Slashdot | Spaf's Farewell, Ten Years Later. A great excerpt:

In closing, I'd like to repost my 3 axioms of Usenet. I originally posted these in 1987 and 1988. In my opinion as a semi-pro curmudgeon, I think they've aged well:

Axiom #1: "The Usenet is not the real world. The Usenet usually does not even resemble the real world."
Corollary #1: "Attempts to change the real world by altering the structure of the Usenet is an attempt to work sympathetic magic -- electronic voodoo."
Corollary #2: "Arguing about the significance of newsgroup names and their relation to the way people really think is equivalent to arguing whether it is better to read tea leaves or chicken entrails to divine the future."

Axiom #2: "Ability to type on a computer terminal is no guarantee of sanity, intelligence, or common sense."
Corollary #3: "An infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards could produce something like Usenet."
Corollary #4: "They could do a better job of it."

Axiom #3:"Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) applies to Usenet."
Corollary #5: "In an unmoderated newsgroup, no one can agree on what constitutes the 10%."
Corollary #6: "Nothing guarantees that the 10% isn't crap, too."

Bits from the news...

Howard's $1bn shock treatment for Medicare - Maybe I'm reading this the wrong way, but it looks like Medicare will become the "second class" health care for pensioners and the ubiquitous "battlers"; while doctors will charge whatever they like for non-concession patients. So everyone loses. I do think it's odd that they're acting like doctors still bulk bill.... Most of the doctors in my area stopped bulk billing a while ago; and they all gave the same excuse: "it got too expensive for us to bulk bill" (I think that means they weren't actively making money...). Some doctors are standing firm (GP sticks to his oath of universal care -; but they're the minority.

Slashdot | Calling Software Reliability Into Question - It appears a debate is finally starting amongst everyday (read: non-geek) people about vendor liability for buggy software. Some opponents of the liability push are unsurprising: Says the story, 'Microsoft contends that setting [reliability] standards could stifle innovation' Or to put it more clearly: MS actively discourages bugfixing, in favour of creating the next version nobody asked for. This is why you can't get rid of that stupid paperclip; and why you have to restart your windows machine twice a day.

It'll be interesting to see if this story gets any legs in mainstream media. Geeks have been pointing out these problems for years now; it's time the mainstream broke the story :]

Ahh, progress. Just what we all need: an mp3 player housed in a Kalashnikov clip. Yep, that's right, an AK-47 ammunition clip used as a case for an mp3 player. With gratuitous bikini girl shots, a la Sexy Girls With Sexy Guns (Clive James fans will remember that one, no doubt... actually I think D-gen might have pulled the piss out of it too...).

New Driver Down.

Before our latest war, I was totally planning on moving to Afghanistan. Because we invaded it, kicked the Taliban's ass, and, just like we promised, we rebuilt the entire country and turned it into a shining example of American goodwill and Western democratic ideals. We totally finished the job, just like we promised, because we're the Greatest Nation on Earth, and totally true to our word. Women can play rock 'n' roll music in the streets now, so it's gotta be a great place to be, right? New roads, modern hospitals, well-stocked grocery stores, the Internet in every classroom. That was the deal we made. We liberated the poor, embattled Afghani people from the evil Taliban terrorists and ushered in a new era of the modern Afghanistan, where everyone eats, everyone votes, and everyone lives in nice condos in the complete safety and peace that we enjoy over here in America. Right? That's what they sold us, right? Right. So I'm thinking Kabul has gotta be like Miami by now, or at least like Tucson or Santa Fe.

The Register | The self-healing, self-hopping landmine. Whooee, those good folks at DARPA have been working on making land mines that can sense a breach in the minefield; then have the separate landmines move around to recreate the full minefield. Human rights campaigners give up in disgust (well ok, not really).

The Register | Why we love the Iraqi information minister Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf ... will go down in history as one of the most entertaining mouthpieces of tyranny ever to grace the international stage. You've seen the soundgrabs, now view the webpage!

The Register | Vibrating Nokia self-pleasure. Well, after so many jokes it just had to happen. - USA: Jail sentence and fine for mod chip retailer [I]t's hard not to see this as a massively harsh and disproportionate punishment for a man whose crime is selling devices that allow people to modify their own equipment.

See also: - We'll pull Xbox out of Australia - Ballmer...

Sales of the Xbox may be discontinued in Australia unless demands from Microsoft for changes to the country's laws concerning mod chips are met, according to MS chief executive Steve Ballmer, speaking late last week at the launch of a new mobile computing device. The threat came as a result of the acquittal earlier this year of a man who had been brought up on charges of selling mod chips for the PS2. The acquittal was based on the fact that the chip could be legitimately used to play imported games on the hardware - an area which the Australian government is currently scrutinising closely, concerned that region lock-outs on consoles may be illegally denying Australian consumers access to fairly priced products from abroad.

You see, it's supposed to be legal to modify equipment you own. There's no crime in that. It is only a crime if you pirate a game. Think of it this way: owning a gun is not a crime, shooting someone is a crime. Besides that, there are legitimate reasons to modify game consoles; region coding, wanting to use them as Linux machines, wanting to develop your own software/games for the console.

Then if all that's got you down, go read BBspot - Aliens Use DMCA to Sue Air Force Over UFOs. Teehee.

Awake after a long, dark night - War on Iraq -

After the looting has come the soul searching. Jubilant Iraqis had not even beheaded the statue of Saddam Hussein in Karamanah Square before they started asking questions of Washington that revealed a deep distrust of America's intentions.


"An end to the war is good. But what happens now? Is the US a genuine friend of Iraq or does it just want our oil? Anyone coming to Iraq is better than Saddam - he finished off our money and he killed four million Iraqis. But what does the US want?"


"That is why I'm happy today. Saddam has proved my theory - he is not the historic leader he claims to be; he is a nothing and now he is like a rat. He could not defend Baghdad because he is a coward who was only ever interested in the power."

Slashdot | MTU President Peeved At RIAA The president of Michigan Technological University has responded to the RIAA suit against one of his students, accusing the RIAA of encouraging cooperation with universities but then bypassing those procedures with the current suit. Curtis Tompkins says, 'I am very disappointed that the RIAA decided to take this action in this manner. As a fully cooperating site, we would have expected the courtesy of being notified early and allowing us to take action following established procedures, instead of allowing it to get to the point of lawsuits and publicity.'

I'd be pissed as well. You should be able to expect *something* in return for full cooperation. Oops, that's right; we're dealing with the record industry.

Alternative Interfaces for Accessibility (Alertbox April 2003). Points out that disabled access requirements are very similar to requirements of new web devices, like WAP phones, PDAs, audio browsers for cars, etc. If Jakob was just slightly more cynical he'd be right on the money - he doesn't publically accept that companies are greedy, developers are lazy and disabled users have only a small voice as a lobby group (compared with the non-disabled user/customer base). Build once, display anywhere is the best result we can aim for at this stage; since you can sell that concept to the people paying the bill. It's very hard to sell the idea of paying more money for a very small segment of the market - it's poor ROI.

Two pieces of (free) software you need:

  1. Ad-aware, which detects and removes spyware from your computer.
  2. ZoneAlarm, a nice personal firewall for your net connection. You really need this if you have broadband, especially if you leave your computer online.

The Register | Al Jazeera and the Net - free speech, but don't say that The Internet is different, however, in that despite it being, allegedly, the New Frontier, the ultimate medium for free speech, it's also eminently suited to the suppression of free speech. Sure, anybody can set up a web site and say whatever they like, but only if not too many people read what they say, and only if they're careful about what it is they say. Say something controversial that enough people don't like, and you'll get attacked.

Librarians Use Shredder to Show Opposition to New F.B.I. Powers Among provisions that have angered librarians nationwide is one that allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review certain business records of people under suspicion, which has been interpreted to include the borrowing or purchase of books and the use of the Internet at libraries, bookstores and cafes. The FBI doesn't scare librarians. They also know the value of their rights vs. alarmist reactions to September 11 - "I am more terrified of having my First Amendment rights to information and free speech infringed than I am by the kind of terrorist acts that have come down so far," Ms. Turner said. There's something in that for all of us...

BBC NEWS | Technology | Wired oven keeps food cool Imagine being able to leave a meal in the fridge for the day but then send a command over the internet to cook it so that it is ready when you get home. A US company called Tonight's Menu Intelligent Ovens (TMIO) has come up with a refrigerated microwave that can be controlled over the net or by mobile phone. Such a simple idea, you'd wonder why it has taken this long... :) The downside is the price - all this stuff we could all have right now is being priced way out of our reach. It's the eternal problem of new tech - you have to make your money back off the early adopters; then drag the price down as much as you can until it reaches mass market pricing.

Australian IT - SMEs freak over site slight (James Riley Michael Sainsbury, APRIL 04, 2003). More on Alston's $4million website, naturally he flat out refuses to take responsibility: "The Australian's decision to lead the article with an inflammatory headline, and run a page one pointer to this article suggesting culpability on my part, is a grotesque distortion of the facts," Senator Alston said. ...what facts would they be? The fact that over $4,000,000 got spent on a website which had a $600,000? Or the fact that the job went to multinational giant Fujitsu, instead of an Australian company?

As a sidenote - the Australian should know better than to use a headline like this one; which has an unexplained acronym, "SME". You should never assume that people know what an acronym means. You learn that in your first journo course/subject.

I've switched over to reverse chronological ordering within days, so the latest post will always be at the top.

Like anyone cares :P

Slashdot | RIAA Moves Against College-Network Fileswapping / The Register | RIAA attacks the future of America. CD sales tipped to fall. Sorry, that's just my prediction. Hell, it's taken years for me to purchase half the stuff I discovered on my old college network. Some of I can't even buy any more; like George's first album. If I hadn't had access to those MP3s, there's no way I would have known to buy the albums. Just the RIAA proving they're greedy shitheads, steadfastly shooting themselves in the foot. To quote The Register: So it would seem, once again, that the pirates are actually doing more to promote music than the recording industry itself.