Posts about thoughts (old posts, page 1)

Alaska could learn from Massachusetts

This post was originally posted at on 24 January 2006.

In reference to this Slashdot articleabout Diebold electronic voting data availability.

Adopting Open voting/documententation standards would curtail these sorts of issues, without the FUD of forcing constituents to switch… However, I think that blaming it on Diebold is only a scape-goat to hide corruption in the voting system, so it's likely to remain…

Can't trust the papers…

This post was originally published at on 1 November 2005

In reference to this Slashdot article about the Internet killing newspapers

Why does "mainstream media" think blogging is such a huge hit? It's not that Internet is immediate, or that anyone can do it (which has big down-sides as well as it's egalitarian advantages). It is simply that people everywhere are fed-up with WWII-era propagandists telling us what to believe and have started researching it for themselves.

This is the Information Revolution: the Revolution is greatly improved access to the information. People are more educated now than they were 50 or even 20 years ago and can make informed judgements. They don't need some "journalist" to do it for them. This is quite appart form the fact that today's journalism is extremely poor compared to yester-year's.

I don't buy papers because I know that I can't trust them to bring me news in an unbiased, non-politically or commercially influenced fashion, or full of Tabloid rubbish like British newspapers. I accept the risk that the news I learn via the Net can be from the "uninformed" masses and mitigate this by using many sources so I can judge for myself where the "truth" lies.

I won't even read over people's shoulders anymore.

For at least the last 10 years, newspapers have been good for only one thing: the ink used in newspaper presses is fantastic for removing streaks and smudges from my computer monitor!

“Get into the habbit of reading source docs”

This post was originally published at on 27 October 2005

The great thing about Linux is that all the definitive documentation (including the source code) comes with the OS.

(Slashdot quote)

You know, I'm finding that for a lot of the “beginner” linux distro's, this is not true. Yes, the source is available but it doesn't come with the OS.

Granted, not everyone wants to fill their harddrives with source tarballs or SRPMs on the off chance they might want to read them, but only a few distro's I know come with source, and those are not necessarily for noob's. the main example that comes to mind is Gentoo (since it's a “ports”-like distribution). This is not to wax lyrical on the benefits of Gentoo for learning Linux (Gentoo has many weaknesses in that regard too, among its inappropriateness as a general OS for noob's), just that it's the only one I've found where the source comes with the OS.

Other distro's with source “available” are Debian and Fedora (on extra CDs you have to download, and Fedora locks the source into SRPMs which is another learning hurdle to leap over, especially bad if all you want to do is read the source comments, or documentation not included in the binary RPM). It makes me feel like a 2nd-class citizen, that the source is somehow “open” but you have to know the secret handshake to get at it.

All of this, just to say: while reading source docs is a laudable habbit and I share your wish to encourage it, I can also see how it is difficult for most Linux noob's to form this habbit so long as the source doesn't actually come with the OS, which for a great many distro's it does not. The extra steps to download (and in many cases extract from SRPMs) the source are probably enough of a deterrent to forming this habit.

unfortunately, hacker habbits require hacker motivation :-(

“Cyber” security

This post was originally published at on 10 October 2005

In reference to this Slashdot article about U.S. Cybersecurity being about as effectual as FEMA's handling of hurricane Katrina

I wish USA would stop calling it “cyber security”. It's just stupid. The word “cyber” was coined by AI researchers for the ability of computers to interact with humans, either via a human interface, or by acting human. Later, it turned more towards embedding computers into humans as a form of prosthetic (a la “$6 millon man”) or to build composite computer-humans (cyborg).

Lately I think the US “cyber security” push has one of these aims:

  • To control cyborg's access to the net?
  • To curb “cyberterrorism” — the attack on America by those cyborgs?
  • To promote safe use of teledildonics within federal agencies, a sort of “Monica Lewinsky” protocol aimed at avoiding future political embarrasments.

Obviously, the most likely of these is the third aim… ;-)

RIAA verses the world, and a return to Music Guilds?

This post was originally published at on 31 August 2005

In reference to this Slashdot article about RIAA lawsuits

Seems that RIAA are intent on sueing more 12-year old girls for sharing music... it sickens me.

I am not sure what to do to protest (beyond what seems to be happening already — consumers aren't buying today's crap, and RIAA/ARIA/MPAA etc are just blaming it on the Net anyway). I am considering what would happen if lots of fans started writing directly to their favourite artists and asking them these questions:

  • why do you have this deal with your distributor EMI? I can't play your
  • why don't you consider putting sample tracks on your web site? For that matter, why don't you deal directly with Apple, or start your own pay-per-download site for your songs? I'm sure heaps of fans like me will buy them, and you could get a much larger cut per track than Warner Bros is giving you

Of course, there are costs to running a web site also. But I wonder if what may happen eventually is a return to music guilds, where a guild runs the site, member groups contribute content and all proffit goes to the members. It would probably be a good business to start, atracting new groups like the “Idol” TV shows do now. Shame I have hopeless business sense though.

meta-data standards

This post was originally published at on 27 August 2005

In reference to this Slashdot article about Internet meta-data standards

I would like to see more web sites adopt meta-data labelling standards and their presence be a factor in the ranking of the page. If more sensible pages had been indexed, Library-Of-Congress style (or whichever standard is adopted) then we would get many more relevant hits.

We would also get many people hacking the index by putting popular but irelevant meta-data into their pages… I haven't figured this one out yet. Perhaps if the meta-data is combined with some sort of AI that can read the page and judge if the tags are for-real, or just to seed the search engine… no this is far-out-future innovation stuff.