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December 6, 2007

it's only a matter of which office petraeus is running for

Sometimes it seems like they aren't even really trying anymore.  From this morning's Yahoo! Box of Headlines:
• Gen. Petraeus says violence in Iraq has declined 60 percent

Also, hope is up 37 percent, and "bad things" are on the downtick at 3.7 percent for the quarter.

We're supposed to get transfixed and distracted by a mathematical symbol?  Petraeus picks a number between one and a hundred and we're supposed to stop worrying and love the war?

Can't they at least throw in an underwear model, or at least a cute puppy?

Posted by mrbrent at 7:19 AM

December 5, 2007

i'm being followed by a big facebook

As a recent user of the Facebook friendship heirachizing robot, I feel it's only fair to share this handful of legitimized paranoia with you:
"Facebook is retrieving enough information that they can tie what you do on external sites back to your Facebook profile," says Stefan Berteau, a research engineer with CA. "[The company] says it's deleting the data it gathers after you've logged out, but that is not clearly spelled out in its privacy policy, and there isn't a binding public commitment."

While this verifies the fears of those that spurn the online shopping -- if I put my info in that little online checkout form, then a cyborg clone of me will kill me and take my place -- the data farming is also pretty standard practice of some of the less-reviled online presences out there (hi there, Google!).  It's why there are things like cookies, and things like caches.

Before the night sweats creep in, the article also includes the Facebook silver bullet:

If a user clicks on the "Remember Me" box when logging in to Facebook, the cookies that are stored locally on his computer will also store data about his activities on [datafarming partner] sites.

So don't be clicking on the "remember me" box, no matter how many seconds that might save you each day.

And I'm sure there's some more elegant hack out there, that would somehow paint a tunnel on a wall, so that Facebook would run right into it.  At such time as I am technically proficient enough to understand this hack, I will share it with you.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:52 PM

note to self: more copyfighting

I don't hammer away at it as much as I should, but one of the distinct interests of this little venture is the ongoing development of intellectual property, its regulation and lack thereof.  It does not sound so swank when phrased like that, no -- but imagine a Mickey Mouse in the public domain!  Conversely, imagine having to pay someone an actual dollar every time you refer to Batman in print!

It's all wonky, yes, but -- were it not for the hell-bentedness of our dumb-ass American government, plus also the slow death of our biosphere -- it's at the top of my list, and it's gonna be a widening conflict as years go by, and as our resources become more notional than buried in the ground.

So in the interest of keeping this issue in your public eye, an example from Boing Boing of an early effort to strangle the access to information:

In 1923, radio was introduced to Australia, complete with a scheme for "analog rights management" that presaged the dumbest anti-copying/anti-use schemes of the modern day.  In the early years of Aussie radio, the radios were sold permanently tuned to a single frequency, sealed shut to prevent their owners from changing the channel.  Each broadcaster had its own model of radio that it sold to the public, one that could only receive its programmes, and this was how the stations made money.  The system lasted less than two years and was a complete failure.

It could be argued that this is not an example of a malicious precursor to DRM as it is the nascent broadcast industry bumping around in the dark, but, as it is an overt defunctionalizing of available technology for commercial gain, the example stands.

Also, for you proud Canadians reading this, it is about to come to pass that your Prime Minister won't be the only thing that sucks as bad as its American counterpart.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:25 AM

December 4, 2007

how santa nearly destroyed civilization

It could be my imagination, but I'm pretty sure that some iteration of this story has run once a year, every year, since I can remember.  As if the smart little children didn't have enough of a reason not to believe in Santa Claus.  (That's right, kids: your parents are lying.  Parent always lie.)

This will be followed, naturally, by the TV weatherman on Christmas Eve showing a bogey on the weather radar, heading in from the North Pole.  This one is fun for the kids, but has caused more than a couple DEFCON 1s during those Cold War years.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:47 AM