Home » Daynotes Home » Week of 20 March 2006

Photograph of Robert Bruce Thompson
Daynotes Journal

Week of 20 March 2006

Latest Update: Thursday, 23 March 2006 08:36 -0500
Free Speech Online - Blue Ribbon Campaign

Paying for this Place
Visit Barbara's Journal Page

Monday, 20 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

08:36 - The CRIA is the Canadian equivalent of the US RIAA. This article summarizes the findings of the CRIA with regard to the effect of P2P music downloads on music sales. No surprises there. The study concludes that P2P downloads don't harm music sales, which I and many others have been saying all along. Still, it's nice to have this confirmed by an organization that one would expect to parrot the RIAA party line.

Once again, a convicted child rapist has been released and gone on to rape again. This slimeball was convicted in 1991 of raping a 12 year old girl, but was released after only nine years in prison. Now--if the news reports are true, and I see no reason to believe they aren't--he's abducted two 17 year old girls, imprisoned them in an underground dungeon, and raped them.

The judge who released him after the first rape says he had no choice. State law required that he be released unless the prosecutors could establish that it was likely he would rape again. It seems to me that South Carolina needs to change its law to put the burden on the rapist, who should have to prove that there is no chance he could ever harm another person. Better yet, they should have hanged the SOB in the first place.

Actually, I'm surprised the guy survived nine years in prison. Other prisoners have daughters, too, and they don't like slimeballs who rape 12 year old girls any more than the rest of us do.

As anyone who is conversant with the phenomenon will tell you, violent sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated, period. Their recidivism rate is 100.000%. If you release one, he'll rape, torture, or kill again. If you point to one and tell me he's reformed, I'll tell you he simply hasn't been caught again or hasn't yet had the opportunity. But one thing is as sure as tomorrow's sunrise. If you let him walk around loose, he's going to do it again.


Tuesday, 21 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

08:36 - I suppose I'm going to have to get used to using Firefox. I much prefer the browser in the original Mozilla "Seamonkey" suite. I thought it was a big mistake when the Mozilla Foundation announced that it was deprecating the full suite in favor of Firefox and Thunderbird, both of which are steps backward in functionality relative to the applications they replace. (Yes, I know about the Seamonkey project, but it's not a mainstream effort.)

When I built the most recent den system, I installed Xandros Open Circulation Edition on it, mainly because OCE is already fully updated with the patches that require SP2 for other Xandros 3 versions. I'd been burned several times installing SP2, so I decided to take the easy way out and just install OCE. The problem with that is that OCE bundled Firefox and Thunderbird rather than the Mozilla Suite. I decided I could live with that.

What I can't live with is that the Firefox bundled with Xandros is unusable, and I say that advisedly. When I finished installing Xandros OCE, I did what I always do first. I installed Adblock, or I should say I attempted to install Adblock. As it turns out, something that Xandros did to customize Firefox for their OS breaks compatibility with Adblock. When I clicked on the "Install" link, an installation dialog popped up. I told it to install, and it just went away.

To make a long story short, I ended up uninstalling the Firefox supplied with Xandros, downloading the current Firefox, and installing it. It looks a bit different than the bundled version, not as pretty, but I can live with that. The important thing is that Adblock installs perfectly with the stock Firefox. I displayed the latest Filterset.G blocking list, right-clicked on it, told Firefox to autoimport the list, and was off to the races.

Which brings up something I've said before. Why does Firefox not include and enable Adblock by default? Everyone I know who uses Firefox installs Adblock first thing, so why not make Adblock part of the distribution package? A fresh installation of Firefox should automatically be configured to block all ads with Adblock and Filterset.G. Well, perhaps not Filterset.G, because the author of that list has the rather odd idea that his list is protectable by copyright and license. Mozilla should develop a similar list and include it with an Adblock-enabled Firefox distribution.

As things stand, only knowledgeable folks benefit from ad blocking in Firefox. Naive users who download and install the basic package don't know what they're missing. I've converted many people from IE to Mozilla with a simple demonstration. Call up cnn.com (or whatever) with IE and then with Mozilla with Adblock installed. Everyone who sees the difference immediately chooses Mozilla.

If Mozilla bundled Adblock and a decent set of filters with Firefox, they'd soon have 50%+ of the market instead of 10%. And they'd go a long way toward eliminating the adware/spyware problem, not to mention the plague of Internet advertising. That would also be the impetus that would force development of a usable micro-payments system, because advertising would no longer be a viable way to pay the costs of maintaining web sites.

Which is the real reason why Mozilla doesn't implement ad-blocking by default.

14:11 - If you have your taxes done for you by a preparer like H & R Block or a CPA, you might want to reconsider. Or at least look very carefully at anything the preparer asks you to sign. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, incredibly, that the IRS is about to change the rules to allow paid tax preparers to sell your information, including your entire tax return, to marketers and data brokers. They have to get your signature before they're permitted to sell your information, but how hard is that when they put a stack of papers in front of you for you to sign?


Wednesday, 22 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

08:36 - Shockingly, Microsoft has again delayed Vista, AKA Longhorn, AKA Shorthorn, AKA Nohorn. They now say that Vista will ship in January 2007.

Of course, a year ago, they were saying that Vista would ship in about a year. Now they're saying Vista will ship in ... about a year. Hmmm. My guess is they may actually ship something they call Vista in January 2007, but it really wouldn't surprise me if that slipped to mid-2007 or later.

Not that it matters. Vista long ago lost any claim to being a new version of Windows. Microsoft took a meat-axe to the proposed features list, and ended up chopping out everything that mattered. Vista's current feature set defines it as no more than a service pack for Windows XP, albeit one that Microsoft expects people to pay for.

In the meantime, Mac OS X and Linux just keep chugging along, improving with each release. Both are much better than Windows in terms of features, stability, security, and everything else that matters except application support. And that gap is closing fast, too. Every time I install Windows XP, I'm struck by how primitive it appears compared to modern operating systems. At best, Vista will be playing catch-up, but in the end it will still be in last place.

I have many technically-competent friends and acquaintances. Ten years ago, even five, many of them ran Windows by choice. That's no longer true. Today, almost none of them run Windows by choice. All of them use Linux or OS X as their primary operating systems, and use Windows only when there is no other option. That complete loss of mind-share doesn't bode well for Microsoft long-term.

The same is true for the other half of Microsoft's cash cow, Office. Among the technically ept, Office is considered a legacy office suite. No one uses it by choice, instead opting for the OpenOffice.org or StarOffice suites. And Microsoft has really shot itself in the foot with the new version of Office. It will actually be easier for people to migrate from older versions of office to OpenOffice.org or StarOffice than it will be for them to migrate to the new MS Office. Tastes rotten, more filling.

Ars Technica posted an interesting article about security and legal liability for those who choose to operate wide-open Wi-Fi APs. They conclude that there's no real security risk to doing so, nor any significant risk of legal liability. I don't agree.

In terms of security, there probably isn't much real risk in running an open AP, as long as you're on the secure side of your firewall/router and the AP is on the public side. But legal liability is another issue entirely. It's not likely to happen to you, but neither was it likely that lightning would strike any of the people that it killed last year.

Being sued by the RIAA or MPAA because someone used your open AP to download music or movies is one thing. Worst case, it may cost you a few thousand dollars in attorneys' fees and/or extortion payments to the RIAA/MPAA. As bad as that is, you would survive it. But if someone uses your open AP to download child pornography, your life could easily be ruined. Even if you're not guilty of anything more than providing an open Internet connection, you could find yourself in deep trouble with the government.

There may well be people in prison now, convicted of child pornography charges, whose only crime was not securing their networks. We'll never know for sure if someone whose computer was found to contain child pornography files actually downloaded those files himself, or if someone else had remote control of that computer and used it to store those files where they couldn't be traced to him. The possibility of being prosecuted on child pornography charges should itself be sufficient reason for anyone to avoid running an open AP.

Still, there's a happy medium. Instead of running a wide-open AP, you can run a NAN (neighborhood area network). Secure it with WPA, and allow only designated neighbors whose equipment is WPA-compatible to use your connection (and vice-versa). Even if one of your neighbors has a secret hobby, he's unlikely to use your connection to pursue it, because he'll be fully aware that he's likely to get caught in the fall-out if the authorities come knocking on your door.

I sent out a message to subscribers last night about a great deal on Verbatim DVD+R discs. NewEgg had a one-day special offer of a spindle of 100 Verbatim 8X DVD+R discs for $21 after rebate. If you didn't get in on it, I'm sorry. The deal ran out at midnight Pacific time last night.

Shortly after I sent the message, I was checking my mail on the den system, where I use web mail. I noticed a bounce message that listed several subscriber email addresses that are no longer valid. Ordinarily, I don't see these bounce messages because my mail filters kill them. This time, I saw the message. Here are some of the subscriber email addresses that had problems. I'll post them because they're no longer valid, so posting them won't cause spam problems:
<maathome@swcp.com>: host mx1.swcp.com[] said: 550
<maathome@swcp.com>: Recipient address rejected: 5.1.1
<maathome@swcp.com>... User unknown (in reply to RCPT TO command)

<jrobertball@earthlink.net>: host mx4.earthlink.net[] said: 550
jrobertball@earthlink.net...User unknown (in reply to RCPT TO command)

<jacqueline.clark@mindspring.com>: host mx12.mindspring.com[]
said: 550 jacqueline.clark@mindspring.com...User unknown (in reply to RCPT
TO command)

<quentinf@gte.net>: host relay.verizon.net[] said: 550 5.1.1
unknown or illegal alias: quentinf@gte.net (in reply to RCPT TO command)

<lhinson@mvn.net>: host mx1.mvn.net[] said: 550 <lhinson@mvn.net>:
Recipient address rejected: unknown user <lhinson@mvn.net> (in reply to
RCPT TO command)

<mscog@sbcglobal.net>: host sbcmx3.prodigy.net[] said: 553 5.3.0
<mscog@sbcglobal.net>... Addressee unknown, relay=[] (in
reply to RCPT TO command)

<klangill@cox.net>: host mx.east.cox.net[] said: 550
<klangill@cox.net> recipient rejected (in reply to RCPT TO command)

<ray.mears@physio-control.com>: host ns-mx1.physio-control.com[]
reply to RCPT TO command)
I also got a ton of bounces from people whose mailboxes were over quota. I won't post those because that problem should be self-limiting and because the email addresses are still valid.


Thursday, 23 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

08:36 - Not unexpectedly, heads are rolling in Redmond over the latest Vista delay. Pro-Microsoft commentators are now saying that Vista is two years late. That's very generous, considering that the original version of Vista was originally promised for 1995, under the Cairo code-name. That turned out to be vaporware, of course.

In 1999 or 2000, Microsoft promised us their new full-featured OS with WinFS and so on for 2002, which soon slipped to 2003, which soon slipped to 2004. In 2004, Microsoft gutted Vista entirely in order to make a promised 2005 ship date, which soon slipped again to 2006. Now Vista is promised for January 2007, and I see no reason to believe that's likely to happen. According to Jim Allchin, Vista still has lots of problems with minor things like "performance, drivers, testing, and security." In other words, the fundamental characteristics of an operating system.

Meanwhile, significant OS X and Linux updates are released every year or so. That makes Microsoft look not just bad, but ridiculous. The real problem, as I've said before, is that the Microsoft code-base is ancient. It dates back to the first release of Windows NT back in the early 1990's, before the Internet was even a tiny cloud on Microsoft's horizon. All Microsoft has done since then is patch, hack, and edit the original code base, turning it into a gigantic pile of spaghetti.

Apple saw the light several years ago. They discarded their then-current operating system, which was in its ninth iteration, and started from scratch without worrying about backward compatibility. Microsoft should have done the same thing for Windows 2000, but they didn't. They should have re-written Windows XP from scratch, but they didn't. They should have re-written Vista from scratch, but they didn't.

So, my prediction is that, after years and years of struggling, Microsoft is going to deliver ... a gigantic turd.

Apple Declares War on France. My sources tell me that France is expected to surrender later today.


Friday, 24 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

00:00 -


Saturday, 25 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

00:00 -


Sunday, 26 March 2006
[Daynotes Forums]    [Last Week]   [Mon]  [Tue]  [Wed]  [Thu]  [Fri]  [Sat]  [Sun]   [Next Week]    [HardwareGuys Forums]

00:00 -


Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.