Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami...

I think we have all seen the power of nature with the recent devastation in Asia. I was watching the news channels on Foxtel, also I read some news articles on the web and noted a few curious things:
  • Fox News only had short (1-2 minute) segments on the tsunami whereas the other channels (CNN, BBc, Sky News) went with nearly continuous coverage. Although it is becoming a theme on this blog of mine, my opinion of the US is not improving.
  • I was watching Sky News and some female news anchor (Naomi Robson possibly) was interviewing a plate tectonic geologist talking about the reasons for the quake and how Western Australia was quite lucky to escape damage. He then went on to discussing there could be possible plate movements off the WA coast in the Indian Ocean but Perth could be spared because of the width of the continental shelf and shape of the sea floor near the coast, before he could finish the silly woman interrupted him and blurted out "What about Sydney? Could it experience a similar thing to Phuket?" in a very demanding way. The geo responded quite calmly saying that major plate movements that could affect Sydney are too far away to be considered dangerous. I then changed over to BBC...
  • News.com.au have a photo gallery (http://www.news.com.au/common/photogallery/0,7579,^^22052,00.html) up showing the water moving in at a resort in Thailand. If you search for the full sequence by the photographer (http://www.pbase.com/issels/phuket_tsunami&page=all) you will find that they have played with the sequence of photos. Also the man they say was found a kilometre away dead (Frame 5) did not die at all, he was saved by someone lifting onto a balcony soon after the photo was taken. I know it may be chaotic in Phuket at present, but a little fact checking might not go astray.
Have any of you noticed some weird stuff in the media too?

Friday, December 24, 2004

Muppets...

With the announcement of the Muppet Wizard of Oz and the subsequent discussion in this forum - http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=288314&page=1&pp=50 - I decided to add my own muppet casting...

The Muppet Matrix

Kermit - Neo

Miss Piggy - Trinity
Rowlf the Dog - Morpheus
Gonzo - Cipher
Dozer - ???
Fozzie - Tank
Janice - Switch
Floyd - Apoc
Scooter - Mouse

Sam the Eagle - Smith

Statler - Agent 1
Waldorf - Agent 2

Swedish Chef - Oracle

Robin - Spoon Kid


Dozer is my only unknown...

Friday, December 10, 2004

No surprises anymore...

Do the US know what they are doing? Is it like a ship that has lost its captain?

http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/Countries-that-refuse-US-immunity-face-aid-cuts/2004/12/10/1102625502044.html

The new bill passed by Congress and approved by the moronic Dubya outlines the foreign aid that the US is making available, but it also puts in place that anyone who supports the International Criminal Court will be refused aid.

See Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court) for the history and role of the ICC.

Some people...

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,11640098%255E28102,00.html

Some people just take their favourite band way too seriously...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Audioscrobbler...

I do not know what a scrobbler is but there is theis site called Audioscrobbler that is gathers music play stats from individual users through the use of a player plugins.

http://www.audioscrobbler.com

Very neat idea. It also gives you the ability to find similar artists to ones you like and find other people who have the same tastes as you so you can hunt for new music to add to your collection.

Now, all I need is a broadband connection. Are you listening Telstra?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Funny...

I would hate to think what the world will become if this isn't a joke...

http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news1004/nosports.html

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Spammers attack anti-spam website

It seems that Lycos is attempting to attack spammers, according to this article, by providing a grid computing-based DDoS "screen saver" similar to the SETI at home and protein folding services.

But in an ironic twist, the Lycos website was attacked by spammers and brought down in a possible DDoS attack. This all brought a thought to mind: Are people with malicious intent always more resourceful and determined than those that do good? Or is it simply that there is more of them?

A work colleague suggested that due to the complexity of interconnected computer systems, it is always easier to attack than defend. If you consider that any piece of software of note that was ever released has been hacked, this theory seems to be on the ball.

Software companies spend countless money trying to make their systems or software "un-hackable" and yet this has not yet proved to be so. This includes systems that should be the epitome of the term "secure", such as the FBI's computer systems.

Another contributing factor is that hackers generally have large egos. Its far easier to be recognised and revered in the community if you've hacked into some secure system or cracked some software. No one has won any awards or accolades for writing the best security system in the world, yet, because no such thing exists. Naturally if you are handy with your hacking skills, you are likely to lean towards the dark side.

In my humble opinion, there is no end in sight in the fight against hackers. But have some software companies gone too far? Consider Valve and their "Steam" online authorisation software...

More on that later.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Functionally better, but worse...

Texas Instruments has entered the portable music player business with its own ipod competitor.

It features:
- 5GB 1" Seagate HDD
- FM tuner
- DSP chip
- Colour LCD screen for viewing JPEG and MPEG-4 files
- USB 2.0
- 15 hour battery life when playing MP3s

All sounds pretty appealing for US$250...

Until you see what it looks like...
http://www.ti.com/portableaudio6

Damn, that is ugly. TI could have hired a design company like Frog Design (http://www.frogdesign.com/) who have proven skills in producing good looking hardware products and added a small amount to the unit price.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Hybrid "stealth" Humvee

Found an interesting story about a Hybrid -Powered Humvee.

An interesting innovation indeed. There's no question that Hybrid power is very efficient and can provide a substantial saving in fuel costs when you consider a "real" Hummer has a large (6.8L or so) V8 motor and weighs around 3 tonnes.

Nevertheless, one can't help but wonder what happens when this new Humvee comes under attack and both the electric and diesel power sources are employed for maximum power. When the batteries run out, the occupants are left with a wonderful 2.5L inline 4 diesel pushing a crazy 138HP. Top speed on diesel power: 50kmh.

Just what you need with bullets grazing past your head.

Surprises...

Howard continues to surprise me, when I think he has lowered Australia's international reputation to the lowest point ever, he goes and does it again.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/PM-riles-Asia-with-snub-to-peace-treaty/2004/11/25/1101219685876.html

What reason can they have for not signing this treaty?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Collection...

If turning up at fatal car crashes wasn't bad enough, having a swarm of bees attack you might just push you over the edge...
http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Swarm-of-bees-attacks-rescuers-at-crash/2004/11/24/1101219575078.html?oneclick=true

Isn't there a bit too much doom and gloom in this article?
http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Parents-blamed-for-teen-drinking/2004/11/23/1100972401508.html?oneclick=true

Teenagers have been drinking large amounts for years and has the alcoholic population grown as a result? I'd like to see some facts here.

Good gig to go to...
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/11/23/1100972390329.html?oneclick=true

Monday, November 22, 2004

Electric cars...

A step in the right direction right here:
http://www.drive.com.au/editorial/article.aspx?id=8762&vf=4&bg=1&pp=0

One thing concerns me about electric cars, all the reports go on about how quiet they are yet no one seems to mention the dangers posed to the deaf, the blind and daydreaming pedestrians.

Will electric cars have to play some sort of sound through PA speakers to warn people of their approach? At present you can hear the engine and maybe the tyres, but with electric motors being very quiet and the high efficiency tyres used on electric cars there could be some carnage.

Instead of annoying poppy ringtones for your phone, you will get annoying poppy 'ringtones' for your car :)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Vested interests...

Found this article on http://news.com.au/ :
http://finance.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,11444980%255E462,00.html

Hidden in the middle of the article is this little gem:
"The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, an industry body formed to lobby for better copyright protection, has even warned terrorists may be using fake goods in order to raise untraceable funds."

These guys must use the same advisors as the US Government. Put the spin on terrorism without any evidence and try and get some sympathy for your cause. To use a Slashotism (http://www.slashdot.org/), here is a possible business plan:
  1. Use terrorist spin to garner sympathy
  2. ???
  3. Profit!!!
I did some looking around the Internation AntiCounterfeiting Coalition website (http://www.iacc.org/), damn it is ugly, and found a document they titled 'Facts on Fakes' (http://www.iacc.org/teampublish/uploads/factsupdated.pdf). Here are some 'facts' they put forward:
  • The Business Software Alliance estimates the cost of software piracy alone to be
    about $12 billion a year.
    - Figures like thses always cause some concern. They seem to count every single copy of software made, when in most cases the people using the copied software would not have actually paid for the software anyway.
  • Counterfeit automobile parts, like brake pads, cost the auto industry alone over
    $12 billion dollars in lost sales. If these losses were eliminated the auto industry could
    hire 200,000 additional workers.
    - They could hire those 200,000 workers, or they could hire 50,000 more workers, pay them less and force them to work more hours. Alterntively, those 200,000 workers could already be in jobs making the counterfeit items. Plus I bet the $12 billion is calculated on Toyota OEM pricing structures.
Have a look at the member website list (http://www.iacc.org/relatedlinks/list_sites.cfm?CategoryID=15), they are mostly companies you have never heard of with the notable exception of Novell. But if you look into some of the companies in the list you that there are some big companies backing this Coalition. For example, 'The Imaging Supplies Coalition' is a coalition on Canon, Brother, Lexmark, Oki, Xerox, Epson and Sharp. Lexmark don't just go after counterfeit printer cartridges, they go after refilled printer cartridges too (http://news.com.com/Lexmark+invokes+DMCA+in+toner+suit/2100-1023_3-979791.html). This was done under the DMCA, something Australia could be getting under the US Free Trade Agreement that we have been dropped into by our mate Jackboot Johnny.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Stupidity...

Have a read of these:
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=2&aid=74144
http://www.wsbtv.com/station/3908760/detail.html
http://www.wcpo.com/news/2004/local/11/11/ryan_mckee.html

How stupid is this? TV stations in the US aren't showing 'Saving Private Ryan' on Veteran's Day due to concerns over the graphic content in the film, and it isn't the violence they are worried about. It is the language.

'Saving Private Ryan' has some amazingly realistic battle scenes, Spielberg did a great job. But how can they accurately portray a battle without the use of profane words? What are the soldiers going to do when they get shot or a shell lands nearby, say 'Oh bother, that really hurts!'?

But you have to remember that this is the same country who gets their knickers in a knot over a quick shot of an exposed breast, yet produce some of the most violent and graphic movies around. Something just doesn't add up...

Bigotry hiding behind patriotism...

I received the following email in my hotmail inbox earlier this week...

-- Start Quote --
This is not meant to offend but is food for thought

After hearing that the state of SA changed its opinion and let a Muslim woman have her picture on her driver's license with her face covered this is an editorial written by an Australian citizen, published in a newspaper. He did quite a job, didn't he?

Read on, please!

Qte: IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT.

I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity.

As Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our National Motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like 'A Fair Go,' then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.

We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from.

This is OUR COUNTRY, Our Land, and Our Lifestyle, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our Flag, Our Pledge, Our National Motto, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, "THE RIGHT TO LEAVE".

I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please.

No matter how many times you receive it please forward it to all you know.


-- End Quote --

I have a few issues with this...

"In God We Trust" is not the Australian national motto, it is the motto for the USA. Easy to tell as it is all over their currency.

The whole story is a load of crap. It did not happen in SA, it happened in Alabama, USA: http://www.whnt19.com/Global/story.asp?S=1613245&nav=1VPtKMua

Also, it makes reference to a 'Pledge', we don't have a pledge, again it is a USian construct.

These inconsistencies got me searching on Google and I found this: http://www.beerlovercam.com/youmayleaveAmerica.htm

It looks like some person has taken an American patriotic email and tried to fit to Australia.

Australia is a nation of immigrants, ever since Australia was first settled our culture has continually changed, from the first convicts, the Irish settlers, the chinese gold miners and the post war European immigration program. Our culture is not static and we are the richer for it.

Every successive wave of immigrants has been condemned in turn for not assimilating, retaining too much of their former way of life, not learning the language, creating ghettos, forming gangs, upping the crime rate - and paid out for being different with an avalanche of prejudice and name calling - micks, reffos, wogs, dagos, gooks, slant eyes and now towel heads and camel fuckers. Come ten years and their culture is absorbed a little and becomes part of our own and the children become good little Aussies. A few years ago it was the Asians who were going to be the downfall of this nation - now the Chinese, Vietnamese and Thais are no longer the threat - just the Muslims.

The scary part is that there are people that believe this and actively pursue what it esposes.

Frist p0st...

My new blog...

I have been meaning to create this for a while as I need a place to put my thoughts regarding issues of the day, emails I receive and other general stuff. Some thoughts may be inflammatory, some insightful (I hope) and some just plain odd. I hope I can get you thinking at least...

Comments are appreciated as I always like a good discussion.