Of football, filtering and bongs

It’s a small paper today so I’ll be focusing on one of my ongoing projects: Slashing the hell out of my bookmarks folder until it’s not bursting at the sames. Amazingly enough though, Safari 4 hasn’t given me any problems when it comes to opening 300 tabs at the same time. Granted they’re all news stories but all it takes is one Flash ad to bring the whole thing down.

Now if the San Francisco 49ers’ Patrick Willis brings down the San Diego Superchargers’ LaDanian Tomlinson after a 5-yard gain, does the NFL own that tackle? Not the video of it, but the statistics behind it. Yahoo is arguing names and stats aren’t copyrightable and they don’t need to pay licensing fees to the NFL.

By the way, if you want to find out when new posts show up on the site, don’t forget to follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/penlinks. I promise I won’t compare the boldness of my posts to the Iranian election protests,which might put me out of the running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Speaking of Iran, it’s interesting to take a look back at what different sites were doing to help fan the flames of protest and the creativity of citizens to skip around the filters meant to squash dissent and poke holes in the Iranian firewall.

But by far my favorite story from the Iranian election has to be Channel Two playing a “Lord of the Rings” marathon to quell protests. Yes, nothing about a movie where the little man literally climbs up and spits in the oppressive eye of authority to stop people from protesting. Someone obviously saw the run time and not the movie.

Now for a Bing break, including 25 searches to try, sex blocking, and why Microsoft rebranded its search product.

And we’re back to the grand world of censoring the Internet with the grandaddy of suppressing dissent and information — China. The great holder of U.S. debt has decided that pornographic material shouldn’t be accessible from Google. In related news, Mr. Burns has decided to separate himself from germs.

Am I being too hard on China? Maybe, but then again when you’re looking to install filtering software whose code has been leaked, has had its security ripped by numerous experts and even has an exploit ready in the wild, you deserve it.

Rumors about the iPhone hitting China are heating up as Apple seems to be closer to an official release, but until then, there’s always a good fake.

And finally, even though Father’s Day is well past us,gift guides are still fun to look at, especially when there’s a $1,000 swiss army knife and a bong building book involved.

Want to get an HP dv7 for under $700 in a Best Buy? Good luck

I got a kick out of seeing a Microsoft executive touting his claim that Apple’s legal team insisted they pull down some of its laptop hunter ads because Apple dropped some of its prices.

Why? Because I haven’t had a chance to enjoy tearing some poor argument to pieces in awhile.

As the author of this story was one of the few to point out, this came from a Microsoft executive – the COO, no less – so that should automatically raise red flags, but I’ll gloss past that point.

These unscripted ads as Microsoft calls them — which is adspeak for “hire actors, give them a scenario and let them make it up as they go along — have suffered from a few flaws along the way. It starts with Lauren entering and exiting an Apple Store in the blink of an eye (note the bald guy in the dark jacket who is walking in both shots) and extends to the latest ads.

This new set of actors walks into a Best Buy – as the rest of the hunters do – and eventually walk out with an HP – as the rest of the hunters do. Sorta nice of Microsoft to give Best Buy and HP a plug like that in every ad I guess.

But those two pieces of information are very valuable, especially when you search for the HP dv7 that’s under $700 at a Best Buy.

You know, the one that doesn’t exist:

Now you might be saying, “Kyle you’re a moron, this laptop is clearly under $700.” But to that I say look again and check the fine print. This is an Outlet Only model meaning good luck finding it anywhere other than online.

In other words, they magically walked into a Best Buy, found a refurbished laptop that just happened to be cheap enough and was ready for them.

Or they just ran an ad promoting a machine you can’t walk into a Best Buy and get.

Apple releases WWDC videos for a price

Did you miss Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this year and wish there was a way to watch hours upon hours of video for a fraction of the cost of actually attending the event?

Well developers need not worry about missing anything if they’re willing to fork out a few hundred dollars.

Apple has released the videos of both the Mac and iPhone sessions on its developer site.

Now I can’t program worth a damn and I’m trying to learn this stuff piece by piece as I can, so I won’t be taking advantage of the discounted complete collection of 126 sessions for $499, but I’m sure someone can make use of it.

Now if you’re just trying to dip your toe into iPhone development, check out this podcast of lessons from Stanford. It was filmed before 3.0 released, but it covers a lot of what you’ll need to know.

Could there be light at the end of the BS tunnel?

Two massively flawed rulings are hopefully on their way to being remedied.

First the MySpace Mom Lori Drew is free after her convictions for bullying a 13-year-old girl who eventually committed suicide were tossed. While her actions were horrific and reprehensible, the law was not applied properly in this case. They tried to use laws along the lines of protecting people from being hacked to the creation of a fictitious profile on MySpace.

On top of this, Jammie Thomas is asking for a retrial in the case that led to her being slammed with a $1.92 million verdict from the RIAA. For more about this case, read my previous post on the matter.

Uncle Sam wants you for broadband penetration

As I mentioned previously, a chance for broadband to expand and grow in the Yuba-Sutter area may be on its way as the FCC is getting a plan together to dole out the funds.

Who’s deciding where this money goes? It could be you.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, known the world over for its syllable smuggling efforts, is looking for qualified volunteers to help determine how and where the money will be spent.

Want to know if you’ve got the stuff they want? Here’s a pdf explaining it.

Are you using Pandora? If not then good news, you can still try it

One of the single greatest sites/applications available will live to see another day at the end of a lengthy battle over royalties.

Pandora radio is, as it says on its site, “a new kind of radio – stations that play only music you like.” You start with an artist you like and it’ll create a station filled with similar music. It’s a great way to learn about new music or get exposed to old stuff you missed.

Of course now that Pandora has its deal, it’s looking for radio stations to pay their fair share.

It’s time to connect with the world and compete

We had a meeting today at the paper to discuss a bunch of interesting and important things we want to try and do that are off in the not-too distant future that I’m not going to say what it is right now since it’s just a jumping off point for what popped into my head during the meeting.

I love a good run-on sentence. Keeps readers on their toes.

When we were discussing all sorts of fun and exciting things that we could be doing on our Web site, I had a thought that slammed the brakes on everything I was thinking of:


Not “oh my god our site is so popular that we’ll never be able to pay for everything” bandwidth worries. More along the lines of “quite a few people around here are still reliant on dialup,”

Part of me wants to ask how many readers of this blog are still on a dialup connection or what’s your Internet speed, but if you’re using dialup, odds are you aren’t reading this. If you’re an exception to the rule, I’d be more than happy to hear about it.

Even if the people who are most affected by this can’t read this post, I’m still worried about the connectedness of the Yuba-Sutter area. I’ve had great difficulty finding anything beyond 1.5 megabits per second that doesn’t cost $40+ a month.

I’m excited to see the FCC getting behind some form of improving rural Internet access since from an economic perspective, it’s about as valuable as electricity was during the Great Depression and the rural electrification project. The ability to learn and communicate on the Web and connect businesses and buyers is incredibly important nowadays and will only continue to become more important. Web skills are very much marketable and a good startup could be a boon to a local economy.

But without the proper Internet speeds, or even access in some cases, this can’t happen. People can’t see what’s out there, they can’t learn about the newest trends in terms of programming and potentially bringing in business from all over the world.

I recall in a recent story where Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, saying something that struck me as interesting:

“It is a global economy.”

Now while Logue was referring to the cost to do business in California, he was at least in the ballpark with a reality that’s becoming more evident in the area. It’s a global economy and the region is falling behind. In an era where businesses and individuals are becoming more and more connected, the Yuba-Sutter area is falling further behind. It’s like the world is using cell phones while we’re barely getting past the rotary phone.

Now is the time for the area to begin catching up though. The FCC rolled out a roadmap for the broadband stimulus plan and it’s time for your voices to be heard. The story above has links to make public comment to the FCC about the process.

Change doesn’t happen when you do nothing. Change comes from action.

North Korea called the government too many times

When I read about various portions of the U.S. government getting whacked in a cyber attack over the holiday weekend, I imagined some sort of sophisticated Mission Impossible setup taking advantage of the smaller staff sizes to infiltrate the system.

What I didn’t see was Kim Jong Il essentially leading an army of elephants to charge the sites.

Of all the rudimentary things, I didn’t think so much of the government, including the Federal Trade Commission and Treasury Department, was vulnerable to a distributed denial of service attack.

A what, you say?

A DDoS (pronounced DEE dos if you want to sound cool) shuts down a Web site the old fashioned way — by jamming it with so much traffic the servers can’t respond and buckle under the load.

Everyone has experienced a form of this at home or at work. Unless you have call waiting, if you’re on the phone, anybody who calls will get a busy signal. If someone wanted to keep you from getting a call, they could just spam the redial button on their end and keep your phone ringing off the hook.

Now imagine a phone system with thousands of lines and an operator for each one. It’d be pretty tough to get a busy signal, right? Not unless there were thousands upon thousands of people calling at the same time in a coordinated effort to shut down the system.

But that couldn’t happen online, right?

Not unless you had a botnet handy. For those of you who forgot about what a botnet is, it’s an army of zombie computers created by some form of malware infecting the system. They’re all waiting for one command. In this case it was “go to the same site at the same time,” which overloaded the servers. Very rudimentary and brute force.

Remember to keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up to date to protect your computer from becoming a part of a botnet.

July 2009 Appeal-Democrat pages

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