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Archive for March, 2009

Los amigos

March 31st, 2009 Comments off

Jack and Scott at their leaving lunch. They will both be very missed. Good luck fellas!

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VOA News – African Catholics March in Support of Vatican AIDS Policy

March 29th, 2009 Comments off

If you ever needed a crystal clear example of how religion is a negative factor in society , I think this is it.  It’s criminal for anyone to tell young people, whether they are African of not that using condoms helps promote the AIDS epidemic.  As a testament (every pun intended) to the power if this blind faith.  The very people who would benefit most from a compressive education and condom availability program are now chanting their little hearts out in support of the evil that spouts from Rome.

How can the pope live with himself? He must know that his actions have put millions more at risk in Africa.  For what?  So he can hold true to his obsolete dogma? So he can pretend that people are going easily over come their sexual desires? Maybe he’s so out of tough with the world around him that he actually believes this BS to be true…  How can he expect people in Africa to abstain, when often all they have is the comfort of others when he can’t even get his own priests to keep it in their pants?

It’s painfully ironic that the “holy father” should have such scant regard for the well being of those who support him in his madness.

VOA News – African Catholics March in Support of Vatican AIDS Policy.

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Kevin Rose leaks Tesla Model S pics via Twitter | The Car Tech blog – CNET Reviews

March 26th, 2009 Comments off

The Prius is dead, long live Tesla!

If, like me you’ve decided that gas powered cars are no longer for you then you’re in for a treat.  Kevin Rose has broken all good faith with whoever let him take a look at the New Tesla Model S and has posted pics of the yet officially un-revealed car to Twitter of all places.

It’s sweet.  Very sweet..  Check out the c|net gallery in the article below..  I have serious needs for any car with a screen THAT BIG in the dash!

Bye bye BMW…

Kevin Rose leaks Tesla Model S pics via Twitter | The Car Tech blog – CNET Reviews.

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Minority Report for the rest of us!

March 26th, 2009 Comments off

This great talk by Pattie Maes of the MIT Fluid Interfaces Grup is really amazing.  Pattie’s team works on the cutting edge of user interface design and man-machine interaction.

This project is focused on augmented reality but takes a much more acceptable and pragmatic approach to the subject than previous attempts.  With nothing more than $350 dollars worth of off-the-shelf hardware, Pranav Mistry, one of Pattie’s students has built a fully functional and highly usable “6th sense” device.  I could go on, but at this point, if you’re still interested I think it’s best if you see for yourself.

The original posting on TED

MIT Media Lab

Pattie’s homepage

Pranav’s homepage

Many thanks to Jim Smith for giving me the heads-up on this.

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Retromodo: Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab Lets You Play Dr. Manhattan for Radioactive Funsies

March 25th, 2009 Comments off

This falls squarely in to the “what were they thinking” category.  Even for the early 50s it’s hard to believe that any manufacturer was given a green light to market a blatantly radioactive toy…..

The radioactive isotopes in this kit are unlikely to cause anyone a problem today.  The most worrisome being Zn-65 (an unstable form of Zinc) which has a have life of around 8 months. However the Alpha emitter found in the kit has a half life of around 22 years.  Harmless unless ingested but this was a science kit for children.. They never put things in their mouths now do they!  Even trace amounts of alpha emitters can be hazardous once inside the body.

Hit the link below for the full scoop.

Retromodo: Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab Lets You Play Dr. Manhattan for Radioactive Funsies.

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Nukes: 93-Year-Old Japanese Man Certified as Double A-Bomb Victim

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

WOW.  I actually thought this was a joke when I first read it but it seems to be true.  Just goes to show that old wisdom about carrying a bomb onto a plane might not be such a good idea after all.  I hope this guy gets some kind of insane award for the trauma he must have lived through and is probably still living with.

Nukes: 93-Year-Old Japanese Man Certified as Double A-Bomb Victim.

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Report: iPod touch generates more traffic than most phones | iPod | Macworld

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

Here’s some interesting data on mobile device adoption.  The iPhone and iPod Touch combined generate 6 times the amount of web traffic than Motorola’s Razr, even though there are more than 6 times the number of Razr’s in circulation.

Goes to show, Steve is right.  The software IS the user experience.

Report: iPod touch generates more traffic than most phones | iPod | Macworld.

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Brits want Google Street view shut down | Web Services | Macworld

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

This is typical British back-asswards thinking at its best!  Don’t kick up a fuss about random searches: don’t kick up a fuss about being on CCTV from the second you leave your front door: don’t kick up a fuss about traffic cameras every 100 yards: don’t kick up a fuss about having all your internet communication logged and stored for years…. No…..  But god forbid anyone should use a camera to take a picture of the streets in your home town so that it’s easier for people to find their way around strange places…. OMG!!!  FUSS TIME!!!

Good grief!

I guess when you live in a police state and have no control over the important stuff, you latch on to any petty thing you can to assert some control.. Sad.

Brits want Google Street view shut down | Web Services | Macworld.

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Brideshead – Relived

March 19th, 2009 Comments off

So, yet again, back in the day (ie. the early 80s) there was a seminal event on British TV called “Brideshead Revisited”.  Seminal not only for it’s stunning narrative by Evelyn Waugh but seminal for it’s stunning production.  Especially amazing as it was produced not by the venerable BBC but by that outcast of British broadcasting, “independent television”.

Recently, a feature film staring our beloved Emma made the rounds.  Not a Summer block buster but a resounding success with those of us who long for that England lost.  The movie did an admirable albeit abridged job of telling the story. However, tonight I went back and watched the original, 4×3’d, badly telecinied, showing age of it’s lineage..  There is a magic there that didn’t transfer to Cinemascope.

In the modern production, lost are the frailties of 1930’s society..  The subtle implications are tombstones which are more concerned with pace.  The enchanting voice-over that graces the original is gone, only to be replaced by more graphic visuals that not only lose the intent of the original but trash the elegance of that so often awkward language used in its most mesmerizing of forms.  Yesteryear was enchanted by Guilgud who lifted the mundane into the amazing with wit and seduction.  How the Ryder’s ever seemed so human is a tribute to his skill and subtlety. Ever lost.

Trappings of transatlantic steam ships are gone.  Preceded with the stark boring reality of the nether regions of the war.  Ryder, a jaded downtrodden army officer, plucked from his tedium when he realizes that his company has taken up Brideshead as it’s barracks.  From there the story unfolds like crisp linens on a warm Summer picnic table.  Heavenly, intoxicating, troubling and provocative.   Sebastian is almost an afterthought.  He conducts the orchestra telling the story almost as if he isn’t the focus of the tale.

To watch “Brideshead” and to love it is to give yourself to a dream of a country proclaimed by its history as a bastion of morales and honor.  Not really a role that old England ever played or deserved, however one that it cornered the market on and built the dream of so well.

Brideshead is a vision of an England I miss.  One I never knew and one that barely existed for a chosen few who never realized what gems they held.

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‘Upload Video’ Screen Suggests Video Capabilities in Next iPhone – Mac Rumors

March 19th, 2009 Comments off

iPhone 3.0 - Video Upload

We’re coming up on the anniversary of the iPhone 3G announcement at last years WWDC.  It is understandable therefore that rumors are already starting to circulate about the next revision of the iPhone hardware.

Macrumors via Engadget have a nice screen shot of a video upload feature that isn’t live in the iPhone 3.0 beta but is included in the software.  The current iPhone hardware doesn’t support video capture (at least not up to Apple’s standards) so this could point to some pretty nice new features coming when the new hardware ships.

‘Upload Video’ Screen Suggests Video Capabilities in Next iPhone – Mac Rumors.

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Work begins on iPhone OS 3.0 jailbreak | Apple – CNET News

March 19th, 2009 Comments off

iPhone 3.0

To be honest I surprised it took them this long to get started on it.  Apple probably needs to figure out which one of its “we’re sworn to secrecy under pain of death” developers is either the hacker or the hacker’s friend but in the meantime it looks like the wheels are turning to liberate the next generation of iPhones from the evil clutches of AT&T

Work begins on iPhone OS 3.0 jailbreak | Apple – CNET News.

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Wtf: No One Knew Jesus Would Come Back As a Cookie

March 19th, 2009 Comments off
Jesus as snack food

Jesus as snack food

This is good mid morning fodder (one might even say 11ses…  🙂

Know I’ll be quite candid here.  I have never understood the whole religion thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s Christian, Jewish, Hindu, whatever, I just don’t get it. However this article made me think.  So it’s considered blasphemy to use this guy’s name in vain but not his image?  I mean uttering “Holy Jesus” is a sin but creating effigies of him out of cookie dough is just fine.  Who makes up these rules?

It still doesn’t work for me.  No chocolate chips!

Wtf: No One Knew Jesus Would Come Back As a Cookie.

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SAN FRANCISCO / Mayor has history with renaming

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

Just when you thought Gavin Newsom had gotten over his poor judgement here he comes with another dumb-ass idea.  Renaming a street after Slick Willie!!!

You’ve got to be kidding me right?  I mean that guy did squat for this town.  He was too busy lining his pockets and giving business to his friends and family (allegedly).

Take the many thousands of dollars this is going to cost and buy our kids some school books will ya?

SHEESH!

SAN FRANCISCO / Mayor has history with renaming.

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Bush to write book on important decisions of presidency – CNN.com

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

Already this week has been full of fiction, technology fiction, financial fiction and now political fiction.

Bush can write????  Surely they meant to report, Chaney is going to write a book, retelling history the way he wants it recorded and his stick puppet is going to try to stand and talk at the same time in an attempt to sell us on how true it all is. Bet Rush is editing it!!

WAH, HA, HA, HA, HA……….  I love these guys.

Bush to write book on important decisions of presidency – CNN.com.

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Geeks Doing It: Computer Science Majors Get Laid More Than Any Other Kind of Geek

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

Don’t really know what to say to this other than “Well d’uh!”

Geeks Doing It: Computer Science Majors Get Laid More Than Any Other Kind of Geek.

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Hanwha’s Duo for Laptop lets you doodle on your standard 15.4-inch laptop

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

Sweet!  Nice way to leverage your existing investment and get a little bit of the bleeding edge action.  Shame it doesn’t work with 17″ lappies!

Tablet PC - Pah!

Hanwha’s Duo for Laptop lets you doodle on your standard 15.4-inch laptop.

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IBM Eyes Sun With Cisco On Its Mind – Forbes.com

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

Another un-merger story!  This one jumps the shark willingly, quoting industry analysts who say… “I don’t know if it’s happening, but it would be a pretty good fit for IBM”….  Urrrr….  Hang on…..  Did you notice the “I don’t know” at the beginning of that “informed” quote…

It goes on…

If the two companies ever reach a deal, it would be IBM’s largest-ever acquisition, and represent a departure from its recent strategy of focusing on deals to strengthen its software and services businesses, rather than hardware.

Urrr.  Sun is in the process of ditching its hardware business as fast as it can. Most of its recent layoffs where from the hardware groups especially the floundering SPARK technology.  If anything Sun has realized that if it’s to survive it needs to cut it’s losses in hardware and focus on software and services.  Isn’t that what IBM already does very, very well?  How, exactly, would that be any kind of departure?

I think as a culture our attention span might be decreasing over time because we’re “informed” by people who have even shorter attention spans, especially when it comes to verifying their facts!

I call shenanigans.  Moving on.

IBM Eyes Sun With Cisco On Its Mind – Forbes.com.

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U.K. to monitor, store all social-network traffic? | Security – CNET News

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

This is sad and shocking all at the same time.  Doesn’t anyone in the UK have a right to privacy anymore?  I totally get that when I’m in the street in London I am going to be monitored on CCTV cameras, but that’s because I’M IN PUBLIC.  Now citizens sitting in their PJs sending email to their buddies over Facebook in the privacy of their own homes can’t expect to enjoy the protection of that privacy?

This seems like yet another massive bite taken out of the ever dwindling civil liberties in the UK.  My old homeland is rapidly turning into the spookiest of Orwellian police states.  Cameras everywhere, police with the right to stop and search at will, face recognition tracking your every move and now even your email and status updates are up for grabs!

Another aspect of this that I find worrying it that these overly zealous politicos consistently go after things that the average citizen uses but has no control over. It’s quiet surveillance. Would they have the same easy ride is they decided that in addition to storing all your web traffic they were also going to record all your phone calls, or open all your mail and take copies of it? Of course not, but the underlying principle is the same is it not?

Scariest of all is the fact that the UK citizens are not up in arms about all this. I notice a mood of resignation among my UK friends. There’s nothing they can do about it. You could try voting for people who value civil rights instead of the spooks who want to spy on you 24×7.

<shudder>

U.K. to monitor, store all social-network traffic? | Security – CNET News.

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When the poets dreamed of angels

March 17th, 2009 Comments off

She rises early from bed
Runs to the mirror
The bruises inflicted in moments of fury
He kneels beside her once more
Whispers a promise
Next time I’ll break every bone in your body
And the well-wishers let the devil in
And if the river ran dry they’d deny it happening
As the card players deal their hands
From the bottom of the deck
Row upon row of feudal houses blown away
Medicine for the popular complaint
When the poets dreamed of Angels
What did they see?
History lined up in a flash at their backs
When the poets dreamed of Angels
What did they see?
The bishops and knights well placed to attack

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SCI FI Channel to become Syfy; “Imagine Greater” is new message | SCI FI Wire

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this name change is simply moronic.  Check out the readers comments after the ridiculously blinkered self indulgent drivel of an article.

What I’m just floored by is how in the hell they’ve managed to convince themselves that “SyFy” broadens perceptions…..  WHAT?   All it’s going to do is either make people think that they person who came up with it has the same spelling capability as a 2nd grader or that it’s so far up its own you-know-what as to be pretentious and irrelevant.

This is a great shame.  I only hope that the fans kick up as big of a stink as humanly possible to make the idiots who came up with this lame idea rethink it.

SCI FI Channel to become Syfy; “Imagine Greater” is new message | SCI FI Wire.

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Advertising – Sci Fi Channel Has a New Name – Now, It’s Syfy – NYTimes.com

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

WARNING – RANT AHEAD

I’m stunned.  This is the kind of wrong-headed crap you get when you put two people (Messes Hammer and Howe) who care not for the genre they are supposed to promote in charge of the Sci Fi channel.

These execs think it’s just a peachy keen idea to change the name of the channel to “SyFy”….  What?   Am I going mad??  Their reason boils down to – The name Sci Fi is too generic to trademark!  You’d think that would also have been a concern back in 1992 when the channel was launched.  Apparently they are a little slow on the up take.  Another “reason” by the evil exec twins from hell is that the term “Sci Fi” is too limiting.  Let me see if I understand.  To call a channel that shows Sci Fi the Sci Fi channel is limiting???  How exactly?  If the channel was showing DIY or scrap booking shows then I could see that limiting things to remodeling your bathroom to look like the bridge of the Enterprise or stenciling memory books with nothing but picture of Han, Luke and Yoda might indeed be a little limiting.  However they have decades of quality material across the massive range of all things that fall under the category of Science Fiction to pull from.  The only limiting thing I can see here is their intellect!

To be honest The poor old Sci Fi channel has gone through rough times ever since some fool handed Ms Hammer the reins about 8 years ago.  She has messed with the format, messed with the line up, even introduced wrestling (yes, wrestling that most note-worthy of Science Fiction activities) to the channel.  All in all doing much more harm than good.  Now to add insult to injury, they tells us that the universal name that refers to all the things that the fans know and love isn’t good enough for them..

I find this nonsense ill-advised, un-necessary and insulting.  If it wasn’t for the odd successful show like Battlestar Ms Hammer’s tenure at the Sci Fi channel would have been a complete disaster.

Advertising – Sci Fi Channel Has a New Name – Now, It’s Syfy – NYTimes.com.

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Dealzmodo: Gazaro Logs Gadget Prices Over Time (So You Don’t Get Screwed)

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

When is a deal not a deal?  When it’s only available for a day?  Very interesting site here that logs this stuff and gives you historic data to work with.  Wish I could change my pricing this frequently. Obviously retail doesn’t have the same VSOE issues as some of us…

Dealzmodo: Gazaro Logs Gadget Prices Over Time (So You Don’t Get Screwed).

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Obama’s Fearmongering Has Damaged The Economy « FOX Forum « FOXNews.com

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, after all, lately the Republicans have shown the world that there are few lows to which they won’t stoop.  However this one takes the biscuit.  Do these politicians suffer from the worst short-term memories on the planet or do they simply have no shame?

Obama’s Fearmongering Has Damaged The Economy « FOX Forum « FOXNews.com.

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Robots: The HRP-4C Model Robot Is Programmed to Work…It

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

Is it me or does this fembot have really big hands for a, ummmm, fembot..?  Apart from the misplaced digit lengthage, it’s pretty amazing tech.  Roll over Asimo.  You’re competitors are catching up!  Japan has lead the world in humanoid robot bodies for decades.  Looks like they’re getting close to something that would actually be accepted into society.  Now all we need is for Roney Brooks, Marvin Minsky and their buddies at MIT to get the AI sorted out and we’re home and dry.  Shame they seem to be nowhere as close to completing their side of the project as the Japanese are.

Read an interesting essay by Minsky over the weekend.  It was written a couple of years ago and he says that he reckons by the time computers are capable of 1000 MIPS we’ll have the computing power to support human levels of AI (assuming they can get the software to work!).  Today’s fastest desktops deliver about 25 MIPS. With CPU power roughly doubling ever year it will take us  5-6 years to reach that level.

Skynet is upon us.

Robots: The HRP-4C Model Robot Is Programmed to Work…It.

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Third-party iPod shuffle headphones will require Apple-licensed authentication chip

March 16th, 2009 Comments off

This is just crass!  Come on Apple…  You’re always complaining that Redmond is copying you, this is not a good way to reverse that trend.  Show a little leadership would you?

Third-party iPod shuffle headphones will require Apple-licensed authentication chip.

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YouTube – Stock Market Manipulation – Jim Cramer

March 13th, 2009 Comments off

If anybody wonders how in the hell we got into the financial mess we’re in now, all you have to do is listen to this guy.  Jim Cramer is the sleaze-bag who got dragged over hot coals on The Daily Show just the other night. It’s sobering to hear this clown brag about how he blatantly manipulates stock prices by planting false rumors…  Isn’t that illegal?  Where the hell is the SEC when you need them?  Oh silly me, they’re too busy locking up Martha Stewart coz she tried to save herself $45K..  Get a grip!

YouTube – Stock Market Manipulation – Jim Cramer.

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BBC buys, uses botnet to show dangers to PCs | Security – CNET News

March 13th, 2009 Comments off

More on the BBC’s new hacking career.

I’m finding it interesting to read people’s responses to the articles reporting on the BBC’s recent illegal actions to create a piece for one of their TV shows. Opinions seem to be clearly divided into two camps: Those (who like me) think that what the BBC did is clear violation of the Computer Misuse Act; and the others who either don’t think what the BBC did “should” be illegal or justify their actions by saying “No harm was done” or “It’s beneficial because it raises awareness”.

If find the arguments from the second group (let’s call them the apologists) very worrying on several levels.

Firstly: Laws exist because over time a threat has been determined from an action or type of behavior that is detrimental to the common good. Laws don’t get enacted easily.  Lots of debate and consideration goes on before any law makes it onto the books.  Not all of them are wonderful for sure, but they are there as a result of the process that governs us all having been applied.

Secondly: We live under the principle that no one (not even a TV company) is above the law.

Thirdly: and probably most unsettling to me is the issue of the PC owners rights.  I have not read any of the apologists mention the fact that the rights of the PC owners has been violated.  Whether or not they are considered to be “Negligent”, as one commenter wrote, is irrelevant.  The law is there to protect them from having their PCs used without their permission.  The law doesn’t distinguish between “used for evil” or “used for good” is “used” <period>. That criminal law was clearly violated by the BBC.

Consequences

Whether or not the UK’s prosecutors chose to press the case, the BBC is still open to actions from the 22,000 PC owners who unwittingly took part in the experiment.  That’s a whole lot of liability for one segment on a TV show that could have been produced in so many other less sensational ways and still have the same effect.

You have to question the ethics and the judgment of a production team who would sanction breaking the law with causal disregard for peoples rights just to gain some “sizzle” for their piece.  Whether computer damage was done or not, damage was done because the law was broken.  Broken not unknowingly, broken not without forethought, broken not without disregard.  The damage done is to the law, to the reputation of the BBC and to the owners of 22,000 PCs.

When laws are vague, ambiguous or just plain confusing, judges make case determinations with help of something called “precedent”. This is based on the findings in previous cases where such an ambiguity had been previously noted. There is no ambiguity here.  The law does not and should not take into account intent. That would open the door to chaos – “I didn’t mean to run him down” – “I didn’t mean to not pay taxes” – I didn’t mean to steel that money”.

There was a person in the UK hundreds of years ago who made a name for himself by knowingly breaking the law.  His justification was that he was working for the common good by redressing what he saw as an imbalance in the distribution of wealth.  His name was Robin Hood.  With their actions the BBC joins him as fellow highwayman, anarchist and criminal.

If the state chooses to turn a blind eye, I hope that the law has its day in court in the hands the people who’s rights the BBC so blatantly disregarded.

BBC buys, uses botnet to show dangers to PCs | Security – CNET News.

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T-shirts: Thank Goodness the Lightsaber-Toothed Tiger Is Extinct

March 13th, 2009 Comments off

WARNING: Giggling Star Wars geeks ahead (me included).

T-shirts: Thank Goodness the Lightsaber-Toothed Tiger Is Extinct.

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Video: Kindle 2 sees the wrong end of a laser, recommends you don’t panic

March 13th, 2009 Comments off

File this one under “Don’t try this at home” but Douglas would be pleased.

Video: Kindle 2 sees the wrong end of a laser, recommends you don’t panic.

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BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers • The Register

March 12th, 2009 Comments off

Security is done in that grey area between right and wrong, where the need to protect your secrets is weighed  against the need to be open, honest and accessible.  Unfortunately many computer users have been lulled into a false sense of “security” by the very industry that sprung up out of the virus ridden late 80s to protect them.  This has lead to the belief that just having a security program installed or trusting Microsoft’s bundled safeguards is going to keep you safe.  Without proper diligence even the “cadillac” of security software isn’t going to be enough.

This vulnerability was made all too obvious this week when the BBC decided to step out of that grey area and jump headlong into the darkness.  By taking over an established botnet of 22,000 unsuspecting PCs to run an “experiment” they engaged in exactly the same behavior as the villains they were trying to warn their viewers about. Now their defense is that they did it with the best of intensions, which I’m sure is true.  However, should they expect the same “get out of jail” card to be played had they decided to go steal cars to prove how easy it was?  I don’t think so.

The laws are pretty clear about what constitutes a computer crime in the UK (and elsewhere).  Their final act of “kindness” really is the kicker.  Without the PC owner’s permission, they modified the PC configurations to replace the existing desktop wallpaper with one explaining what they had done and advising the PC’s owner to get better protection.  That’s a clear violation of the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. Was the car door open?  Were the keys in the ignition? Probably.  Doesn’t change the fact that the BBC got in and drove away.

BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers • The Register.

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