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30 December 2000

Free Internet fall down, go boom
It appears that totally free Internet access is now a thing of the past. Both NetZero and Bluelight will be limited the number of hours users can access the Internet for free each month. In the case of NetZero, after you've hit 40 hours, you'll begin getting charged. According to Bluelight, once you reach 25 hours of usage, you will have to wait until the 1st of the next month before you can log on again using their system. Bluelight also plans on providing a different type of service beginning some time in Feburary 2001.

Cracking's new era
eWeek has a story on how cracking (they say hacking) could escalate in the coming year beyond the typical web site cracks we have seen of late.

My biggest peeve with an article like this is their interchangeable usage of the words "hack" and "crack." They are two totally separate things! I encourage you to check out these definitions from the New Hacker's Dictionary (better known as the Jargon File): hacker and cracker. It boils down to this: all crackers can be said to be hackers, but not all hackers are crackers. So when you mean to say "cracker," say "cracker," not "hacker." Capishe?

New attack on digital privacy...er, piracy...
Think Hollywood can't run the world when it wants? Be sure to read this article from the San Jose Mercury News on a coalition between Hollywood and computer storage manufacturers on building copy protections into future hard drives and other storage mediums. This has far-reaching implications way beyond copyright protection, and is a Very Bad Idea.

How are you supposed to make legitimate backups of your data, even after you have paid for that content which is copyright-protected? I personally have a large CD collection, some of which I have converted to MP3 so I can take it with me without having to lug around two dozen CDs. I rarely use Napster or any of its ilk, and when I do it is to download MP3s of music I already own because my broadband connection downloads the music faster than I rip it from my own CD.

So I own this music, but if I were to copy it to one of these proposed hard drives, how would I prove that I already own those CDs? How am I supposed to make a backup of my legitimate MP3 collection to my tape backup drive, or burn the equivalent of two dozen music CDs to one MP3 CD?

Of course, the MPAA loves this idea, as they slowly move to digital distribution of movies. For those with short memories, they rolled out the same piracy arguments when VCRs came on the scene. Yet despite rampant movie piracy, more abroad than here in the States, more people go to the movies each year than the last. This despite the fact that there is a Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/something video rental on every street corner and a VCR is about as common as a TV in every household.

John Gilmore of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great quote: "We've been keeping an eye on technologies that are designed to remove capabilities from the people who buy the machines -- particularly when it's removing a capability not for the benefit of the buyer . . . but for the benefit of some third party, like a movie company." Gilmore goes on to say that copyright laws were "never meant to extend a movie studio's reach into a consumer's hard drive." Amen.

This whole scheme is being propogated on an unsuspecting and largely-ignorant computer-using public by the name CPRM, or Content Protection for Recordable Media. The Register has a great article which lays out the CPRM for you and goes into great detail. A worthwhile read on understanding why users need to voice their opposition to this now.

More Privacy Woes
This article demonstrates the need to stay informed on the latest privacy issues, whether you are constantly online, such as I, or if you are a sometime computer user, such as my parents or my grandmother. You may think that because you are on a 56K dialup connection and that you never use Napster or purchase products online that you have no digital privacy concerns, but you are wrong.

What about electronic workplace surveillance? Do you use email? Then you have to worry about the FBI getting their way and implementing their Carnivore surveillance technology with the nation's ISPs. All in the name of catching the bad guys, and they would never read email that wasn't directly related to their case, of course. Yeah. Right. Where have we heard that before?

What about your medical records? Do you know about the legislation before the new Congress that would control how and to whom your private medical records could be digitally transferred? How about when you do purchase something online? Should Amazon.com have the right to sell your customer data to Toys R Us? Should financial institutions be allowed combine your information, currently housed under different divisions, and potentially share that with third parties?

You need to say informed on these issues. Frequent the EFF site and those of other privacy organizations. Write your Congressman. Encourage discussion about these topics among your friends and family. Don't think that just because you come to my site and send email to grandma that you have nothing to worry about.

Privacy Policy
With all this talk on privacy, I thought I would take this moment to mention privacy policies. A lot of sites have privacy policies, and link to them from their main page (though the link can often be small and hidden at the bottom or some other obscure location).

digitalpembroke.com does not have a privacy policy. I do not collect user data. I personally do not care what browser you use, what operating system your browser is working on, what region the country or world you are in. The only data that gets collected by visitors to this site is your web browser info, and that is solely because my hosting service automatically does it. That's it. And to be honest, I hardly ever look at those statistics. It simply does not concern me. This site is for my family and my friends, and whomever else gets here from wherever. Most of all, it is for me. I am not serving up ad impressions on every page to make money; I have a couple of affiliate businesses that I may make $50 off of over an entire year if I'm lucky. This is not about money for me.

But it is about money for others. Read those privacy policies carefully. Privacy was the biggest reason I switched from Amazon.com to Barnes & Noble, and why I chose them as my affiliate. Educate yourself on what companies are doing with your personal information, and educate yourself on privacy issues in general. Make sure your business stays your business.

NY Times Looks at MHz Myth
Finally! Someone explains how it is impossible to find a reliable, consistent way to measure computer speed. This is why consumers have been brainwashed into comparing clock speed as if it is miles per hour.

29 December 2000

Macworld Expo SF Countdown
Only 11 days until another Macworld Expo I will not be attending...

Megahertz, Schmegahertz
For the clueless who believe that raw numbers tell the whole story, I encourage you to read this story and study the graphs showing how a Pentium 4 1.4 GHz system stacks up against an Athlon 1 GHz and a Power Mac G4 running dual 500 MHz processors. -- Thanks, Damien!

Earth Lights
If you are one of those folks who hasn't yet received a billion emails either containing the image or pointing you to it, check out this composite satellite shot of all of the lights of Earth at night. -- Thanks, Zannah!

Another tip o' the hat to Zannah for the link to the Spork FAQ. For you tasteless heathens who have no idea what a spork -- only the best eating utensil ever invented -- is, this is a must read.

28 December 2000

The Return of Super Mario
With his name and number spotlighted on the arena exterior in Pittsburgh, The Magnificent One made a triumphant return to the NHL last night. A short opening ceremony "unretired" his number, the banner bearing his name and jersey number 66 lowered from the rafters of Mellon Arena.

It did not take long for Mario Lemieux to make his presence felt once again.

Thirty-three seconds into the game, Lemieux got his first point of the second half of his career, notching an assist on a goal by linemate and team captain, Jaromir Jagr. Super Mario would go on to a three-point night, garnering another assist and a spectacular goal.

Watching the game, it was amazing to see that Mario hasn't lost a step in his three-plus-year absence from the game. He played with passion, he played with hunger, and he did exactly what he said he wanted to do: help his team win. I can't wait to see him -- live, thanks to my wonderful wife -- when he plays the Stars here in Dallas next month.

Hitting Hunger
Another charity click site, Hits Against Hunger, allows you to click and make a $1 donation per day toward fighting hunger. Add it to your charity click bookmarks/favorites. You can always get to it from this site as well.

Another tool is Hunger Search, a site that allows you to use multiple search engines, including the increasingly-popular Google, and that search engine will then donate so much money per search. So the next time you need to look up why cows have eight stomachs, or if roaches can sneeze, use Hunger Search.

Finally, while it is not a click-and-help site, America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization. From their site, you can find out how to make donations, as well as locate local food banks run by Second Harvest.

Another Reason to Disband the IRS
As if you really needed another one...

The Associated Press is reporting that the IRS "is examining how to apply laws restricting the political, commercial and lobbying activities of tax-exempt organizations to the groups' Internet Web sites. Some groups fear the move could lead to excessive government intrusion and stifle free speech." Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader, is quoted as saying, "The idea of turning the tax man into a net cop would have a chilling effect on free speech on the Internet."

I can understand how the Infernal Revenue Service would want to update its code to reflect the changing times, particularly with regards to the Internet and web sites, yet at the same time there is a sense of dread for any government body's looming presence over areas of protected speech.

And when is the United States government going to realize that Internet regulation is a pipe dream? What is to stop groups and/or companies from moving their sites, and possibly even their official "residences," offshore? To use a Star Wars reference -- and those of you who know me know I like to use them as often as I can -- allow me to quote Princess Leia from the original film: "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

27 December 2000

After Holiday Sales
Now you can take part in those after-holiday sales without even leaving home. Be sure to stop by our affiliates to help support digitalpembroke.com. Barnes & Noble is having a killer sale on practically everything being 50% off.

Teachers Without Borders
Teachers Without Borders is an organization worthy of your consideration. If you are a teacher looking for an exciting opportunity to help educate and unite people abroad, or if you would simply like to help by making a donation of money or equipment, any help is appreciated. They are currently seeking Pentium-class PCs for a Internet-connected lab at Mar Elias College in Galilee. The project unites Christians, Jews, and Moslems in the peaceful coexistence of education.

Flat-panels Increasingly Popular
According to Bloomberg News, the sales of flat-panel displays are on the rise, as prices are falling due to a glut in the market. This is good news, as increasing popularity will drive down the price more as demand increases and more companies move into the market.

Maybe in another year or so I can replace my bulky, circa 1991, Radius 21" CRT with an Apple Cinema Display...

25 December 2000

Merry Christmas!
Happy Birthday, Jesus! The Messiah, our Lord and Savior!

24 December 2000

December Archives
Since the front page was getting rather long, I decided to cut off half the month and send it off to the archives.

21 December 2000

I Knew There Was A Good Reason to Vote Bush

Hard Times for M$?
It seems the slowdown in the economy has even caught up to software giant Microsoft, as M$ President Steve Ballmer told the troops in a recent memo to work harder and spend less. Ok, so it's not a direct quote, but does raise an eyebrow.

Microsoft wants standards?!?
Is it just me, or is Bill Gates the wrong person to be whining to the FCC about open standards for instant messaging? Can Bill not stomach the fact that another company has a monopoly in an area he overlooked?

Come off it, Bill. You already own the desktop OS market, the word processor market, the spreadsheet market, the presentation graphics market, the web browser market, the email client market, the set-top web box market (WebTV)...

Can you not be satisfied?

Memo to the FCC:The day you force AOL to open up instant messaging standards, make sure you do the same to Microsoft for Windows APIs and Office file formats.

20 December 2000

Someone Gets It
Amidst all of the industry pundits predicting Apple's demise -- again -- Neil McAllister of the San Francisco Gate has a reasoned piece with a decidedly different attitude. -- Thanks, Macintouch!

Charles Haddad has a wonderful article on Business Week Online, retorting a previous article on that site that was full of inaccurate facts and disinformation.

More Goron
A fitting end for this chapter of Al Gore's legacy of prevarication and usurpation...

"As my father once said, 'No matter how hard the loss, defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.'" -- Albert Gore in his concession speech, 13 December 2000

"Defeat may serve as well as victory, to shake the soul and let the glory out." -- Edwin Markham, poet, c. 1898 -- from The Federalist

19 December 2000

New Font
Yes, yes, I have changed the font of the digitalpembroke title again...

While I adore Dan Bailey's Blockhead, some folks have complained that it is too hard to read. And I have this fantastic font based upon one Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the "Eaglerock" project in 1922. It is called Eaglefeather, and is part of the Frank Lloyd Wright family of fonts at P22 Type Foundry. So the change has been made...

Quote of the Week
Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and other liberals, take note: "The eyes of mankind will be upon you to see whether the Government, which is now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of more virtue, moral and political. We may look up to Armies for our Defense, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored." -- Samuel Adams

15 December 2000

Rogue Spear
MacSoft is gearing up for the Mac release of Rogue Spear, the sequel to the immensely popular game Rainbox Six, based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name. Inside Mac Games got a peek at the latest beta and has a report.

I missed the boat with the original Rainbow Six. I have already downloaded the demo of Rogue Spear, and hope to get some playing in over the holidays...

Internet Privacy
Too many people take their privacy on the Internet for granted. However, with just a few simple lines of code, web site builders can tell which browser you are using, and what version, which operating system your computer is running, and your IP address, which they can theoretically use to track down at least the region you are in. In some cases, where an IP number range is held by say, your employer, they can tell your exact address.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The proliferation of "cookie" files by web sites has led to the tracking of individual web usage. They can tell where you've been, and therefore, what you have been reading.

Now, a group of researchers are working on a new Internet protocol which would enable network anonymity for Web users. This is a good thing. Do not fall for the opponents of this group who claim that such a protocol would only allow malicious attackers to hide their location. This is about freedom, and the right you have to go where you please on the Net without a third-party -- government, corporation, or otherwise -- monitoring you.

14 December 2000

Nice try, Al

After losing the national election by the first count in Florida, then the second, automatically-required count, then a third hand recount, and in some cases, fourth and fifth recounts, and after filing lawsuits on any and every situation where a court might declare him President, Al Gore has graciously conceded.

I would just like to note a couple of things:

FACT: There are no uncounted votes in the state of Florida. Every vote cast was counted, at least twice. A number of votes were rejected by the vote tabulation machines during the initial count and madated-by-law recount. The reasons for these rejections are many and varied: dimpled chads, hanging chads, no vote for President at all. These rejections occur all over the country for a variety of reasons.

More than 120,000 ballots were rejected in Cook County, Illinois alone this election. But you barely heard a whisper about that in the mainstream media, did you? They did not even bother to count the absentee ballots in California, because Gore had won that state by such a wide margin that the absentees would not even matter, even if they were all for Bush. So much for "making sure each vote is counted, every voice is heard."

The simple fact is this: Al Gore could simply not accept -- pathologically so -- that he lost Florida, especially by such a slender margin. That is the entire reason he has put this country through the past five weeks.

FACT: Al Gore has never, ever, led in the vote in Florida, even after he went to court and had the rules changed. Never. Ever.

FACT: It is Al Gore who has been the divider throughout this entire election, and especially during his contesting of the election. While his concession speech last night was gracious for the most part, his whining for George W. Bush to work to unify the country is simply preposterous. Why is Al Gore not calling, by name, for Jesse Jackson and Tom Daschle to work on unifying the country behind President-elect Bush? We shall see over the next week or so if his call to his supporters in general to accept Bush as President is taken to heart.

FACT: George W. Bush was elected President; he did not "become" President as Gore stated in his concession speech. Bush received more votes in Florida; he wins that state's Electoral College votes and thus is elected President. He was not handed the Presidency by the courts; that remedy is what Gore was seeking.

It is now time to move on. We have a duly-elected President-elect who shall be inaugurated in January. Let us stop the whining and start working to make our country greater...

November News
I have finally moved all of the November news off to the archive.

8 December 2000

New Charity Click
The "Insert Charity Name Here" Sites continue to grow, this time with The Land Mine Site. Donations provide care for victims of land mines around the world, who are usually anything but soldiers.

This charity hits a little close to home for me, as I have a good friend who is with an Explosives and Ordnance Disposal unit of the U.S. Army in Kosovo. One of Will's duties is the disarmament of unexploded land mines when they are found. Luckily, Will's tour is up very soon, if not already (hey, Will, are you home yet?) and I hope to hear from him for the holidays.

So head on over to The Land Mine Site and take a couple of seconds to click on the donate button. You click, and site sponsors make the donations, so be sure to stop by and click once a day. I am also adding this to the Charity Click list in the column on the right.

digitalpembroke is pleased to be an affiliate of OneShare.com. At OneShare.com, you can order individual corporate stock certificates, and even get them matted and framed. They offer a number of companies, including Apple Computer, the Walt Disney Holding Company, Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Palm, and many more.

I picked up an Apple stock certificate earlier in the year, and I couldn't be happier with it. These certificates make great gift items, and if you hurry, you can still order one in time for Christmas. They even have special matte/frame jobs for kids, so you can invest in your little one's future with a stock in Disney or Toys R Us.

Braille greetings
Have blind friends or family you would like to send holiday greetings to? Then check out Hot Braille and send away!

Return of the Magnificent One?
He had the potential to be bigger than Wayne Gretzky, and is the one of the players the Great One says he looks up to. Nagging back problems and a battle with Hodgekins' Disease, which he won, cut his career short, however.

But Mario Lemieux may be headed back to the ice, if the various news reports are to be believed. The current owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins will resign from the Board of Governors (so he doesn't have to vote on league issues) to return to the ice playing on the team he spent his entire NHL career with.

I had the pleasure of seeing Super Mario play in his last regular season game in Boston in 1997. While he didn't score - to the dismay of the Boston fans, who were cheering him on to score on their own team - he had an awesome assist, and played to his own high standards. It would be great to see him in uniform again, especially now since I live in a hockey town and could potentially see him once more.

Hope for the Hunkless
A recent study conducted by Dr. Harrison Pope, Jr. of Harvard Medical School shows that most women prefer men with average builds. Women in the study were shown photographs of men with average muscles and men with 30 pounds of bulging muscles. More women preferred the less-muscled man's physique. -- from Bottom Line Personal

6 December 2000

Buy AAPL now!
Apple announced yesterday that they would actually be taking a loss this quarter -- it's first one in more than three years. Please do not listen to morons like Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Fortuna, who is fond of making his own predictions about what Apple should do, then downgrading their stock when Apple has the gall to not listen to him.

This time around, Fortuna is chiming in with a familiar tune:

"Apple's real opportunity here is to become a major player in what will likely be a high-growth market for devices and appliances to access the web," he said. "That's the Apple bull case for next year."

This is the same old song Fortuna drags out every quarter, regardless of Apple's earnings. What Stevie Wonderless does not seem to realize is that Apple has been successful with a "device to access the web" for the past three years. It's called the iMac, you buffoon, and half of all iMac buyers are either first-time computer buyers or switched from the Wintel platform.

Apple would much rather leave the handheld and web-only device market to third parties, such as Palm, and concentrate on systems. The personal computer industry may be slowing down, but it is certainly not dead, nor will it be any time soon.

Fortuna also conveniently forgets that despite Apple's fall from grace in the education market, it is as strong as ever, if not more so, in the industry that Apple co-founded with Adobe: publishing. I am not simply talking about desktop publishing, but digital publishing as well. According to PC Data and third-party industry statisticians, Macs are making serious inroads into the digital publishing realm as well. Could it be that the same people who often perform the desktop publishing find themselves publishing for the web as well?

Apple's stock could fall as little as $10 a share today. BUY IT! People discounted Apple once (well, several times) before, and my advice to buy it at $13 a share four years ago as well. Then Apple hit more than $100 a share and announced a stock split three years later. It will happen again. Do not buy into the short-sightedness of so many of the market's analysts. Think long-term, and snatch up a good deal. I know I will.

5 December 2000

Charity Clicks
I have dumped the graphics and just posted links to facilitate faster page downloads. Remember, clicking costs you nothing but a few moments time, as site sponsors make the donations based on number of clicks per day...

What is it that the Chinese know that we do not about - and I am not making this up - Horny Goat Weed? Thanks for the laugh, Rich!

Entourage bug
For my Mac-using friends who insist on using a Microsoft mail client, specifically the new Entourage client from Office 2001, be aware of this bug, brought to you courtesy of Greg Tetrault, one of my ATPM mates:

"Open a message you have received. Select some of the message text or place the text cursor within some text. Press the delete key. Oops, your entire e-mail message disappears! You will find it in the Deleted Items folder.

"In Outlook Express, the same actions would bring up an alert window about needing to choose the menu item 'Edit Message.' It certainly wouldn't delete your entire message without warning. (In both applications I left unchecked the preference item about being notified before deleting messages.)"

November news
I have schlepped some of the November news items off to the news archives.

3 December 2000

Happy Birthday to me...
Happy Birthday to me...Happy Birthday to me...Happy Birthday to me. :)

2 December 2000

It's only one month, but...
Could the economy now be showing the effects of its slowdown? Personal incomes dipped ever so slightly in the month of October. Thanks, Rob!

America, the Stupid
When did this dumbing down of America happen? When did Americans become such idiots, especially on the road?

We have three four-way-stop intersections within less than half a mile from our house, all of which are getting light systems put in. There has been no increase in traffic through these intersections. There is no increased demand on the roads at these intersections that I have seen. But there have been numerous accidents at these intersections, though as far as I know, none deadly.

Simply put, people do not know how to navigate a four-way-stop intersection. They seem to think that once they stop, they can then go, which is simply not the case.

So because we have become stupid and selfish, we now have to slow down traffic in all directions even more through the use of lights...



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