December 26, 2003

Beware The Rarest of Creatures...


Only the finest of exports comes from this company....

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

New Tom Tomorrow Is Interesting....

The latest strip (sorry, Salon link, pay the toll and get to it) from Tom Tomorrow has a very interesting point -- dissention is increasingly being shown as "unpatriotic".

I have often had to bite my tounge, suppress my statements, and be less than forthcoming about my opinions around my city (Atlanta), simply because I am in a vast minority of people here. My opinion about the war is similar to that of said "liberal" in the comic strip -- sure, I'm glad Saddam was caught. Killers are no friends of mine, and I have no sympathy for him, personally. But my reasons for opposing the war had little to do with Saddam, it had more to do with who was going after him (Bush), why he was so gung-ho about it (reasons abound, but few ring true), and what he did in order to go after him (too long to list, quite a few immoral, some might be illegal).

Hence, I'm quietly approving of the capture -- but I can say for certian I'm also still not in the least convinced that this war is a good, right, or proper thing.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Couple Of Super-Uber Geeky Things...

Mobitopia - Friday, December 12, 2003

First up is creating a wi-fi hotspot in your back pocket with a iPaq and a Bluetooth cell phone. How cool can it be when you can be a hotspot wherever you go?

Next up is a combination Wi-fi, GPRS and bluetooth card. Given a choice between this and a iPod, I'd probably take this... although I'd be sitting around for a while looking at both longingly.

Finally, I'm looking at getting a Merlin G100 GPRS PCMCIA modem, along with a nice little unlimited data plan for $30/month from T-Mobile, which should allow me to do my surfing wherever I am; Atlanta, unfortunately, isn't exactly as wired as San Francisco, New York, or anywhere else. Compactness is a virtue in those cities.

Note that all of these are links from the very interesting and compelling Mobilewhack, a new and really good website on mobile technologies. I'm really hip to it.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

"We are All Paris Hilton?" No, We Are Not. - Value Driven - Admit It: You, Too, Are Paris Hilton

This article's premise is that we are all coddled, and that if you compared what we have today with what someone had 40 years ago, then we'd look just as silly as Paris Hilton and the rest of the rich. I disagree.

The primary problem with this premise is this: Paris isn't living 40 years from now. She's living now, she lives in a life of luxury, and she's as inable to live in reality as a human being can be. She's spoiled, beyond that of which it's possible for me to believe.

But his statistics for the poor get me. Here's the quote:

No, I'm not overlooking the poor, especially at this time of year. They are indeed always with us, but not the way they used to be. Some 21% of U.S. families were poor in 1960, while in 2001, the latest year for which figures are available, just 10% were. And those official statistics exclude the value of noncash government benefits like food stamps and Medicaid, which didn't exist in 1960. That's why some economists estimate that today's real poverty rate is much less than officially reported, maybe only half.

I'm gathering his idea of "poor" is earning below the poverty line -- which is not just "poor" but very, very poor.

From the "">Census Bureau, the level of poverty for a 4 person household with 2 children is $18,244. If both parents work, that's $4.50/hour each parent. And it's not exactly high pay.

For those of us without kids, the figure drops by 1/2 -- to $9,359. That's $4.68 an hour for a full time job.

Both of these, by the way, are less than the minimum wage -- hence, if you have a full time minimum wage job, you're not poor. And those benefits stated above? They cut off at the poverty level.

The poor is less than 10 percent, my ass.

(Just for kicks... Poverty level for 1960 was $1,982 for a 2 child household. In 1980, it was $8,633. In 1990, it was $13,254. )

The point being: reality is something the poor can ill afford to forget. And while the definition of poor seems to be something this joker can fiddle with, the reality is the jokers who are 21 and richer that small countries seem to be as clueless as a newborn. That's what we're laughing at -- people without any ability to rationally judge and weigh decisions.

The "poor" -- really, the average person -- rushes for $29 DVDs, because they know it's the only price they can afford one. (Not to mention, that woman who was injured has since been found to be a serial litigant, so I'd think twice about using that anacedote). Also note, movies aren't getting released on VHS as much, so in order to see movies cheaply they have to have one.

The poor know they're "obese" -- that's because many can't afford healthy foods. Healthy foods, like salad and such require a) time to cook, b) equipment to cook/store them with, and c) most often money to purchase them with. Salads are not expensive, per se; but tomatos, carrots, and such add up when you also have to buy meats. Canned and frozen foods keep better than fresh, and don't take as long to cook. Eating healthy does cost, in time and energy as well as money.

And instead of help, the poor get assholes like me and this joker talking about them from our on-high views.

Gefforey Colvin, bite me. I'm not Paris Hilton, and neither are most people we know. We may have cool new technologies, but a DVD player doesn't make me think Wal-mart sells walls.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 06:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Technology Which Isn't Learning From Wi-Fi - Radio-fueled credit cards could end swipe - Dec. 13, 2003

OK, RDIF credit cards are a BAD idea. Even with encryption. Let me explain.

First, let's just look at the problems we have with security in the first place with the radio-based technologies that we have: Wi-Fi and cell phones. Basically, you have three major security problems.

The first major security issue is this: you're broadcasting your information. Radio is a broadcast; this means you can, given enough ability to recieve weak signals, pick up said radio signal at long distances. Note that you can pick up Wi-Fi signals at mile distances with the right equipment -- and you can pick up cell phones with modified scanners or old TVs (cell phones use the spectrum that used to be high UHF channels.) Don't expect that these things, despite being low-powered, will not be picked up by someone inside of the store. Or by someone while you're passing by. Or by anyone with the technology.

The second security issue harkens back to one of the first issues with cell phone security. Cell phone companies had taken the time to put in some simple security on some of their cell phones. I forget the details on it -- it's been a few years -- but the companies had put in the capability to have high security... and then put in security codes that set most of the digits to zero.

Mastercard is using 128-bit security... which can be secure. But if you have a known value -- like your credit card number -- you can possibly crack the code. It cuts down the security. Also, if the 128 bit security is the same for every card, then it's basically a joke. American Express, though, isn't saying how they're doing their security. I can understand American Express not wanting to broadcast how they secure their cards. But when they don't, and are broadcasting your credit card number, that's not responsible either; a two-bit password isn't a secure transaction. A 512 bit passcode, used properly, is. But we won't know unless they say how it's being secured.

The final security issue is the same as you have with Diebold computers: they want to skip the paper trail with this, and that ain't right. Without a paper trail, I have to take the company's word on this that I have not had my credit card stolen or false charges placed on them -- and who hasn't had a mistaken charge on it that didn't show up when they balanced their card? It's not uncommon for a mistake to happen. It's insane to trust the company that you owe money to, to bring up false charges.

These are just 3 off the top of my head -- and I'm sure there's more. It's a bad idea. Watch out.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

New Blog: Abusable Technologies Awareness Center

ATAC: Abusable Technologies Awareness Center

It's always a good sign when a weblog, on first reading, gives you a good jaw-dropping fact. I got this blog off of Boingboing, and by golly it's pretty neat: it mentioned e-voting right off the bat, and referred to an article stating that the source code was leaked online, something I hadn't heard.

Good start. I'm looking forward to good stuff on this site.

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

December 10, 2003

More Depressing News

Editor deemed 'national threat' - via Boingboing

Really, after days of reading stuff like this, I want to post a kid's picture holding a stuffed panda or something, just to offset the bad stuff. But here we go again -- now someone's being denied entry *because* they're a foreign journalist.

Now, from this version of the story, it says that she had no visa. OK, you want to deny entry because of a bad visa, sure.

But a) this woman was a working journalist, and was proveably so; b) this woman had been here before, a number of times; c) she was held for 15 hours before being allowed access to her consul, not a long time, but not exactly friendly-like to someone who's from a "friendly" country.

But being told what she's being held for is not just polite, it's a basic tenant of democracy. Habeus corpus is so engrained in our society, it's hard to imagine people being detained without it. One of the primary tenants of habeus corpus is detailing what crime the accused stands charged with -- and that includes while the person is being detained.

Terrorists may have bombed us, but we're tearing our own society apart for them.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

Company Fighting To Allow Messenger Popups Technology | 2 students to fight FTC pop-up ad policy

And the award winner for the least intelligent defense in a trial this year... has got to go to these kids.

The FTC last month accused D-Squared of unlawfully exploiting ``Messenger'' network technology built into most new versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system to display the unwanted advertisements. Unlike Web-based pop-up ads, such messages can appear even when a computer user isn't surfing the Web.

The D-Squared messages advertised the company's software that can block such ads.

The company contends that it wasn't illegal to transmit its ads, that the ads weren't damaging and that its software genuinely blocks such ads.

Umm... this is as bad as spam advertising anti-spam software.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush Opposing Democracy for Taiwan - Bush says he opposes Taiwanese independence - Dec. 9, 2003

This is just... odd. Why on earth would someone who's stated he wants to bring democracy to Iraq, opposed to a group who want to bring democracy to themselves. Most telling may be the following quote:

U.S.-China trade has come a long way since 25 years ago, Wen said. The combined total was a mere $2.5 billion a year, compared with the current figure of more than $100 billion, he said.

Ah! Now it makes sense. It's about money. Boy, you'd think he'd be a little less blantant about it.

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

December 05, 2003

Neat Technical Page On A Giga-pixel Image

Gigapixel Images

Neat Page on a giga-pixel image of a canon. 2 gigs to save the whole image, 196 stitched images. It's really pretty neat to get into the details. Check it out.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Joe Sacco Interview Books | Safe area America (sorry, subscribe or go through the ads)

Salon does an interview with Sacco which is fascinating. Joe Sacco does some of the most amazing comics on foreign areas, ones that for the most part I can't imagine how he does them. Safe Area Gorazde is one of the most amazing comics I've read in years -- and it's about the war in Chechnya, about the people who live in one town. It's not a fictional account, per se -- this is reporting, but from a very personal level. He talks with ordinary people and asks them about their lives, has them talk about the war and how it's affected them.

You can buy Gorazde from Fantagraphics and see what it's like. He's got a new book out, The Fixer, which you can order from Amazon, also on Chechnya. He's got other books out as well, including his original Palestine, on the West Bank settlement.

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

December 01, 2003