Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Posted By Allen at 4:42 PM
Reiter's Wireless Data Web Log has a piece about a recent announcement that the city of Baltimore is going to provide free WiFi along the Inner Harbor part of the city. This is really great news for free WiFi advocates. This is the way that WiFi should be provided, as a free service (either municipal, or by private business, or both) to encourage people to move downtown. There is no better way to get geeks with money to start patronizing your downtown shops and offices than by giving away free WiFi internet access in that area. It's like a salt lick ;-)
Posted By Allen at 4:37 PM
There is currently a great satire piece on kuro5hin.org describing how to write bad documentation that looks good. The best piece is towards the end when the author talks about trouble ticket systems.
Theoretically, your trouble ticket system contains all the information you've been trying to obfuscate. In practice, all such systems exemplify the flaws we've discussed: poor organization, too much irrelevant detail and too little discussion of 'why'. At best, your trouble ticket database is full of sketchy problem descriptions and meaninglessly vague resolution fields. More likely, the ticket database is an incoherent work of speculative fiction that doesn't contain records for many changes.
Posted By Allen at 7:50 AM
Designtechnica News says that Kodak is going to stop making slide projectors. The company will continue to make slide film, but the projectors will be discontinued. This isn't too much of a surprise as Kodak announced last week that they were going to move their focus to digital photography.
Posted By Allen at 7:47 AM
Here is a spooky idea. How about a contest where a major corporation puts a GPS in it's packaging so that it's representatives can track you down and give you prizes. Well wait no longer, The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Coke is going to be doing just that this summer, and that they are testing the program in Canada and Australia.
Thrill Seeker uses satellite tracking to locate winners. The prizes are Peugeot cars and $10,000. Summertime prizes are common in the soft-drink world, given that they help stir interest during an important selling season. This year's summer promotion from Pepsi, for example, touted a potential prize of $1 billion. (It wasn't won, by the way.) The oddity of Coke's promotion revolves around how winners will get their prizes. The cans used will be equipped with Global Positioning System transponders.While, on the surface, this sounds like a neat idea. I think there are some potential privacy issues. For example, can Coke track the package before it's opened? One would assume that is the case because they want to be able to ambush a winner with their prize. Will Coke be chasing a winner down the street in a prize car? That could make for good L.A. television.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Posted By Allen at 12:44 PM
It's a sad day :-( Yahoo! News - U.S. Court Unplugs Anti-Telemarketing List
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal court has blocked the national 'do not call' list that would have allowed consumers to stop most unwanted telephone sales, one week before the much-anticipated measure was due to take effect.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Posted By Allen at 10:23 AM
In this excellent piece on Techdirt:
There have been a number of opinion pieces showing up in newspapers across the country lately saying that the 'sue your customers' strategy of the RIAA is the only sensible path to take. Here's a phenomenal response to one such article that makes some wonderful points on copyright infringement vs. theft and who's really being robbed. First, it says that (as we've asserted repeatedly here) not only is file sharing not theft, the Supreme Court has even said so. They clearly distinguished between copyright infringement and theft in a 1985 case, where they said, '(copyright infringement) does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud... The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use.' Making matters even worse for the RIAA, the article points out that the record labels represented by the RIAA often don't have the digital rights to the music from the artists they represent. However, they are collecting money (from fee-based services like iTunes and from these legal cases) and not giving it to the artists they represent. Thus, the argument goes, isn't it really the RIAA who is stealing (used properly) from musicians?
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Posted By Allen at 2:41 PM
Here is a story from Newsday.com which states that the OCLC is suing a hotel in NYC because they used the Dewey Decimal system to classify it's rooms.
DUBLIN, Ohio -- A global computer library service is seeking one heck of a fine against a New York City luxury hotel. The Library Hotel, overlooking the New York Public Library, opened in August 2000 as an homage to the Dewey Decimal system of classifying books by topic. Each floor is dedicated to one of 10 Dewey categories. The 60 rooms are named for specific topics, such as room 700.003 for performing arts, with appropriate books inside. Trouble is, the classification system isn't in the public domain.Perhaps the most disgusting thing about this incident is the damages requested by OCLC:
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Wednesday seeks triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater, from hotel owner Henry Kallan.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Posted By Allen at 9:25 AM
I just got an email message from United Airlines that says customers will now be able to use their cell phone right after landing. More details can be found in the Press Release.
Beginning today, you may use cell phones* shortly after landing on all domestic United flights after the aircraft has left the active runway and is taxiing toward the gate. Flight attendants will make an announcement advising you when it’s safe to use your phone. For safety reasons, you will not be allowed to leave your seat during taxi to retrieve your phone. On departure, you may use cell phones on domestic and international flights only when the aircraft door is open. Two-way radios are not allowed for use anytime aboard the plane.
Posted By Allen at 9:03 AM
CNN.com is reporting that
In a recent study, brown capuchin monkeys trained to exchange a granite token for a cucumber treat often refused the swap if they saw another monkey get a better payoff -- a grape. Instead, they often threw the token, refused to eat the piece of cucumber, or even gave it to the other capuchin after viewing the lopsided deal, said Emory University researcher Sarah Brosnan. She said the results indicate man and monkey may have inherited a sense of fairness from an evolutionary ancestor.So, the next time someone tells you that something isn't fair call him a monkey. This, I'm sure, will smooth everything over.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:20 AM
Jet Blue has decided to step up and be the next airline to sell out it's customers private data to the US Government. CAPPS II is back, but this time it's Jet Blue instead of Delta. Take a look at this article from DontSpyOnUs Here is a quote from the article:
In a secret, off-the-record meeting held recently at TSA headquarters, TSA chief James M. Loy informed an elite audience of conservative opinion-makers that JetBlue Airways is replacing Delta Airlines as the 'testing platform' for the CAPPS II internal border control system. The meeting was attended by former US Representative Bob Barr as well as leaders from several conservative public policy groups. JetBlue Airways has shown its true spirit by pushing to be first in line for fascism. Rather than being merely the airline with free DirecTV, JetBlue shall henceforth be known as the airline with thousands of daily, non-stop trips from Washington, DC into the private lives of Americans foolish enough to fly their Orwellian, unpatriotic airline. It's time for all patriotic Americans to share with JetBlue a little of that Boycott Delta love. If the JetBlue leadership hadn't been under a rock for the past six months, they would be well aware of the pillorying in the media and the countless millions of dollars in lost revenue borne by Delta by participating in the first round of CAPPS II testing.
Posted By Allen at 10:51 AM
Wired news is reporting in this article that a smallpox vaccine may help to reduce the risk of AIDS infection.
'Our outcomes are very encouraging,' said Ken Alibek, a bioterrorism and smallpox expert at George Mason. 'Additional studies that may lead us to more definitive conclusions already are under way.' Many researchers have proposed links between protection against smallpox and against the AIDS virus. Some studies have noted that older people who were vaccinated against smallpox were also less likely to contract HIV.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Posted By Allen at 10:17 PM
I've gotten behind in my reviews, so I've posted a second one tonight to try to make up for that. In this review I take a look at The Sex Gates by Darrell Bain and Jeanine Berry.
The Sex Gates is unlike any book I have ever read. It's equal parts Science Fiction, Erotic Literature, and Social Commentary. It's fast paced and easy to follow, but the concepts brought forth in the book will have you thinking about them for many days after you finish the book.
Posted By Allen at 9:50 PM
I've just posted my review of Stephen King's The Drawing of the Three. This is the second book in his dark tower series, and I loved it as much as the first.
The Drawing of the Three is equally as enthralling as The Gunslinger it moves the quest for the Dark Tower forward and shows us new glimpses into Roland's world. Reading this book is like watching a street demonstration through the closed venetian blinds of your safely locked house. It's fascinating, and a little scary, it's unpredictable and exhilarating, it's over before you have time to reach for the camera.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:41 AM
The Alliance For Marriage in conjunction with Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Ralph Hall (D-TX), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), David Vitter (R-LA), have brought back the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J.Res. 56). This is a constitutional amendment that states:
With that in mind an argument that says that gay marriage is against The Bible, or God's will, just falls short for me. Marriage is a civil agreement, that is why the power to marry people is granted by the state.
In the United States our constitution guarantees that congress will not impose a religion on the people.
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.My first question on this issue is, "Why do we need to outlaw gay marriage?" I don't understand how two men, or two women expressing their love for one-another in a marriage ceremony really effects anyone else. I don't understand the problem that this amendment would solve. No one has really stated how gay marriage has harmed our society, and backed it up with some real data. Sure, some people don't like the fact that some people are gay. I don't like the fact that some people are stupid, but I'm not about to lobby for a law outlawing stupidity. Marriage is a Civil agreement. It is the recognition, by the state, that two people are forming a household. It bestows certain rights on those two people so that they can visit each other in the hospital, can inherit when their partner dies, and can be covered by all the other protections afforded to married couples. Marriage is not necessarily a religious ceremony. Yes many people choose to be married by a religious figure, but it is not required. My wife and I were married by a Judge, and many people are married by state officials every day. Also remember that the end of the religious marriage ceremony goes like this, "With the power vested in me by the state of
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof.”Amending the constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman is an attempt to impose the religious views of one set of people on the entire population as a whole. Many people seem to think this is OK because it's, allegedly, the majority of people who want marriage defined this way. It's not OK. Our constitution was written to protect the minority, whether they be a political minority, a religious minority, or a racial minority. In this case gay couples need protection from the persecution of the majority. The same arguments that are used today against gay marriage were used in the past to argue against interracial marriage. These argument didn't work then, they never turned out to be true, and they shouldn't work today. I'm not gay. I know very few gay people. This amendment would never effect me or how I live my life. That will be the case for many of you reading this entry, but that doesn't mean you should ignore this issue. I urge you to write to your congressman, and tell him to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Tell the Government that it has no right to intrude into our love life.
Posted By Allen at 11:32 AM
NewScientist.com is reporting that a researcher in the UK has come up with an objective blood test to measure how much pain a person is feeling. If this research pans out it could provide huge benefits for several different fields in medicine.
A simple blood test could be the first objective measure of how much pain someone is experiencing, the test's inventor claims. As well as revolutionising pain research, the assay could prove invaluable for doctors treating young children, people who are not fully conscious, and anyone else unable to communicate properly. Many pain researchers are sceptical about whether such a test is possible. But inventor Shaun Kilminster claims his test has already been shown to work in headache sufferers.
Friday, September 12, 2003
Posted By Allen at 9:56 AM
ZDNet Australia is reporting that Sony Ericsson has recalled some of their phone chargers because they explode.
Sony Ericsson has recalled around 350,000 phone chargers in the UK because of a fault that could cause the units to explode, resulting in flying pieces of plastic and exposed live wiring. The CST-13 phone charger, which is manufactured in Thailand by a company called Delta, has an identification number--BML 162 099/3 R1A--printed on the socket and is supplied with Sony Ericsson Phone Models T68i, T300, T310, T610, as well as several Bluetooth hands-free accessories. The charger has also been sold separately.
Posted By Allen at 9:22 AM
Space.com has a piece by Joseph N. Pelton about why we need a space program. With so many people asking the question, I'm glad to see someone come up with a good answer.
NASA as well as national space programs around the world are today isolated from the man-in-the-street. This gap needs serious and urgent attention by Congress, the president and the leadership of NASA. Actually the lack of a space program could get us all killed. I don’t mean you or me or my wife or children. I mean that Homo sapiens as a species are actually endangered. Surprising to some, a well conceived space program may well be our only hope for long-term survival. The right or wrong decisions about space research and exploration may be key to the futures of our grandchildren or great-grandchildren or those that follow. Arthur C. Clarke, the author and screenplay writer for 2001: A Space Odyssey, put the issue rather starkly some years back when he said: “The dinosaurs are not around today because they did not have a space program.” He was, of course, referring to the fact that we now know a quite largish meteor crashed into the earth, released poisonous Iridium chemicals into our atmosphere and created a killer cloud above the Earth that blocked out the sun for a prolonged period of time.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Posted By Allen at 2:34 PM
Here is a story from PalmInfocenter.com that is reporting on two new WiFi chips from Phillips and Broadcom.
"Phillips Electronics and Broadcom have announced new semiconductor Wi-Fi 802.11b chips and solutions, suitable for use in mobile devices such as PDAs and mobile handsets. The new chips are much smaller and more power efficient than current Wi-Fi solutions on the market and enable WLAN connectivity without dramatically compromising battery life."
Posted By Allen at 2:28 PM
It looks like the RIAA has finally stooped to the level of the common school playground bully. It turns out one of the people they just sued for music swapping was a 12-year-old honors student from New York City. I'm sure she was a real threat to their business model. Here is the story from FOXNews.com
"NEW YORK %u2014 The music industry has turned its big legal guns on Internet music-swappers %u2014 including a 12-year-old New York City girl who thought downloading songs was fun. Brianna LaHara said she was frightened to learn she was among the hundreds of people sued yesterday by giant music companies in federal courts around the country. 'I got really scared. My stomach is all turning,' Brianna said last night at the city Housing Authority apartment where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother."
Posted By Allen at 2:23 PM
The Motley Fool is reporting that Barnes and Noble is going to stop selling ebooks on their www site.
"In a surprise move, Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) has stopped selling eBooks. The online retailer is in the process of e-mailing its affiliates to let them know of the program's demise this week."This is really a shame. I have been reading almost all of my books in electronic form for the last two or three years. I've saved a good deal of money, and a great deal of back pain when I moved the last time.
Friday, September 5, 2003
Posted By Allen at 3:06 PM
Yahoo! News - Disneyland Ride Derails, Injuring 11 - Official
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A car on a roller coaster at Disneyland derailed on Friday, injuring 11 people, an Anaheim city official said. One person on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was in critical condition and taken to a nearby medical center for treatment, Los Angeles television station KCAL 9 reported.
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Posted By Allen at 9:35 PM
I mentioned in my last post that Jenna and I just returned from a trip to San Diego. We had a great time. I just finished going through the 311 pictures I took while we were there, and have posted the 47 best pics in the gallery. I'm especially proud of the animal pictures from the San Diego Zoo, many of them turned out really well. It was very hard to pick the pictures for posting to the site.
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Posted By Allen at 7:57 AM
Many of you have wondered why this site hasn't been updated since last week. I was on a short vacation in San Diego, CA. My wife and I had a wonderful time, and returned last evening. I'll be posting pictures shortly. You can expect a return to the normal blogging this week. Of course, first I have to wade through about 7000 email message.