claims of Sunncomm and the music industry. SunnComm alleged that Haldermann’s report caused Sunncomm to lose $10 Billion in valuation on the stock market. Maybe it’s because you(Sunncomm) made some rather optimistic and authorative sounding claims of having a secure method of preventing unauthorized copying of music from audio CD’s, and a grad student showed that it only takes one key—the shift key—to undo all that. Lesson: don’t claim to have a silver bullet when you know you don’t. Investors and stock people bought up your stock because you claimed to have the fix, and they saw all the labels would be clamoring to have your tech. When they saw that the claims were, shall we say overoptimistic, they dumped the stock, or at least lightened their exposure, because it is not something that every label will clamor to have—especially when both you and BMG acknowledged they knew of the weaknesses.

Posted by Eric at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

Never Again

This should be mandatory reading. I could add my own experiences from Somalia and Iraq—often providing immediate aid to children who had lost eyes and limbs— to those listed, but it is more than enough to read what USA Reserve Sgt. Todd has said in this Austin Statesman Opinion Editorial. Read it.

Posted by Eric at 03:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

IE Standards Pressure, Eolas Update

Microsoft’s IE has long been the bane of web developers. IE’s support for standards is spotty and inconsistent. This has led to (amongst other things) CSS hacks to hide or modify CSS behaviors for IE versions 5, 5.5 and 6—instead of just one trick to cover all IE browsers. Of course a similar complaint could be aimed at other browsers as well, except that generally when they fix a behavior, they usually actually fix it—not change it to another improper interpretation. Recently Adobe and Macromedia have been working to more directly support alternate browsers (specifically Opera) in possible attempts to press Microsoft to get standards right in IE. Of course Microsoft has repeatedly said it will no longer be developing the stand alone browser so it can focus on implementing browser features in Longhorn—where the OS will be the browser. The linked article quotes Jeffrey Zeldman (who wrote the book on building standards compliant sites), Eric Meyer (who wrote the books on CSS coding) as well as Jakob Nielsen (who has written too many usability books to list all of them).

In a related issue, Eolas and Microsoft both filed court papers on Monday—
Eolas wants the court to block any and all distribution of IE until Microsoft has purchased a license. Eolas would allow distribution only if those receiving IE had seperately purchased a license. Of course Eolas has not sold a single license so effectively they would be blocking all distribution. Eolas once again re-iterated that they are more than willing to sell Microsoft a license in exchange for immediate payment of the jury awarded fines and all interest—approximately $632 million. Eolas warned however that their “very reasonable” offer was not indefinite. For Microsoft’s part, they rejected Eolas’ characterization of $632 million for a mouse click as being reasonable. Microsoft also filed papers asking for a new trial and for the judge to put aside the original fine. Microsoft based their request on a number of factors including the size of the jury award and the refusal of the judge to allow discussion of key prior art. Microsoft is also preparing a defense to the recent Eolas motions to update the award to cover the period from September 2001 to the present. Here is a local list of articles on the whole Eolas issue.

So here’s hoping that Microsoft gets a new trial and is allowed to show the prior art—let the jury decide if it is indeed prior art or not—and that Microsoft will update the IE6 renderer to be fully (and properly) standards compliant—I’m not holding my breath. If you know or have cause to meet Mike Doyle—Eolas sole employee and founder—thank him for me, like with a banana cream pie.

Posted by Eric at 07:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iTunes for Windows

Rumor has it, that iTunes will be available for Windows next week. Along with iTunes for Windows the same rumors point to a greatly expanded offering of tracks for sale/download. I wonder how many months it will take to reach ten million sales and downloads on the windows platform?

All that’s left is for RIAA to back programs like iTunes, opening up their entire catalog, or implement their own version of iTunes with similar ability to copy the songs to multple devices and archive them onto CD.

Posted by Eric at 07:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seaport on a Foggy Morning - Mystic, CT

Ship and Seaport on a foggy morning- Mystic, CT

Posted by Eric at 02:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

Bush Blog Logo Recall

Ok, I try to stay away from Politics here…there are too many plenty of political sites out there, I spout off on what bothers or interests me—issues such as security, IP, media (especially personal media), culture, history, photography, and a bit of design (not much by the looks of the site admittedly.) But when I saw the “Bush Blog” I was moved to break my own unwritten rule (how political).

Did you visit the site? Go ahead, look at the site then hit the back button—
Oh, the horror!Ok, now did you see that “logo” in the right column? What on earth is going on here? Someone hacked the site and no one noticed? Bush designed the logo himself (or at least the “Blog” title element?) I don’t know, but it is rather a pathetic showing for a man who is supposedly one of the most powerful man in the world. 

I know there are a whole host of designers in Washington D.C. who would gladly take any job, especially one with high visibility and really work it to make it shine. Of course, all of this leaves the media identity consultant out of the equation, which most certainly would not be the case. Then what can be going on? The attempt to stretch the “B” from “Bush” and the “B” from “Blog” into one letter that works as part of the whole, just doesn’t work at all. Not to mention that Bush’s mug, that big bastardized “B” and everything else makes ol’ Cheney slip so far into the background that you don’t even notice it unless you work at it. Oh…wait…

Maybe GW et. al. figured a well designed logo doesn’t really matter anyways. Money better spent on… After all, voters decide how to cast their vote based on issues and platforms, not on soundbites, logos, viral ads and banner designs—right?

Posted by Eric at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microsoft IE Beta with Eolas fix

Shell FragmentsMonday Microsoft released a range of press and developer information regarding the patent situation with Eolas. To sum it all up—they are moving forward with changing IE to meet the Eolas ruling while they continue to try and get the decision overturned. They have been working with Macromedia, Apple and others to change the way ActiveX based plug-ins (which includes most of the IE plug-ins anyways) work. A beta version of IE6 with the ActiveX change has been posted for software and web developers to use for testing. Essentially it is an implementation of what they proposed in August—interrupting the smooth loading of a plug-in and the rendering of content with a dialog box for each and every instance of an ActiveX (or plug-in) control in a page. There will naturally be a user preference setting to block all notifications, which will also block any plug-in, rendering alternate content in it’s place. So that part will be like alternate image text or a lot like Firebird or Mozilla if you add the XBL binding Flash Click-To-View. They offer other options for developers to implement but they are either complex and not accessible, or simple but not standards based. Like that matters to Microsoft anyways.

The smart-a–- in me says (again) “finally no more pulsing scrolling flash banners, un-forseen multi-page ads being printed, and funky navigation menus; it’ll force all sites to use alternate content formats to ensure everyone can use the site.”

The reality, however, is this will severely impede user experience, and there are a number of sites that necessarily rely on Flash, Director, Quicktime, Real Player and PDF plug-ins to let their site work at all. This solution from Microsoft et. al. may be the best solution—short of Eolas donating the patent to the public domain now that they have made $520,000,000.00 from it—but for users of a lot of sites this will be a return to the days of multiple pop-up ads, only you have to let them keep coming and you have to click on them to continue. Someone will come out with a windows system tray application that will automatically look for the pop-up window and click the ok button. It’s a fairly trivial program, but you see, it violates several patents, and since the pop-up box (with it’s alert message) is copyrighted by Microsoft, this future Eolas pop-up killer (patent pending) could potentially be in violation of the DMCA too.

Update: See SideSh0w and Zeldman for more information on the fallout from this.

Posted by Eric at 05:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FTC Wins Appeal

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the order blocking the FTC from enforcing the Do-Not-Call List. The three judge panel concluded that “there is a substantial likelihood that the FTC will be able to show … that the list directly advances the government’s substantial interest and is narrowly tailored,”. The ruling allows the FTC to administer and enforce the list while the issue of constitutinality works it’s way throught the courts. The FCC has been enforcing the list since October 1st and has registered over 1,000 complaints of telemarketer calls to phone numbers on the registry. The complete decision is available from the 10th Ciruit in PDF format.

Posted by Eric at 03:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2003

Congratulations Niki & Brad

We wish we could have been there.

Posted by Eric at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Calm & Image Thoughts

Purple an Stone: Purple flowers against stone wallAfter that rant about Verisign… I needed a bit of fresh air and calm… Since someone threw the switch here and it is now definitely a very crisp cool fall, I decided to revisit a few images from early August. I have been slowly setting up a gallery to post images, mostly for myself and family. I chose Gallery at least for now, as it seems flexible and I can integrate the templates with whatever new design I give the Movable Type section of the site. Gallery has a lot of other nice features,e.g.
  • Supports multiple, nested albums
  • In XP supports the web publishing wizard
  • reads exif data from the file to provide technical specs
Overall, I am happy for now with gallery, there are things however that I would like that are missing, not precisely from Gallery, but more from my image work flow.

I primarily use Photoshop to work with JPG and TIFF images once converted from Canon’s raw format. Photoshop reads EXIF data and it also supports the IPTC
metadata format?accessible through ?File Info?. One new item for Photoshop 7 is support of an XML based metadata called XMP being championed by Adobe. If you save an image in any of the natively handled formats (Using Save or Save as) the file info is embedded in the actual file and ready to be read in the next time. Unfortunately Adobe’s JPEG saver is rather weak, ditto for PNG. The Save for Web option, which is far more powerful for optimizing images, doesn’t save the EXIF, IPTC or XMP data when you save the optimized file. I actually prefer Macromedia’s Fireworks for image optimization. Their routines result in better file sizes than Adobe’s best efforts, and their PNG actually works properly. Unfortunately neither version I have worked with seems to support EXIF and IPTC data, and unsurprisingly it doesn’t support XMP either. I haven’t had a chance to look at either companies latest offerings—Adobe’s CS series and Macromedia’s MX 2004 suite—and truth be told, I can’t justify the cost to upgrade right now anyways.

There are a few of programs out there that do support resizing and optimizing of files and supposedly do not strip the metadata away. ImageMagick, really a collection of related utilities, is one that began on the Linux platform but is available to Win32 and OSX as well. It looks like I will be experimenting with it, but I must admit image optimization is one area where I really would like a GUI interface to dial in the trade off between quality and size visually—ImageMagick is a CLI program. Actually I would be happy to be able to save a PSD, TIFF or JPG file with embedded metadata using Photoshop’s native savers then optimize the image in any other program. The other program will need to optimize well, and leave me the option to either leave all metadata directly in the file or use a separate tool to export it to XML and then re-merge the metadata with the optimized file. I don’t understand however why none of the non-native image savers that ship with Photoshop, including those from the companion application Image Ready, do not at least allow the option of maintaining metadata when saving to a compatible format.

Actually exporting all of the metadata to an XML format is an ideal option. If that were done then it would be almost trivial to set up an RSS feed of the latest additions to a photo-gallery. Frank Leahy (far more knowledgeable on programming and bringing tools together than I ever will be) recently pondered on similar issues. There are a few programs such as JHEAD and EasyEXIF which will export the EXIF data from an image as XML, but I couldn’t find a similar application for IPTC data, and I found next to no products, commercial or open source, that support XMP right now. I also couldn’t find any program that would allow export—import of both EXIF and IPTC to an XML file. 

Posted by Eric at 11:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 04, 2003

Verisign will comply-grudgingly

<warning style="rant: on">
Verisign VP Russell Lewis is so offended that ICANN acted “without so much as a hearing” and demands that they suspend the SiteFinder service. The company press release which reads like an Onion satire piece, is full of how Verisign protected innocent users from accidentally running into the end of the net, or taking a wrong turn and falling off the edge into the ether. Give me a break. They claim that they are innovating and driving the net forward—that they are adding jobs to the economy with their wild card service. <cough>Bullsh—t!<cough>

The only thing they are trying to innovate and create is more money in their own coffers and pockets. Not that I have anything against that, but they implemented a major change onto the DNS system that affected all unregistered domains in the two largest most actively used TLD’s without bothering to consult or even ask for technical opinions of ICANN (the governing body) and the other registrars. Then to complain about ICANNs actions while making such ridiculous claims of their altruistic goals. ICANN was extremely patient giving them thing long to voluntarily suspend the service.

If I worked at Verisign, I would be deeply ashamed.

“The basic principle which governs all of our officers, directors and employees (‘Insiders’) is that the Company’s business should be carried on with loyalty to the interest of our shareholders, customers, suppliers, fellow employees, strategic partners and other business associates… The Company is committed to a high standard of business conduct. This means conducting business in accordance with the spirit and letter of applicable laws and regulations and in accordance with ethical business practices.”

Riiiiiiiigggggght Would someone please send them to their room with no desert, and lets find a new TLD registrar authority for at least one of the TLDs that Verisign currently has authority for.
</warning>

Posted by Eric at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Telcos vs. RIAA

Hey RIAA, got a little advise for you. The Telco’s may not be what they once were, but—when the Telco’s tell you you’re abusing powers even post Patriot Act, you probably are. Do yourselves a favor back down a touch. Work with the P2P networks and Congress, but I wouldn’t force a showdown on how much power you have to pursue copyright infringers with the Telco’s. Especially not when the FBI and others have far less subpoena power to pursue violent criminals. Besides do you really want to keep the limelight on your adversarial nature, when Congress is right now introducing bills specifically aimed at curbing your aggressive nature.

The Party is over, control has slipped so far out of your grasp that even your hijacking of low cost web casting has no hope. Accept it, it’s done. Accept it gracefully and live to make another few gazillion in concert ticket sales, product—er…”artist” placements and product endorsements. Maybe you could start making money by developing diversified music holdings, and selling them at a fair price online and off. Imagine the money you could save by finally ending the payola—ooops I mean “rotation consulting” you do for the radio syndicates. Embrace the lower costs of distribution and accept that most people-even teenagers and college students, would willingly pay for decent priced music, as long as there isn’t draconian DRM that prevents them from transferring a file to their walkman / car / desktop. 

Besides how are you going to fight it now that MP3 jukeboxes that have record capability and Bluetooth / Wi-Fi networking are here, with even more coming. Remember Section 1008? The judge ruled in your favor that a PC was not a digital audio recorder, as it is a general purpose machine. Um…digital jukeboxes are nothing more than player/recorders, exactly like described in Section 1008. As long as it’s non-commercial U.S. Law says it’s legit.

Hey RIAA, you have nice day, okay?

Posted by Eric at 08:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2003

ICANN Issues Desist Order

ICANN today issued a formal letter to Verisign over the wildcard DNS issue. Basically Paul Twomey told Verisign Hey, we tried this the nice way but you refused to cooperate, now stop—or else. ICANN has given Verisign until 6pm PDT tomorrow to revert their DNS servers to the non-wildcard state of 14 September or ICANN will be forced to enforce the terms of the contract between it and Verisign governing the administration of the .com and .net TLDs.

Paul makes some concessions to Verisign’s claims that the process for evaluating and getting approval for new domain registrar services is inefficient, and promises to work with Verisign and others to improve that process. He also allows that if a proper technical evaluation of wildcard DNS finds that it can be implemented, with or without modifications, without adverse effects, then ICANN would modify the .com and .net contracts with Verisign to allow those changes. In all Paul presents a perfectly reasonable letter overall friendly, but emphatic in one regard—cease the wildcard implementation now. It is in violation of current contracts, and ICANN will enforce those contracts if necessary.

Posted by Eric at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ping-Pong Matrix Redux

A few weeks agao I commented on the Ping-Pong Matrix video that has been circulating. I asked if anyone knew of a larger version than the one I had found. Luckily someone (JT) sent me a link via email to a200×150pixel WMV version that holds up well to being viewed at 200%. This is obviously a segment from a Japanese gameshow. Click on the 6th button down on the left side to get to the movies page So here ya go: straight form Nippon TV (WMV format video) 

Of course this is another plug-in item for Explorer prohibited under the Eolas Patent without a license.

Posted by Eric at 12:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2003

Moustache Curler and Cup

Don’t ask me why, but I found this site (I think via Reenhead)–The Handlebar Club. It’s a club dedicated to moustaches, especially of the handlebar variety–“The qualification for membership is: ‘a hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities’ and, in addition, we specify that beards are not allowed.” They have a gallery, events page and an FAQ. Did you know that they have moustache cups? Or moustache curlers? My favorite member is the German photographer, J?Burkhardt—on seeing his photo I knew I had seen him before, outside of his moustache fame. He has covered the TDF as a sports photographer a number of times. Sure enough looking back through an old tape of the Tour, there he was at the finish line, distinctive moustache handlebars behind a giant white Canon telephoto lens (600mm? I would just about kill for that to shoot birds around here!). On his photography site he has a few of the images from various tours.

No, I’m not planning on growing a handlebar moustache…just stumbling across some of the different things out there, and passing it along.

Posted by Eric at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Note->Self: Don't Mention Baseball Today

  • Don’t mention the game or baseball to the guy behind the counter at the post office–and if he growls when you mail off the amazon order, ignore it.
  • Under no circumstances mention baseball, the color red or socks with client today—this may be impossible as client runs a yarn store with tons of sock patterns and kits. In best imitation of Pooh—Think, Think, Think
  • if someone has tired glazed look, assume they are a fan and watched the game last night, assume they will be very grumpy, play it safe, do not mention ball.
  • Don’t even think about sending squidd a conciliatory email.

This town loves baseball and, save a handfull of “troublemakers”, they seem to all be Boston Red Sox fans. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans everywhere…they lost last night. Of course it was a 4 and a half hour game (!) that didn’t end until the wee hours of the morning on the east coast. Of course most of the town isn’t that rabid about it, but in general it is best to play it safe and not bring up the subject, unless of course you like 30 minute tirades about missed calls and flubbed plays.

The Cubs (and especially Woods) had an excellent opening game against the Braves, especially as it was their first post-season road game win since 1945.  Funny, in my email this morning I saw inning by inning accounts of the Cubs progress of the first game (yeah, I hadn’t checked email all week). By the end of the 7th inning there were promises of abstention–ranging from till the end of the game to till the end of the year–from alchohol, swearing, computers and sex. Of course, many of these were probably made while remembering the oft’ repeated “Jazz Love Rocket incident” of the 1997 basketball playoffs season. Remember sports fans–drinking and email don’t mix. Last night however, Atlanta evened up the series with the Cubs. Oddly enough no Cubs fan email came during or after last nights 7th inning stretch. Hopefully Friday night will be a great game for fans in Chicago. As for Boston, well, from a purely selfish point of view I hope they do much better the next few days—although, on consideration, maybe it’s better to just have it over with…

Posted by Eric at 07:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CERT Advisory CA-2003-26

A new CERT® advisory was issue yesterday CA-2003-26.

This advisory is for multiple vulnerabilities in for SSL / TLS protocol implementations. Primarily occuring in ASN.1 parsing code. Possible impact ranges from DOS to allowing attacker to execute arbitrary code.
Systems Affected:

  • OpenSSL versions prior to 0.9.7c and 0.9.6k
  • Multiple SSL/TLS implementations
  • SSLeay library

Be sure to visit the advisory for specific vendor solutions.

Posted by Eric at 05:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003

Schwatzt Du Letzeburgesch?

What do you know, the 26th of September was the European Day of Languages.

The BBC however put together a real nice site with an overview of the 35 major languages of Europe. The entry for each language includes the language family tree, the number of speakers, where it is spoken, the alphabet used with any additions, information on it’s oldest known written form and often another historical note. There are also a few key phrases for each language. So..

Schwätzt Du Lëtzeburgesch?

Oh, and no I don’t speak Luxembourgish. It was spoken (some) in an area I lived in Germany (Bitburg) as a youth. It was also spoken on the farm in Luxemburg where I stayed when I had chicken pox…but that’s a whole different story.

Via Languagehat

Posted by Eric at 06:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Can You Raed Tihs? - Snopes

The “Can You Raed Tihs?” meme has been listed in Snopes —the Urban Legend web site.

Local related articles:
Can You Raed Tihs? Microsoft Link
Try Asking a Typographer
Offsite references:
“RDIAENG.” at Languagehat
Matt Davis of Cambridge
Slashdot discussion Pt. 1
Slashdot Discussion Pt. 2
Metafilter - Scrambled Text
Posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack