July 30, 2003

Amazingly Bad Idea From the Pentagon, Now In The Trash

Swiftly, Plan for Terrorism Futures Market Slips Into Dustbin

Well, the terrorist attack futures market posted yesterday is now scrapped. But an intersting tidbit: this idea came from DARPA, original funder of the Internet, but also originator of Total Information Awareness. Both TIA and the terrorist attack market were ideas given up by...
John Poindexter, Navy Admiral and Iran-Contra scandal participator.

Yeah, it's getting weird out there.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2003

Amazingly Bad Idea From the Pentagon

CNN.com - Pentagon defends 'terror market' - Jul. 29, 2003

Ohhkay. This, I wouldn't have believed without CNN and 2 senators asking about it -- and won't be surprised if it turns out to be false. The Pentagon is setting up, and has spent $600,000 on, a "public, stock-market style exchange where traders can profit by correctly predicting terror attacks or assassinations in the Middle East."

Aside from the fact it's repugnant to me to have a stock market in when people will be killed, I think there's a basic flaw in the plan: the people who buy into this system can also blow people up as well. Can you say, "paying the terrorists to kill people"?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2003

MythTV -- Linux-based Open Source PVR Software

PVR Hardware Database for MythTV

OK, if you've got Tivo, and like hacking, this is for you... me, I'm without TV/Cable/Sattelite TV -- which sucks, because I really want to build one of these things. (Sadly, my parents have a Tivo already, so that one's out. )

The cool part about this is that it can expand as you have time/parts/etc. Think about a Tivo that you could add in a hard drive 6 months after you got it. Then 3 months later a DVD-R.

Personally, I think it's about the coolest thing going on in TV today, including the programs. OK, maybe not The West Wing, or CSI, but that's about it.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

Towns forgoing federal funds, so they don't have to implement filters

Metro libraries weigh fed cash or Web filters, via Ars Technica

Hey, my old home-town Plymouth, MI and it's twin neighbor city Canton are showing their chutzpah! The Plymouth library and the Canton library system have decided to forego any federal funds just so they don't have to use filters. Go Plymouth & Canton!

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2003

31% of under-30 Germans believe US could have caused 9/11

CNN.com - German disbelief over 9/11 - Jul. 24, 2003

Interesting article in the NY Times on poll in Die Welt.

Asked whether they believed the U.S. government could have ordered the September 11 attacks, 31 percent of those surveyed under the age of 30 answered "yes,'' while 19 percent overall gave the same answer.

I would really, really like to believe that the government is capable of doing this. Even I'm not that bitter and callous, and I practice bitterness and callousness every day. But if the same thing had happened to another country, and with the same actions afterwards, wouldn't we say the same thing about the other government?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Voting machines are hackable

Computer Voting Is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say

Well, like I said when I did a UI review of the systems, I wasn't getting into the security of the system. Someone else did it instead, with actual information instead of any anecdotal info I have.

Truth be told, I'm not really surprised that it's hackable. How hackable, that's a bit of a shock -- the thing really reaks, using Access as a database and NO paper trail at all.

But the big thing for me is this: if it's so hackable, do election results from such a system become questionable? Questionable enough to challenge election results in court? If so, what happens when not just some, but the *entire* election becomes questionable?

It's an interesting dilemna.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2003

Never say your town has the worst drivers...

CNN.com - Police: Driver causes pileup to keep sofa dry - Jul. 21, 2003

This woman in Atlanta pulled across several lanes to keep her sofa dry, causing a 24 car pileup. The sad part is, I'm not surprised it happened; after the time the plane landed on one of the highways, little about Atlanta traffic shocks me. Atlanta by far has the worst drivers I've ever seen.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 19, 2003

Plane Label

Politech: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing a button

John Gilmore, not exactly the *least* quiet person in the world (more power to him), was ejected from a plane for wearing a button labeled "Suspected Terrorist". The article says it best, but here's the part I liked best:

Annie [his "sweetheart"] later told me that the stewardess who had gone to fetch her said that she thought the button was something that the security people had made me wear to warn the flight crew that I was a suspected terrorist(!). Now that would be really secure.

Because it makes plenty of sense to stick a label on someone, then PUT HIM ON THE PLANE.

I swear we need an IQ stick to beat people with.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2003

Oops... just one more from around the corner...

Careful: The FB-Eye May Be Watching via Metafilter and Tom Tomorrow

Saw this one later today... and was disgusted. This guy lives in my area, the coffee house is 4-5 miles from me. Took an article into a Caribou Coffee, got someone spying on him, jerk calls FBI-for-chrissakes. Guy gets visit from the FBI. FBI says that we should all understand.

I don't understand, and I cannot understand. This is my home. Says so here right on my driver's liscense. I'm allowed to read anything I want -- even if you don't like it.

This weekend, I'm heading for Caribou.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

And Now For the Final Insult

House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee (washingtonpost.com) via Metafilter

And for more fun, it seems that the Ways and Means committee is just doing a *wonderful* job of being bi-partisan... as long as you define bi-partisan as "Good bye, other party".

The Republicans decided to bring up a vote on a bill addendum sent out less than 24 hours before. The Democrats tried for a stalling tactic, the Republicans decided that they didn't like the tactic and ignored Roberts Rules of Order -- blatantly -- and passed the bill.

There are no words I can use to describe these gentlemen without scalding the wires you're reading this over. Flat out, this is *wrong*. If you set the rules, you should play by them *even if you don't like them*. Ignoring certian parties because you don't like what they have to say is rude, arrogant, and subverts the democratic process.

Republicans on the House Ways And Means Committee -- be *ashamed*.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Now To Local Voting Problems

I, Cringely | Voter Flawed

Well, also more fun from the Georgia front, where the that we use may be vunerable to fraud, and some very, very pointed questions about the system is being asked. I especially like the fact that it's using MS Access -- kind of like posting it on the wall, written in pencil.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

More Political Fun from the White House

To e-mail Bush, follow instructions to the letter

Basically, the White House has made it harder to get an e-mail to the president; it's a new, form-based, choose-the-topic-from-the-list format.

Jimmy Orr, a White House spokesman, described the system as an "enhancement" aimed at improving communications.

...Some Internet usability experts think the new method for sending messages is not doing much to enhance communications between the White House and the public.

"Overall it's a very cumbersome process," said Jakob Nielsen, an authority on Web design who helps run a consulting group, Nielsen Norman Group, in Fremont, Calif. "It's probably designed deliberately to cut down on their e-mail."
The various categories for describing a message's subject is also a big muddle, he said.
"One of the categories is National ID Card," he said. "Does it mean you're in favor of National ID or in favor of the president's position, which it doesn't describe?"
He said he particularly disliked being forced to specify whether he was offering a "supporting comment" or a "differing opinion" to Bush.

"Can't I just say something or ask a question?" he said.

Matzzie was also upset that none of the many categories listed included either "unemployment" or "jobs."

"This is the most ridiculous Web form for contacting someone I have ever seen," said Matzzie, who is a professional Web site designer and an online organizer for the labor organization.

Really, if you're going to be this blantant about ignoring the public, Mr. President, don't insult our intelligence by saying it's to communicate with us better.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2003

Othewise known as "It was a dark and stormy night" contest

Bulwer-Lytton Contest 2003 Results

Most of you will recognize this as the contest to create the worst opening sentence, otherwise known as "The "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" Contest". This year's winning one was pretty awful -- but the runners up are just as good.

Winner: Purple Prose

Raul strode through the dark night, his way lit by twinkling stars as if the gods at some celestial concert were all flicking their lighters at the same time in appreciation of the drum solo-like beat of his boot heels against the pavement, occasionally accompanied by the steel-brush-on-a-cymbal sound of a splash as he kicked through a puddle, the plip-plop of water dripping from leaves like someone playing staccato on a two-note piano gone flat, and the wind blowing a bluesy tissue-paper-on-comb harmonica through the trees.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

A Truly Independent Film...

RUSTBOY, via Boing Boing

Independent animated film done by a single guy -- looks like a neat project.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2003

How to get rid of the freeloader known as "alma mater"


This one blew my mind; mostly because it reminds me of exactly when I finally blew my top at my college...

My college sent me e-mail without me ever giving them the address. I'd moved literally 3 states away, had switched ISPs 3 times, and had moved at least 4 times since graduation -- and yet, they're not only mailing me at an address I'd never given them, (a relatively minor nuisance) but now they're hitting me up through e-mail.

I wrote them back and told them I'd start putting them on black-hole lists and complaining to the FCC if they didn't stop this crap right now.

Mind you, this is Washington University in St. Louis, home of the well-loved and well-used wuarchive. An RBL listing would have been very, very bad.

The alumni house probably wasn't as saavy at internet stuff as I was -- but they knew that this would be bad. I'll give them credit -- after that I didn't get the alumni magazine for a couple of years.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2003

Cringely on wiretapping

I, Cringely | The Pulpit

Interesting article about wiretapping. CALEA (the law that forces phone companies to implement wiretap software -- usually insecurely) and TIA. Read up, it's your privacy at stake.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking at O'Reilly Mac OS X Convention 2003

Just to tell everyone, once again I'm going to be appearing at the O'reilly Mac OS X Conference as a speaker. Be afraid.

My topic is Apple's new beta interface for GUI scripting using Applescript. Cripes, talk about being a neat technology -- set up a script to do fix some GUI work, and then use cron to run it.... I'm thinking it's a sweet combination.

Andy Ihnatko, one of the cooler people in the Mac Circuit, is going to show up. Sadly Cory Doctorow, who showed up last year and did a neat presentation on what power users use on their desktops, doesn't seem to be appearing. But a fun time looks to be had by all.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)

More radio drama fun!

BBC - BBC 7 - 7th Dimension

Interesting radio drama information as well: BBC has 7th Dimension, which gives us Sci-Fi radio drama geeks (all 3 of us) someplace to get our fix daily. Granted, it's only 1/2 an hour per weekday, and 1 hour on Saturday and Sunday. But that's better than anything else I know.


Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

Recommended reading

Sarah Vowell

I picked up Take the Cannoli and The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell after hearing her on This American Life, and am quite enamored of her writing; not only does she appeal to my inner curmudgeon, she's also a fellow geek, and articulate about it. Check 'em out.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Let the finger pointing begin....

CNN.com - Rice: CIA signed off on Iraq uranium claim - Jul. 11, 2003

Watch as the fingers start pointing! See as the accusations fly! Yes, it's politics in America -- devolving to the level of kindergardeners.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003

NPR on National Do Not Call List

On today's Morning Edition, there was an article on how the NDNC list will affect telemarketing companies. Natch, the suits for telemarketing companies complained that this new list would adversely affect them; thousands of people could lose their jobs. To top it off, there was a commentary from a former telemarketer put in her two cents about "rude people" who she would call.

Sorry, kids, I ain't buying it.

This is where I draw the line between left-wing sensitivity and calous, cold self-centeredness. I'm all for people having jobs, and I'm a huge fan of being polite to people. But as far as I'm concerned, let the companies fall, let the people get fired, and let that misguided former telemarketer stick it in her ear.

I've had to suffer from time to time with telemarketing outbreaks. Not just once a week, but two or three a night. I ask to get off of lists, and quite a few telemarketers say they've never heard of it, or I have to call their main office (both are illegal -- telemarketers have to have a list, and must take your name off if you request.) I ask them not to call back and they do. I even find automatic announcements on my home machine -- a BIG illegal no-no.

I pay for my phone. I go to work, so I can have a phone, which allows people to communicate to me. If someone makes a mistake, or calls me by accident, no huge deal. They're appropriately sorry.

But telemarketers -- the physical callers -- use my phone and my time to make money. The companies are worse, they employ people to be rude. Neither group is ashamed of interrupting me, asking me for my time. Both use the unholy excuse of "It's just my job", as if this were a reason to be rude.

If telemarketing goes under, I'm certian we will be a nicer place to live. I've got no regrets, period.

Sign up for the National Do Not Call list today.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2003

Happy Fourth of July, America

I was pondering patrotism today on a drive home. I saw someone else with a flag on their car -- those ridiculous magnetic flags that every car these days seems to carry on their back bumper -- and was once again incensed.

For a few seconds, I was mad and thought some very anti-American thoughts. And then I realized suddenly, that I don't *hate* America, and started to ask myself why I'd suddenly started thinking that way.

Part of it is, I'm a natural rebel. Let's face it, I'm the kind of guy who's suspect of anything labeled "common sense", "traditional", or "the smart thing". So patriotism, especially patrotism from knee-jerk super-patriots who believe that people such as myself don't deserve to live (kiss kiss to you, Ann Coulter), hits me in a sore spot.

And dammit, it shouldn't.

I'm not against the country. I like fireworks. I like the 4th. I like speaking my mind, being able to write, I don't mind capitalism all that much. (I hate corporations, but that's a whole 'nother story). My country, for all it's faults, is pretty OK.

It's just that a bunch of jerks -- greedy, self-centered, corrupt jerks -- now own the country. And for a long time, that flag I brooded over today is a symbol of the country that these jerks have owned for most of my life, and still own today.

I'm a liberal. I'm also an American; I own the flag too. I want to get this country going in a direction that's right for all -- and am willing to help it go that direction if I can. That makes me a patriot.

Can you be a liberal and a patriot as well? Yes. As a matter of fact, liberals are much more patriotic than those hyper-conservative super-patriots. Liberalism is about insisting the voices of those who are not often heard, be heard (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, the poor, the homeless, etc). We're about enforcing our liberties (ACLU). We're about protecting those natural resources which are not replaceable (environmentalism). We're about making the laws fair for all, and apply equally to all.

We liberals need to go out, and reinvent patriotism. We need to understand that patriotism is not about being a conservative. It's about creating a country that is by *all* the people, for *all* the people, and made up of *all* the people -- not by a few, for a few, made up of a few. Liberals need to re-take the flag and say that this is our country as well; and that we should not have to live as if this country were someone else's to own, and that we live here at their sufferage.

Happy 4th, America. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you can become great again.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2003

Healthy Choices

I'm at my desk today, and I happen to glance into my garbage can.

"Hey, who put the Healthy Choice(TM, copyright, whatever) in my garbage?"

"It's mine," says a co-worker.

"He's trying to frame you," another opines.

"Me? I'm an UnHealthy choice man. Hamburger cooked in lard and fried."


"Besides, it's better than McDonalds..."

"Really." I pluck the food box out of my garbage and proceed to read. "Noodles baked with stuff, riboflavin, mono and diglycerides, chicken *with chicken flavoring*, mesquite flavoring *and* grill flavoring. What the hell is grill flavoring?"

"Hey," says the non-Healthy-Choice-eating co-worker, "Micky-D's Chicken McNuggets aren't even made from chicken."

"Really?" News to me.

"They are now..." mentions a third co-worker. "There was a lawsuit. They announced it, like, two months back."

We look it up on (get this) McDonald's own web site -- using a domain name stolen in the courts in the early 90s from a guy named "McDonald" -- and find out that in fact, Chicken McNuggets are now chicken. But their sauces... let's just say, the only one that seemed edible was the honey, which was 100% Grade A honey.

Yeah, I skipped lunch today.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)