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Old Blog Posts May 15, 2006

Subject Keep the Internet Safe for Predators
Posted Date: May 15, 2006 – Monday – 11:58 AM
“Concerned about reports of pedophiles trolling wildly popular “social networking” websites for teenage victims, Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) has introduced a bill to prohibit anyone under 18 from accessing them on school or library computers.” link

OK, real issue, bad legislation; to “protect children from the Internet”. I have a better idea. Maybe we could make the internet safer for kids? Like, maybe instead of keeping them off the internet, we could work to keep the predators off?

Just a thought, because the kids ARE going to be on the Internet. Social networking was built for them, eventually they could rule the world with that stuff.

Information is key to good safety. Myspace allows you to mark a profile as private; that should be a basic thing that a kid should know to do! Be careful about who you give information too, and how much. Only be friends with your friends friends; practical info like that could help more than a bunch of stupid rules!


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Subject They’re Watching Who You Call
Posted Date: May 15, 2006 – Monday – 11:13 AM
ABC ran an article talking about how they have been informed that the government is tracking their phone numbers to figure out where leaks are coming from.

We really need to remember these government secrets include stories of secret overseas military prisons and documented cases of torture. Is this really the goverment we want spying on our phones? Are we sure we want them to lawfully keep secrets like this?

No, because those governments “disappear” people.

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Subject How to Avoid Email Misunderstandings
Posted Date: May 15, 2006 – Monday – 6:07 AM
OK, I have the week off, so I’ll be blogging some.

Slashdot.org had an interesting link to an article on why emails are so easily misunderstood.

Email does not express emotion well. We all know that; we’ve experienced it. But for some reason we think we CAN decode them (and encode them, for that matter).

To avoid miscommunication, e-mailers need to look at what they write from the recipient’s perspective, Epley says. One strategy: Read it aloud in the opposite way you intend, whether serious or sarcastic. If it makes sense either way, revise. Or, don’t rely so heavily on e-mail. Because e-mails can be ambiguous, “criticism, subtle intentions, emotions are better carried over the phone,” he says.”

There is other good advice in the article as well.

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Subject Book Review: Ishmael
Posted Date: May 13, 2006 – Saturday – 4:48 PM

In the beginning, man lived in the world, and the world was a garden. He was in harmony with the gods, and with all other living things. Man did have a special place in the world; he was highly intelligent; more so than any other animal.

But he was bound by the Laws of Life.

Life is born, lives, reproduces, and then dies, making way for new Life to do the same. This was not a fallen system; this was what the gods had realized was necessary, and it was good. The grass was food for the grasshopper, who was food for the mouse, who was eventually food for the grass. Everything had a place, and grass, grasshopper, and mouse all lived.

But at some point man revolted against this law. He took more than he needed, and started destroying the garden to protect and sustain himself as he saw fit. He dominated or destroyed the other animals, and plants, and even other men. Putting them to work to bring him safety, power and pleasure, and all this without regard to his affect on the world.

He believed he had attained special knowledge that made him powerful; secrets that before only the gods knew. He saw himself knowing good from evil; judging justice from injustice, and choosing who will live and who will die. This was just an illusion, though; He was still a creature of the garden; in submission to the cycle of life and to the gods.

Eventually, after thousands of years, the fruit of this war became unmistakable. It was a war on Life, and Life died at at a rate unmatched in tens of millions of years. Humans also killed each other at a rate never seen. But compared to the carnage against non-human Life it was nothing. And besides, he was very clever. So man thrived, and eventually covered the whole earth.

And then a telepathic gorilla meets a disillusioned pupil, and there Ishmael begins. Definitely an excellent read, it’s a story of mythic proportions. The concepts are kind of primitive; but they are supposed to be from that point of view. So it makes sense.


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Subject You’re Invited to a Beach Party
Posted Date: May 9, 2006 – Tuesday – 12:14 PM
Open invitation to my friends and neighbors; I’m having a party. I just got a new job, and it’s May. Either reason is good enough to throw a shindig!

When: Friday, May 12th, 7:00 PM-11:30 PM.
Where: Golden Gardens, Seattle WA
What To Bring: Yourself and friends.

This is a public beach park, so if you bring alcohol be discreet. I’ll be providing lots of wine and beer, and plastic cups so the po po don’t bother us (Ever seen a fifth of vodka poured out on the sand? Not fun).

We’ll also have a fire, hot dogs, and smores. Leave a comment or RSVP if you might make it, or whatever.

Oh yeah, and here is a map. We’ll be on the NORTH END, by the pond and railroad tracks.


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Subject The Dean is Watching you!
Posted Date: May 25, 2006 – Thursday – 11:05 AM
Look out, students!. “High school students are going to be held accountable for what they post on blogs and on social-networking Web sites such as MySpace.com.

“The board of Community High School District 128 voted unanimously on Monday to require that all students participating in extracurricular activities sign a pledge agreeing that evidence of ‘illegal or inappropriate’ behavior posted on the Internet could be grounds for disciplinary action.”

Come on…inappropriate? Do we really feel the need to stomp on free speech like this? Doing something illegal and talking about it publicly, yeah, you’re going got get in trouble for that. But just for saying something “inappropriate”.

Just wait; they’re coming after the rest of us, too.

Comments from Slashdot.

“So if my kid has something to say about his school, I’ll help him write it and I’ll post it on MY blog. Then the school can deal with me, instead of picking on a kid.”

“It’s jackass policies like this that make kids slander school officials in the first place. Honestly, when kids are restricted this way, they only fight back harder. If the school thinks the kids’ blogs are inappropriate now…”

“This is a good thing. The school is doing its job of educating today’s youth and preparing them for the draconian, tattle-tale, nanny state the US has devolved into. As an adult, you too can have your phone tapped and your house searched without a warrant. It’s good that they learn these lessons while they’re young.”

“If we’re going to become a 1984 style police state it makes sense to start with the young people.”

“My first thought was, “Thank God, they’re WRITING!!”

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Subject Secure Computers are Against the Law
Posted Date: May 22, 2006 – Monday – 12:55 PM
When someone figured out that a software product had a security defect; they told the owners of the software about the issue; preferably with proof. The DMCA makes this illegal, though.

Exploiting a software security issue without the owners consent is now against the law, even when done for legitimate security research. I’m not making this up.

Hacking other people’ computers has always been wrong; that’s been the case for quite a while. Nobody is arguing that. But by the DMCA it’s illegal to hack your own computer; even with purely scholarly intent.

As you might imagine; this has put a damper on many professionals, and now even more casual users. There are some explicit correlations between censorship and copyright, and they go back hundreds of years (this is not a new issue).

More information from the EFF:

“Bowing to DMCA liability fears, online service providers and bulletin board operators have begun to censor discussions of copy-protection systems, programmers have removed computer security programs from their websites, and students, scientists and security experts have stopped publishing details of their research on existing security protocols. Foreign scientists are increasingly uneasy about traveling to the United States out of fear of possible DMCA liability, and certain technical conferences have begun to relocate overseas.”
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Subject Pearl Jam Releases Creative Commons Video
Posted Date: May 21, 2006 – Sunday – 6:45 AM
Pearl Jam has always been very user friendly. They appreciate their fans; and recognize their importance. For a long time they’ve been offering their concert CDs as downloadable mp3s; and now they’ve released the video for “Life Wasted” under a creative commons license. Go Pearl Jam!

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Subject Reality Bleedthrough
Posted Date: May 19, 2006 – Friday – 3:46 PM
It’s like in Existenz, when objects from the game world start showing up in reality (“My dog brought this to me”). Or The Thirteenth Floor, when a virtual bartender escapes into real life.

How could this happen? A game within a game…maybe reality is just a part of the game, or maybe the game is actually a part of reality.

I reason I bring this up is that I read this weird article about a house full of beer cans. Then I’m in my car later that day, and the DJ is talking about this same dude.

This is starting to become a regular experience. It appears that the Internet is no longer just a game; it’s for real now.

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Subject We the Media
Posted Date: May 17, 2006 – Wednesday – 8:01 AM
Tim O’Reilly, the founder of O’Reilly Media, wrote this article on the new web. He had some great things to say about blogging:

“But like Wikipedia, blogging harnesses collective intelligence as a kind of filter. What James Suriowecki calls “the wisdom of crowds” comes into play, and much as PageRank produces better results than analysis of any individual document, the collective attention of the blogosphere selects for value.

While mainstream media may see individual blogs as competitors, what is really unnerving is that the competition is with the blogosphere as a whole. This is not just a competition between sites, but a competition between business models. The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of what Dan Gillmor calls “we, the media,” a world in which “the former audience”, not a few people in a back room, decides what’s important.


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