30 August 2001
More DMCA Stupidity
While not the first casualty of the insipid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Dmitry Sklyarov is the first person to ever be prosecuted under the act.
You will recall that Dmitry wrote a software program that would allow others to read Adobe's eBook format, including disabled persons who could use Dmitry's software to have the eBook read to them by their computer, something Adobe's own eBook Reader software fails to do. Sklyarov did so while in Russia, and was only arrested when he arrived in the United States to deliver a speech. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has more information on the case.
The Little Ninja
Sunset Studios has put out what has to be some of the best Flash animation ever in Ninjai. The story is up to five chapters right now, with more forthcoming. The studio does all of its own animation, sound effects, and soundtrack work. Future plans, beyond more chapters being released, include a soundtrack release and a feature film. Be warned, there is violence not suitable for small children, and some cursing in Chapter 2, but it is well worth it. You will need Flash 5, and it helps to have a broadband connection, as each chapter is 3 to 7 MB. —Thanks, Lee!
Intel joins Apple
Intel has dumped HomeRF in favor of 802.11b, the standard used by Apple in its Airport wireless networking products. Intel had previously marketed 802.11b products to corporate customers, but pushed HomeRF to consumers.
29 August 2001
Puppy Mill Rescue
I read about Puppy Mill Rescue in a recent issue of Small Dog Electronics' Kibbles & Bytes newsletter. Puppy Mill Rescue is an Internet-based, non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing pups from mills and placing them in adoptive homes. They have several pages of dogs available for adoption, including some with special needs. You do not have to adopt a dog to help Puppy Mill Rescue; financial donations are greatly appreciated. WARNING: Some of the material may not be for the weak of heart or stomach; do not click on the pictures link on their web site. Kelly, this means you!
We at digitalpembroke.com deplore puppy mills, and we make a point of not shopping at pet stores that sell dogs and cats. Despite what they may claim, you can bet most, if not all, of them, especially the big regional and national chains, use puppy and kitty mills. This is one reason why we shop at and have as our affiliate PetsMart. Instead of selling dogs and cats, each PetsMart works with local shelters and SPCAs to hold adoption days on the weekends. At least once a month, you can pretty much bet there is an adoption day going on at your local PetsMart.
Your best options for dog or cat ownership are to either go with a certified, reputable breeder, or adopt through your local animal shelter or SPCA. Most breed organizations have a web site, easily found via Google or Yahoo!, with links to breeders nationwide.
The Humane Society has more information on puppy mills.
Face-Recognition Ban in Florida city?
Unfortunately, that city is not Tampa, where a 36-camera system is already in place and accusing innocent people. However, Councilwoman Gwen Chandler-Thompson of Jacksonville, Florida, has introduced legislation to prevent a similar system from ever being used in her city. Our hats are off to such a sensible politician concerned with individual privacy rights.
Want Your Identity Stolen?
Speaking of personal privacy, if you really want to become a victim of identity theft, check out this handy list courtesy of Michael S. Hyatt, author of Invasion of Privacy: How To Protect Yourself in the Digital Age.
27 August 2001
Roll Your Own DSL
"Well maybe DSL isn't available in your area. Maybe you want a significantly cheaper alternative to a T-1 line. Or just maybe you and the kid down the block want to play networked games at warp speed." Robert X. Cringely tells you how to get a 2 MBps dry copper pair out of your local telco. —Thanks, Ric!
Knowing what a Star Wars fan I am, my pal Brian pointed me to the Dueling Dialogue web site and Dialogue Duel No. 55. Basically, DD submits a picture and a "house" caption. Then the duel is opened for a week and readers submit alternative captions. The top three are chosen at the end of the week. Fun stuff!
Do Not Call Me!
Like most people, I cannot stand telemarketers, especially their usually awful timing. Now you can learn if your state has a Do Not Call law, and how you can take advantage of it. debris.com also has awesomely insightful info.
If you would like to take a more personal approach, you can use a free piece of software called Enigma to walk you through exactly how to speak with a telemarketer. There is also a version for Mac users.
22 August 2001
Podium CoolPad review
You can check out my review of the Road Tools' Podium CoolPad. If you own a notebook computer, this is a must-have item.
Microsoft breaks QuickTime
In case you haven't heard, Microsoft has made the monopolistic decision (surprise!) to stop supporting Netscape-style plug-ins in favor of its own ActiveX technology in its browser architecture. For now, this affects only users of Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 and 6.0 for Windows. If you are using the QuickTime plug-in, and have upgraded to one of these browser versions, you will find that your QuickTime plug-in no longer works.
Coming to the rescue, Apple has released a fix and a tutorial for the QuickTime ActiveX control.
15 August 2001
digitalpembroke.com is 1!
Hard to believe, but I missed my own site's birthday. As of 1 August 2001, digitalpembroke.com has been live and online for a full year. Now, to judge how many people actually read this silly thing, email us some birthday cheer! :)
NASA flying high
The Helios, NASA's experimental flying wing, has broken two altitude records in less than twenty-four hours. Soaring past 80,200 feet, set by a smaller version of the Helios in 1998, then past 85,068 feet, set by a jet-powered aircraft in 1976. Aeronautical junkies will note that the jet record was likely set by Lockheed's SR-71.
NASA has been working with private venture SkyTower on the project, which hopes to become a low-cost alternative to launching telecommunications satellites. The coolest quote from the ZDNet article has to be: "Helios' 'brain' is an Apple Computer Macintosh computer that would guide it back to Earth when necessary."
14 August 2001
Dave Wilson writes to us from the year 2021 with a dark, though humorous, tale of the immediate future of computing, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.
July's news have been schlepped off to the archives.
10 August 2001
Big Brother Screws Up
Remember the blurbs about the 36 security cameras the city of Tampa, Florida set up in Ybor City, the heart of its nightlife? Well, they still haven't caught a single felon, sexual predator, or runaway, their intended use, but they have managed to defame a totally innocent man.
Rob Milliron was falsely identified by an Oklahoman woman as her ex-husband after his image, captured by Ybor City cameras during his lunch break there, was used by local police to demonstrate the system to the media. The St. Petersburg Times then used Milliron's captured image in a news story it ran. The Times then sold the image to U.S. News and World Report, which ran a story of its own with the line, "You Can't Hide Those Lying Eyes in Tampa," under Milliron's image.
All of this done without Milliron's consent.
The unidentified woman (do we not have the right to know our accuser in this country?) saw the image of Milliron and told police in Oklahoma he was her ex-husband wanted for child neglect. Milliron was then questioned by no less than three police officers at his job site on Monday, who allowed him to go home after they determined he was not the guy they were looking for. Milliron has never been married, has never had children, and has never been to Oklahoma.
Milliron has hired an attorney, and while I try not to buy into the sue-happy sickness that has infected this country, I hope he sues the pants off of U.S. News, the Times, the Tampa police, and the city itself. He has been falsely accused and publicly defamed. It is time for the cameras to come down.
1 August 2001
Proving once again that they just don't get it, authorities have jailed an innocent programmer under the nefarious Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Dmitri Sklyarov is a Russian who coded a program in Russia that would disable any restrictions publishers may place on the Adobe eBook electronic book format. One possible restriction is that the eBook reader would be unable to read the text of the eBook to a reader, a severe disadvantage to the visually impaired.
In Russia, it is perfectly legal for Sklyarov to write the program, and it is legal for his employer to sell the application on the Internet. However, when the Russian set foot on American soil to deliver a presentation on the eBook's encryption in Las Vegas, he was subsequently arrested. Lawrence Lessig's commentary is right on the money. (use our NYT registration info: digitalpembroke/linus)
Is your government spying on you?
Perhaps if you are a known Mob figure...
Nicodemo S. Scarfo Jr. is on trial, well, for lots of things, but the crux of the investigation of his activities centered on high-tech spying that was done without a wiretap order signed by a judge. I am not defending Mr. Scarfo, but even criminals have rights. Rights which may not be lost all at once, but little by little, down the slippery slope...
Key Chain Cards
Do you have one of those little discount cards from the supermarket or some other retailer on your key chain? You may think twice about keeping it after reading about this massive privacy gaff from one retailer...
Personally, I avoid these discount cards. If a retailer wants my business, it should not expect me to give up an ounce of privacy to obtain discounts on its products. And I have found that more often than not, the "discount" price is the regular price at other stores. A prime example of this here in the D/FW metroplex is Albertson's versus Tom Thumb, both grocers for those of you who may not have either in your area. Tom Thumb does the discount card thing, Albertson's does not. Grocery bills from each are about the same, once the discount card at Tom Thumb is factored in. So why shop there then? So Tom Thumb can track how often I buy frozen green beans each year? It's none of their business!
So I make a point of avoiding Tom Thumb, and other such retailers, if it can be helped at all. (Tom Thumb does seem to be the only grocer around that carries the Kleenex Juniors boxes of tissues, which are a perfect fit in my Jeep.) I encourage you to do the same, and make sure you let the managers of those stores know why you are not shopping there any more!