Friday, December 31, 2004

Birds eye view of Tsunami disaster

Satellite overview of Kalutara

The BBC has a good overview taken by satellite of the damage the tsunami caused to the tourist reort town of Kalutara, Sri Lanka. Before and after pictures that really show the damage.

For some even more impressive pictures check out digitalglobe.

Exeem "Successor" to Suprnova Announced

Super Nova

It looks like suprnova is going to get a successor. The following was announced by Sloncek on irc.suprnova.org:

First, Exeem really isn't an extension of Suprnova as the hype might have you believe: the connection between the two seems more marketing than anything else. Sloncek has been hired to promote their product as the heir apparent to his popular website, but his involvement really seems to be almost entirely PR. It'll work obviously: my headline on this story mentions Suprnova, and so will hundreds of websites around the world in the coming days. "Yet another p2p app" would not create anywhere near the waves that "Successor to Suprnova Announced" will. I hope that people judge exeem by its own merits and not by its (clever) marketing.

Second, Exeem is pretty much what was rumored earlier: a blending of the tracker, the BitTorrent client, and decentralized indexing. It's Windows only. It's in beta now, and will be out at some indeterminate date in the future. It also has a rating and commenting system which appears to be somewhat rudimentary. It's unclear to me if the rating system will be as useless as other attempts, and I think this is the critical thing: Suprnova succeeded because the content available on it was verified and trustworthy. Suprnova was as much the work of a few dozen editors as it was a list of torrent URLs. So far no other p2p system has achieved that level of accuracy. Exeem supports magnet sites which is a start, but not exactly p2p either. And did I mention that it's adware?

Third, there's a mystery company. Someone is paying Sloncek. He won't say who, but there's a history in the p2p world of secretive development. Since Exeem is to be adware, someday it will have a billing address, which means the legal issues faced by predecessors like Napster and Kazaa will be forthcoming, which is of course why we have a mystery company that Sloncek won't talk about in the first place. We definitely haven't heard the last of this.

Personally I was hoping for more: source code and cross platform compatibility never hurts. These are the things that made BitTorrent a huge success. I guess I was hoping for a new protocol instead of just another Kazaa. I guess I was hoping for a monumental leap, and instead Exeem to be a more incremental step. I'm sure we'll learn more in the coming weeks.

Tallest building in the world opened

Taipei 101

Seems that the tallest building in the world has opened it's doors in Taiwan.

At 101 floors and 508 meters the 'Taipei 101', as it's known pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved even more. At 1.3 billion euro's I hope they get their moneys worth.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

100 years after Einstein

Einstein

Seeing that it's 100 years now since Einsteins "miracle year" The Economist has written a piece outlining some of his theories and what he accomplished. An excerpt:


IN THE span of 18 months, Isaac Newton invented calculus, constructed a theory of optics, explained how gravity works and discovered his laws of motion. As a result, 1665 and the early months of 1666 are termed his annus mirabilis. It was a sustained sprint of intellectual achievement that no one thought could ever be equalled. But in a span of a few years just before 1900, it all began to unravel. One phenomenon after another was discovered which could not be explained by the laws of classical physics. The theories of Newton, and of James Clerk Maxwell who followed him in the mid-19th century by crafting a more comprehensive account of electromagnetism, were in trouble.

Then, in 1905, a young patent clerk named Albert Einstein found the way forward. In five remarkable papers, he showed that atoms are real (it was still controversial at the time), presented his special theory of relativity, and put quantum theory on its feet. It was a different achievement from Newton's year, but Einstein's annus mirabilis was no less remarkable. He did not, like Newton, have to invent entirely new forms of mathematics. However, he had to revise notions of space and time fundamentally. And unlike Newton, who did not publish his results for nearly 20 years, so obsessed was he with secrecy and working out the details, Einstein released his papers one after another, as a fusillade of ideas.


Well worth a read if like me you're a layman when it comes to physics.

You have the right to unpimp your ride

West Coast Customs

Seems like the fellas from West Coast Customs (pimp my ride) got fined $16.000 by the goverment for safety violations.

I wonder however the goverment found out.... More info here. For those of you who don't like registering, here is the full article:

=========

Custom Rims, Yes; TV in Steering Wheel, No
By DANNY HAKIM

Published: December 30, 2004

DETROIT, Dec. 29 - Pimp the ride, pay the price.

In the first of what is expected to be a broader crackdown against auto customization shops, federal regulators on Wednesday imposed a $16,000 fine on West Coast Customs, the auto body shop affiliated with "Pimp My Ride," an MTV reality show that makes over rundown cars.

The shop, which has customized sport utility vehicles for customers like Shaquille O'Neal, was fined for removing front air bags in cars to install video screens in steering wheels.

Another celebrity shop, Unique Autosports in Uniondale, N.Y., was fined $5,000 for a similar offense. A reality show featuring the shop, to be called "Unique Whips," will be shown on the Speed Channel, a cable automotive channel, in February.

Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the fines were the first of what was expected to be a larger crackdown on car customizers who were disabling safety equipment.

Regulators have noticed that front-seat video screens have become one offshoot of the car customization boom. While the safety agency does not have jurisdiction over installing video monitors in cars and trucks after they have been manufactured, they do have jurisdiction over tampering with safety equipment such as air bags.

"We're actively pursuing several others," Mr. Tyson said, "It's not only a bad idea to disable the air bag, it's against the law. Air bags are there for a purpose, to protect you. If you have a DVD player there instead of an air bag, it's not going to protect you in a crash."

Calls to West Coast Customs, of Inglewood, Calif., were not returned. Will Castro, the proprietor of Unique Autosports, said, "I have no comment."

Mr. Castro has done customization work for stars ranging from the entertainer Jennifer Lopez to the rap artist Eminem, according to a recent news release from the Speed Channel.

Employees of West Coast Customs are regularly featured on "Pimp My Ride" performing automotive miracle work, and seven of them are profiled on MTV's Web site.

Most states have laws against watching televisions in the front seat, though many of the laws have not been updated to include DVD players and other new technologies. New York law prohibits cars from being "equipped with a television receiving set within view of the operator." But an updated California law that took effect in January bans most video functions in the front seat, including DVD players, with the exception of such technologies as navigation systems.

Automakers often install video screens for passengers in the front seat, but only features like navigation systems or stereos can typically be operated while the car is in motion, though the proliferation of electronic controls in luxury cars is also the focus of scrutiny by safety researchers.

"We know that all kinds of distractions can be a problem, but it would be hard to think of something more distracting than watching a video while you're driving," said Anne McCartt, a vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a group financed by car insurers. "It's a really worrisome trend."

She said swapping an air bag for a video screen was even more disturbing.

"It's taking out a safety device that has proven lifesaving benefits," Ms. McCartt said, "and replacing it with something that could clearly be distracting and potentially dangerous."

In recent years, car customization has becoming a booming business, and TV shows chronicling cool cars and car makeovers have proliferated, including "Overhaulin' " on TLC and "Ride with Funkmaster Flex" on Spike TV. Over the last decade, annual spending on after-market car parts and accessories has doubled to $28.9 billion a year, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association.

"Pimp My Ride" on MTV - with its host, Alvin Joiner, a Detroit native better known as the rapper Xzibit - is a feel-good show in which 18- to 22-year-olds are invited to submit their dilapidated cars or trucks for a major retrofit by West Coast Customs.

In one episode, for instance, a sad-looking 1989 Ford Mustang was remade to include a photo booth built into the passenger side with a camera in the visor and a printer in the center armrest.

Safety investigators, however, were drawn to West Coast Customs not by something that occurred on the MTV program but by an advertisement on the shop's Web site.

"There's nothing wrong with customization," said Mr. Tyson, of the traffic agency, "as long as you don't disable safety equipment."

The kings salary open for all to see

King Mohammed

The BBC reports that in an unprecedented move the king of Morocco's salary has been published. It seems that the guy earns a modest $45.000 / month. That's less than a typical Fortune 500 CEO earns and certainly less than some other Arab kings & sheikhs earn.

This is a very bold move for an Arab head of state, although I don't see this catching on. Certain sheikhs would probably be posting numbers in the hundreds of millions......

BTW It must also be noted that the royal court spend a whopping $250 million annually, although the article doesn't state what on.

Put Firefox on speed

Firefox Logo

Seems that the fellows at forevergeek.com have written a little tutorial to make Firefox faster. It basically comes down to setting it to pre-emptively cache more data while you're surfing:


1.Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:

network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

2. Alter the entries as follows:

Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true”

Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true”

Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.

3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0”. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

If you’re using a broadband connection you’ll load pages MUCH faster now!






Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The BitTorrent Effect

Bram Cohen

Wired has written an interesting piece on Bram Cohen and his baby (for those who don't know, it's bittorrent). An excerpt:


"That was a bad move," Bram Cohen tells me. We're huddled over a table in his Bellevue, Washington, house playing a board game called Amazons. Cohen picked it up two weeks ago and has already mastered it. The 29-year-old programmer consumes logic puzzles at the same rate most of us buy magazines. Behind his desk he keeps an enormous plastic bin filled with dozens of Rubik's Cube-style twisting gewgaws that he periodically scrambles and solves throughout the day. Cohen says he loves Amazons, a cross between chess and the Japanese game Go, because it is pure strategy. Players take turns dropping more and more tokens on a grid, trying to box in their opponent. As I ponder my next move, Cohen studies the board, his jet-black hair hanging in front of his face, and tells me his philosophy of the perfect game."The best strategy games are the ones where you put a piece down and it stays there for the whole game," he explains. "You say, OK, I'm staking out this area. But you can't always figure out if that's going to work for you or against you. You just have to wait and see. You might be right, might be wrong." It's only later, when I look over these words in my notes, that I realize he could just as easily be talking about his life.

Bram Cohen is the creator of BitTorrent, one of the most successful peer-to-peer programs ever. BitTorrent lets users quickly upload and download enormous amounts of data, files that are hundreds or thousands of times bigger than a single MP3. Analysts at CacheLogic, an Internet-traffic analysis firm in Cambridge, England, report that BitTorrent traffic accounts for more than one-third of all data sent across the Internet. Cohen showed his code to the world at a hacker conference in 2002, as a free, open source project aimed at geeks who need a cheap way to swap Linux software online. But the real audience turns out to be TV and movie fanatics. It takes hours to download a ripped episode of Alias or Monk off Kazaa, but BitTorrent can do it in minutes. As a result, more than 20 million people have downloaded the BitTorrent application. If any one of them misses their favorite TV show, no worries. Surely someone has posted it as a "torrent." As for movies, if you can find it at Blockbuster, you can probably find it online somewhere - and use BitTorrent to suck it down.

Apple to release El Cheapo PC

Macintosh Classic

Looks like apple is about to announce a new bare bones G4-based iMac at Macworld Expo on January 11.

The thing is expected to retail for $499 and is expected to include the following:

  • 1.25 GHz G4 processor
  • DvI / VGA Output
  • 40 - 80 GB hard drive
  • 256MB of RAM
  • USB 2.0
  • FireWire 400
  • 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
  • 56K V.92 modem
  • AirPort Extreme support


The new Mac is said to be incredibly small and will be housed in a flat enclosure with a height similar to the 1.73 inches of Apple's Xserve. Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor.

For more info check out thinksecret.com. This thing has "new unix workstation" written all over it ;-)

Air CIA

Gulfstream V

Seems that the CIA is using a special plane to move "special" suspects to human rights loving countries all over the world.

Seeing as the Washington Post has an annoying registration process and not all of you have bugmenot, here follows the article:

========

Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A01

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers.

The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records.

Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation.

The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.

As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism of the practice has grown. Human rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture.

The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a presidential directive dating to the Clinton administration, which the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed. The CIA declined to comment for this article.

"Our policymakers would never confront the issue," said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who has been involved with renditions and supports the practice. "We would say, 'Where do you want us to take these people?' The mind-set of the bureaucracy was, 'Let someone else do the dirty work.' "

The story of the Gulfstream V offers a rare glimpse into the CIA's secret operations, a world that current and former CIA officers said should not have been so easy to document.

Not only have the plane's movements been tracked around the world, but the on-paper officers of Premier Executive Transport Services are also connected to a larger roster of false identities.

Each of the officers of Premier Executive is linked in public records to one of five post office box numbers in Arlington, Oakton, Chevy Chase and the District. A total of 325 names are registered to the five post office boxes.

An extensive database search of a sample of 44 of those names turned up none of the information that usually emerges in such a search: no previous addresses, no past or current telephone numbers, no business or corporate records. In addition, although most names were attached to dates of birth in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, all were given Social Security numbers between 1998 and 2003.

The Washington Post showed its research to the CIA, including a chart connecting Premier Executive's officers, the post office boxes, the 325 names, the recent Social Security numbers and an entity called Executive Support OFC. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

According to former CIA operatives experienced in using "proprietary," or front, companies, the CIA likely used, or intended to use, some of the 325 names to hide other activities, the nature of which could not be learned. The former operatives also noted that the agency devotes more effort to producing cover identities for its operatives in the field, which are supposed to stand up under scrutiny, than to hiding its ownership of a plane.

The CIA's plane secret began to unravel less than six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On Oct. 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with the News in Islamabad, broke a story asserting that Pakistani intelligence officers had handed over to U.S. authorities a Yemeni microbiologist, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

The report noted that an aircraft bearing tail number N379P, and parked in a remote area of a little-used terminal at the Karachi airport, had whisked Mohammed away about 2:40 a.m. Oct. 23. The tail number was also obtained by The Post's correspondent in Pakistan but not published.

The News article ricocheted among spy-hunters and Web bloggers as a curiosity for those interested in divining the mechanics of the new U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

At 7:54:04 p.m. Oct. 26, the News article was posted on FreeRepublic.com, which bills itself as "a conservative news forum."

Thirteen minutes later, a chat-room participant posted the plane's registered owners: Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., of 339 Washington St., Dedham, Mass.

"Sounds like a nice generic name," one blogger wrote in response. "Kind of like Air America" -- a reference to the CIA's secret civilian airlines that flew supplies, food and personnel into Southeast Asia, including Laos, during the Vietnam War.

Eight weeks later, on Dec. 18, 2001, American-accented men wearing hoods and working with special Swedish security police brought two Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked at night at Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Swedish officials and airport personnel interviewed by Swedish television's "Cold Facts" program. The account was confirmed independently by The Post. The plane's tail number: N379P.

Wearing red overalls and bound with handcuffs and leg irons, the men, who had applied for political asylum in Sweden, were flown to Cairo, according to Swedish officials and documents. Ahmed Agiza was convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of terrorism-related charges; Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say they were tortured while in Egyptian custody. Sweden has opened an investigation into the decision to allow them to be rendered.

A month later, in January 2002, a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V landed at Jakarta's military airport. According to Indonesian officials, the plane carried away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian traveling on a Pakistani passport and suspected of being an al Qaeda operative who had worked with shoe bomber suspect Richard C. Reid. Without a hearing, he was flown to Egypt. His status and whereabouts are unknown. The plane's tail number was not noted, but the CIA is believed to have only one of the expensive jets.

Over the past year, the Gulfstream V's flights have been tracked by plane spotters standing at the end of runways with high-powered binoculars and cameras to record the flights of military and private aircraft.

These hobbyists list their findings on specialized Web pages. According to them, since October 2001 the plane has landed in Islamabad; Karachi; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Baghdad; Kuwait City; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rabat, Morocco. It has stopped frequently at Dulles International Airport, at Jordan's military airport in Amman and at airports in Frankfurt, Germany; Glasglow, Scotland, and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Premier Executive Transport Services was incorporated in Delaware by the Prentice-Hall Corporation System Inc. on Jan. 10, 1994. On Jan. 23, 1996, Dean Plakias, a lawyer with Hill & Plakias in Dedham, filed incorporation papers with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts listing the company's president as Bryan P. Dyess.

According to public documents, Premier Executive ordered a new Gulfstream V in 1998. It was delivered in November 1999 with tail number N581GA, and reregistered for unknown reasons on March 2000 with a new tail number, N379P. It began flights in June 2000, and changed the tail number again in December 2003.

Plakias did not return several telephone messages seeking comment. He told the Boston Globe recently that he simply filed the required paperwork. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the affairs of the client business, mainly for reasons I don't know," he told the Globe. Asked whether the company exists, Plakias responded: "Millions of companies are set up in Massachusetts that are just paper companies."

A lawyer in Washington, whose name is listed on a 1996 IRS form on record at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office in Massachusetts -- and whose name is whited out on some copies of the forms -- hung up the phone last week when asked about the company.

Three weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the plane, complete with a new tail number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Ore., according to FAA records. Its registered agent in Portland, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls.

Like the officers at Premier Executive, Bayard's sole listed corporate officer, Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone history. Unlike Premier's officers, Bayard's name does not appear in any other public records.

========

It still baffles me how civilizied countries can allow their citizens to be whisked off like this. I also wonder how many more phatom planes will turn up in the upcoming months...

You break it, you pay for it

No Logo

Naomi Klein writes an interesting overview on how Iraq it getting royally screwed over by Bush and chums. An excerpt:


S o it turns out Pottery Barn doesn't even have a rule that says, "You break it, you own it." According to a company spokesperson, "in the rare instance that something is broken in the store, it's written off as a loss." Yet the nonexistent policy of a store selling $80 corkscrews continues to wield more influence in the United States than the Geneva Conventions and the US Army's Law of Land Warfare combined. As Bob Woodward has noted, Colin Powell invoked "the Pottery Barn rule" before the invasion, while John Kerry pledged his allegiance to it during the first presidential debate. And the imaginary rule is still the favored blunt instrument with which to whack anyone who dares to suggest that the time has come to withdraw troops from Iraq: Sure the war is a disaster, the argument goes, but we can't stop now--you break it, you own it.


It really gets to me how foreign workers are getting massive paychecks to do jobs that iraqis are more than qualified to do. Pay an iraqi $5000 a month for driving a truck and he can feed his whole neighbourhood!

Just shows once again that the vile and corrupt powers that be are in this for one reason, and one reason only (hint: it isn't love or goodwill to all men).....

Brunei full of peeping toms

Peeping Tom

Bruneidirect.com reports:


Brunei Travellers Beware Of Hidden Cameras In Hotel
By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Sarawak - Local travellers have advised prospective holidaymakers going to
Sarawak not to stay in budget hotels as "they may be secretly filmed by
hidden cameras in their rooms".

The finding that hidden cameras were installed in budget hotels in Sarawak
was made by the police there when they crippled a syndicate that sold
pornographic movies of hotel customers engaging in sexual intercourse.

The Borneo Post reported that police in Sarawak believed that some of the
locally-made VCDs were filmed by secret video cameras installed in some
budget hotel rooms in Sarawak without the knowledge of the hotel clients.

However, the police there said they have yet to identify the irresponsible
budget hotels.

Local travellers said unwitting victims from this country could also be
blackmailed by the syndicate though such case was not reported yet.

Anyone who might have been secretly filmed should contact the police in
Sarawak.

Last Wednesday, the Sarawak police smashed a Kuching-based syndicate
believed to be behind the production and distribution of pornographic VCDs
in the state.

Four persons, including the ringleader were arrested and 1,100 pornographic
titles were seized.

Initial investigation showed that the syndicate not only distributed
foreign pornographic VCDs but also used hidden cameras to secretly film
guests having sex in budget hotels in Sarawak.

Yesterday, the Borneo Post reported that police have advised some 100
budget hotels in Sarawak to ensure that there are no hidden cameras in
their rooms.

Police said that budget hotels in Sarawak needed to beef up security in
order to maintain the state's tourism image. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin


This just shows, you NEVER get something for nothing in this world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Amazon has record sales

Money

Iwon writes:


SEATTLE (AP) - Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) on Monday said sales of consumer electronics surpassed book sales for the first time and was its largest sales category over the Thanksgiving weekend, launching the online retailer's busiest holiday selling season in 10 years.

The company also said it set a single-day sales record during the period with more than 2.8 million units, or 32 items per second, ordered across the globe.

Visitor traffic peaked at an estimated 700,000 users during a 60-minute period, according to Amazon.com's Holiday Shoppers tracking program.

Its top-selling electronics products include Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL)'s iPod media player, DVD players and digital cameras, Amazon.com said.

The retailer added that customers bought more than 1 million items from its music category during each of two back-to-back weeks this month. Its jewelry and watch segment sold more than one watch per minute since Nov. 25.

In premarket activity, shares of Amazon.com gained 2.4 percent, or 95 cents, to $39.88 on the Nasdaq.


Quite impressive. This just shows how profitable e-commerce can be.

Great moments in microprocessor history

Potato Chips

IBM Developerworks has a nice overview of the history of microprocessors from the 1960s till the present day. An excerpt:


The evolution of the modern microprocessor is one of many surprising twists and turns. Who invented the first micro? Who had the first 32-bit single-chip design? You might be surprised at the answers. This article shows the defining decisions that brought the contemporary microprocessor to its present-day configuration.

Looks like someone's spent WAY too much time playing Galaxian

Gary Whelan

The BBC writes:


A man who has spent at least two hours a day practising on a vintage video game for the past 25 years has secured what he says is the highest ever score.

Gary Whelan, of Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, has been playing the space invaders game, Galaxian, since 1980.

He said he had set a world record of 399,290 points, beating the previous record held by a Californian.

Mr Whelan said he would not stop playing until he had reached at least a million points.


Playing Galaxian two hours a day for 25 years with no drugs involved whatsoever. This guy deserves respect.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Cool VOIP Phone

Snom 220

Snom 220 Keypad

Just saw a cool VOIP phone on engadget. The Snom 220 runs embedded Linux and can be configured via a web interface. The phone also has advanced features like UpnP, STUN, and ENUM, plus an extra Ethernet port.

For full specs check out the site. I wonder how well this phone really works. I wouldn't mind one of these in my christmas stocking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Coke Machine Hacking Howto

Coke Machine

Just picked up this little gem on how you can supposedly set coke machines to debug mode and program them to do more "useful" things:

=================

Hacking Coke Machines

Written by Fire and Kyint
Sunday, 26 September 2004

Discuss this article on the forums. (1 posts)


####################################################
# File written by Fire and Kyint #
# © 2004. All Rights Reserved #
# Modifications to this file are not permitted without prior consent #
###################################################

PREFACE
Coke vending machines are everywhere. They're getting more and more like regular computers with LEDs that show little "ICE COLD" messages and whatnot. Well, there's a lot more to those little built-in computers than you may think. Included in the low-level operating system that these babies run on is an actual debug menu that gives you access to all sorts of machine information and possibly gives you free cokes in older machines.

WHICH MACHINES WORK?
There's a very strict list of vending machines that have the debug menu. First off, they're all COCA-COLA product vending machines. This means the giant, un-missable picture on the front must show any of the following: Coke, Dasani (Water), Barq's Root Beer, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Sprite, Evlan (water), Fanta, Fresca, Frutopia, Hi-C, Sprite Remix, Mad River, Mello Yello, Minute Maid, Nestea, Odwalla, Mr. Pibb/Pibb Xtra, Planet Java, Power Ade, Seagram's Ginger Ale, Simply Orange, Sparkletts, or Tab. Of course anything Diet or Caffeine free works too.
The machine must have an LED screen. Some of the older ones just allow the LED to be set to a price amount and won't have the debug menu. You're safer if the little LED is telling you something. Usually it will scroll a little message like "Ice Cold Cokes". Newer machines are more likely candidates.

ACCESSING THE MENU
To enter the menu, there's a button combination. HERE'S THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE TO REALLY REMEMBER:

[4]-[2]-[3]-[1]

The buttons are numbered depending on how they are positioned. They will either be vertical (more likely), or in horizontal rows of 4 buttons per row. If it is vertical, the first button is #1, the one below it is #2, and so forth. If the buttons are in horizontal rows, the first button is #1, and the one to the right of it is #2. The numbers work like a type writer after that. In rows of 4, the first button of row 2 will be button #5. So, to review, getting in to the debug menu looks like this:

COKE MACHINE::::::
$1.00 -------
-------------
[ Coke ] <-- Hit this button last
[ Coke ] <-- Hit this button second
[ Diet Coke ] <-- Hit this button third
[ Sprite ] <-- Hit this button first
[ And so on ]
-------------

Some text should show up on the LED (probably the word "Error", we'll explain what it means next sections). If nothing happens, your machine doesn't have the debug menu.

NAVIGATION
To navigate from option to option (What they are is next section), remember the numberings we gave the buttons. They work as follows:
Button [ 1 ] - Exit/Back
Button [ 2 ] - Up
Button [ 3 ] - Down
Button [ 4 ] - Select

OPTIONS
Depending on the age of the machine, you will get a varying amount of default options available.
On older machines: SALE, VER, EROR, and RTN
On newer machines: CASH, SALE, EROR, and RTN

CASH - Machine Earnings Display
The CASH option will display how much money is in the machine currently. It generally takes a second or two to load. From here, you can scroll up and down through 12 or 16 different options, depending on the machine age. These other options display how much money was spent on each individual item, classified through its button (or slot, as I like to call it) number.
A neat side note about the slot numbers is that there are more slot numbers than there are actual slot, so usually the last 4 buttons contain zero money. This could be so that the same OS could be used on bigger machines, but the newer machines have even more slot numbers.

SALE - Total Sale Count
The SALE option displays how many drinks have been sold out of the machine. This tends to be cumulative, but not on all machines. The stock guy is probably supposed to reset this each time he re-stocks. Also, this has the same sub-options as the CASH option, where you can scroll up and down and see how many drinks have been sold from each slot.

VER - System/Machine Version?
This option will cause a large alphanumeric string to scroll across the LCD. The number looks very much like a serial number, but doesn't vary from machine to machine. It is most likely the OS or machine version number, but of the older machines that have the option, I haven't seen one that doesn't have the same number.

EROR - Error Log
There are 8 different types of errors - COLJ (Column Jams), VEnd (Vend Mechanism), door (Door Switch), sels (Select Switch), CHAR (Changer Errors), acce (Acceptor Errors), StS (Space-to-sales errors), and bVal (Bill Validators). The separate types and actual errors are useless, as you assumably can't get inside the machine, BUT(!) you can clear the errors. Hold the enter (Number 4) button down for about 2 seconds, and it should clear the error.

RTN - Return
This is simply the return option. Selecting this will exit the debug menu. On newer machines, pressing the BACK button at the main menu will not exit, and RTN must be selected.
A side note: The menu can also be exited by pressing the coin return button.

EXTRAS
By holding in the coin return button and not releasing, on the newer "big-button" machines, this will display the internal temperature in Fahrenheit, as in "42F".

**Update**
There are many more menu options that are only accessible if they've either been enabled from the computer inside the machine, or on the internal computer behind the door (Probably not feasible for you to access).

CPO - Coin Payout Mode
You can can dump coins from the coin mechanism, and the various menu options allow you to choose which type of coins (Nickels, dimes, etc.) are dumped.

tVFL - Tube Fill Mode
This is useless to you. This allows you to load coins into the coin tubes, which you can't do from the outside.

TEST - Test Routines
This allows you to test the following various routines:
SE Allows you to test the buttons. Will give you number
of button when you press it
SP Sold-out paddle test. Not quite sure, most likely internal function.
Su Sold-out switch test. Same as paddle.
CO Motor test. Will run various column motors.
Cn Coin test. Put in a coin and it will tell you what kind of
coin it is.
nA Note acceptor test. Same as Cn, but for bills.
dSP Display test. Will illuminate various LEDs.
vErS Rattles off version number.

RELY - Relay test
This tests the relay electronic control of various parts. Do not do, as it will cause damage if various internal parts are not unplugged before usage.

PASS - Password
This is not normally accessible, but allows you to change the menu password from the 4-2-3-1. Whoo!

PrIC - Price Setting
Used to set the price for a drink. Not sure how to work it, but it seems simple enough.

StOS - Space-to-sales routine
Lets you change the STS routine and other options. This means that various buttons will all mean the same thing, i.e. the 6 coke buttons don't actually vend from 6 different columns, but vend from one (changing when one runs out of course).

COn - Machine Configuration/Permissions
This is the machine config menu that decides what of these options you are allowed to access through the outside panel. This is probably only accessible with the door open. I won't go into detail, but I'll list the Config numbers and what each do: C1 sets price menu on, C2 sets special (manufacturer) options on), C3 disables the "ICE COLD COKE" message. C4 is autoviewing of menu when door is opened, C5 is door switch status, C6 is mysteriously reserved for "future use", C7 determines whether your money credit stays in for 5 minutes or indefinitely, C8 is Force Vend, C9 allows multiple vends without putting in more money (i.e put in a 5 and get 3 cokes and then your change), and C10 is Escrow Inhibit.

CCoC - Correct Change Only Control
Adjusts Correct Change only rule to your liking.

TIME - Time Adjustment
Allows you to set the machine's local time.

LANG - Language Selection
Not sure how many languages are supported, but there are apparently more than just English.

USEFULNESS
Unless you can get behind the door, there's little you can do with this except impress your friends. However, if you're able to set the C-switches properly, you'll be able to manipulate the machine in any way you want, get free drinks, change the price, set up cool buy-one-get-one-free deals, etc, etc . Not to forget, knowledge is power. One step closer to free sodas!

Hack A Bike

CCC CD

Looks like the CCC has pulled another one off. They hacked the EEPROM on some german Rent-a-bikes to do their bidding. An excerpt:


Ever needed to get somewhere quick but you had no car, too late for public transportation and a bicycle could solve your problem? In Berlin and other big cities in germany the german railway company 'Die Bahn' offers a solution with the "Call-A-Bike" service. Read about the backdoor we put into nearly every 10th bike, which gave us all the free rides we needed.


For a full explanation of how they did it click here.

The Unofficial SuprNova.org Closure FAQ

A supernova IRL

Click here for the unnofficial suprnova.org closure FAQ. It all comes down to the following excerpt:


For two years, SuprNova.org maintained the largest BitTorrent community on the Internet. Literally millions of individuals each day would traverse this BitTorrent site looking for the latest releases. Although SuprNova was not a tracker, it did provide thousands of Torrent links to a multitude of movies, games, images and music. Today, the millions who called SuprNova home are now facing the grim reality that SuprNova.org no longer exists.

SuprNova.org's fall comes shortly after the demise of other key BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 link sites. Last week, the MPAA and other world wide copyright organizations began to clamp down on ShareConnector, Youceff Torrents and many others. While SuprNova.org was not forced off line, the administration was definitely feeling the pressure.

Slyck spoke with Sloncek, administrator of SuprNova.org about its closure.

"SuprNova.org was more like a hobby that took most of my free time away. And now with current situation, thereÕs too much pressure and I donÕt have the time for it."

Considering that administrators of smaller, although no less significant, communities such as ShareConnector were actually arrested, Sloncek decided to take SuprNova.org off line voluntarily. This will allow him and his fellow administrative staff to concentrate on other projects without worry of prosecution.

While the ability to trade information was a key reason for the success of SuprNova.org, the community will remain intact. SuprNova.org's forums and IRC network will remain online. In addition to keeping the community functioning, it will also allow the SuprNova.org administration to relay any addition news and information. The following statement is all that remains on SuprNova.org:

Greetings everybody,

As you have probably noticed, we have often had downtimes. This was because it was so hard to keep this site up! But now we are sorry to inform you all, that SuprNova is closing down for good in the way that we all know it. We do not know if SuprNova is going to return, but it is certainly not going to be hosting any more torrent links.

We are very sorry for this, but there was no other way, we have tried everything.

Thank you all that helped us, by donating mirrors or something else, by uploading and seeding files, by helping people out on IRC and on forum, by spreading the word about SuprNova.org. It is a sad day for all of us!


Like I said before, this is a damn shame. Suprnova will be missed.

Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle Open in Japan

Howl movie poster

Miyazaki's new flick, Howl's Moving Castle (Howl no Ugoku Shiro) seems to be out in Japan.

From what I've read on Slashdot the reviews say that it's pretty good and proves that 2d definately isn't dead. I of course would expect nothing less from this guy and can't wait for it to come out here in the cinemas or on DVD.

I was framed I tell ya

Atomic Mushroom

Schneier reports that MSNBC reports:


Somewhere in the world, there’s a navy blue suitcase with a small pack of explosives tucked in its side pocket.

.......

Four days after police at Charles de Gaulle Airport slipped some plastic explosives into a random passenger’s bag as part of an exercise for sniffer dogs, it is still missing -- and authorities are stumped and embarrassed.


Planting explosives in unsuspecting passengers bags for testing is NOT cool.

While this may sound comical just imagine trying to explain to authorities in fun human rights loving countries (like, let's say Saudi Arabia) that you have nothing to do with the explosives found in your luggage when you arrive and your luggage is searched...... Can you say "Cruel and unusual punishment" ?

Addition:

Check out the BBC for another story of explosive planting fuckups. At least this time they didn't use innocent unsuspecting passengers.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Burn labels onto your CDs directly

Burned CD

No more paper labels for me:


CREATE SILKSCREEN-QUALITY LABELS FOR ALL YOUR CDS AND DVDS RIGHT FROM YOUR COMPUTER.

Until now, there hasn't been much choice when it comes to creating labels for your CDs and DVDs. You use a marker or an adhesive label and that's about it. Imagine that you can create professional-looking labels, using the same laser that burns your data, right inside your CD/DVD drive. Well, it's true-you can! With LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling technology. No more messy markers or clumsy adhesive labels-LightScribe technology brings you a whole new world of personal expression in CD and DVD label making.

LightScribe technology is an integrated system. It combines the CD or DVD drive of your computer with specially coated discs and enhanced disc-burning software to produce precise, silkscreen-quality, iridescent labels.

With LightScribe, your disc is your label. This amazing technology is the no-hassle way to create awesome-looking labels for all your music mix CDs, digital video or photo archives, and for any business application. And they're labels that last and last. The sky's the limit in designing and producing labels that express your creativity and personality.

Soon you will be able find this amazing technology supported by all your favorite computer, labeling software, and disc brands. Look for the LightScribe symbol on the packaging of these products & it's how you know you can create direct disc labels. Only LightScribe-enabled products let you burn direct disc labels.

George W Idiot man of the year......again

George W Idiot

Time says:


For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year

.........

For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes—and ours—on his faith in the power of leadership, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year.


Good god, for the 2nd time. I think I'm gonna throw up.

If Bush get's chosen for man of the year for all his contributions to the stability of the world then I demand that Saddam gets it next year, for the following reasons:


For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes—and ours—on his faith in the power of leadership, Saddam is TIME's 2005 Person of the Year.


Hhhhhmmmm....Sounds familiar......

One sad day for bittorrent

Network topography

Seems that suprnova.org and torrentbits.org are closing their doors for good. They will be missed.

Seeing how the MPAA is going after bittorrent portals these days, it looks like we're gonna have to switch to a P2P bittorrent network quickly. The great advantage of this of course being that the powers that be have to shut down individual tracker servers instead of portals.

I wonder how long till new contenders pick up the gauntlet and become the new mega portals in the mean time. No, I don't think this is the end. Not by a long shot.....

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Google suggest reverse engineered

Google Logo

Some dude named Server Side Guy has reverse engineered googles new Suggest feature. Nicely done! Saves the rest of us a lot of effort ;-)

Source code can be found here and adescription of how he did it here.

Microsoft to charge for security tools

Microsoft on screen

CNN reports the following:


Microsoft Corp. disclosed plans Thursday to offer frustrated users of its Windows software new tools within 30 days to remove spyware programs secretly running on computers. But it might cost extra in coming months.

In a shift from past practice, the world's largest software manufacturer said it may charge consumers for future versions of the new protective technology, which Microsoft acquired by buying a small New York software firm. Terms of the sale of Giant Company Software Inc. weren't disclosed.


This is just wonderful. They create the problem of millions of users using a ridiculously unsecure OS and then charge them extra to fix problems in it. I'd like to see Ford try that shit if their brakes don't work because of a factory error : "Send us 1000 bucks and we'll replace your brakes....". See how long they could get away with that.

Anyway, well done microsoft. Another reason for millions of computer users to be less secure.

Build your own teleprompter

Amateur teleprompter

Yup, another REALLY useful invention for normal people (*cough* sarcasm *cough*). It Seems that this guy has built his own teleprompter. Click here for more info.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Off-the-Record Messaging

Guy holding key

Looks like there's a new encryption plugin for Gaim called Off-the-Record Messaging. What's so special about this you may ask?

Check ou this excerpt from the homepage:


Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging allows you to have private conversations over instant messaging by providing:


Encryption
No one else can read your instant messages.
Authentication
You are assured the correspondent is who you think it is.
Deniability

The messages you send do not have digital signatures that are
checkable by a third party. Anyone can forge messages after a
conversation to make them look like they came from you. However,
during a conversation, your correspondent is assured the messages
he sees are authentic and unmodified.
Perfect forward secrecy
If you lose control of your private keys, no previous conversation
is compromised.



Pretty cool. Big brother can't sniff your conversations and don't have a signature to prove that you said anything incriminating. However, they should still be able to find out who you were talking to and when you were talking to them. You still have to be careful about having sensitive coummunicaions online.

All in all a cool development. Let's hope that peer review proves that this is strong crypto. For a basic protocol description click here.

The New York Times ad is out

Firefox New York Times ad

Seems that the long awaited firefox ad in the New York Times has surfaced (Click here for full sized ad). Seems that they got so much money they could afford a 2 page ad. This also coincides with 11 million downloads. Well done firefox!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

West contemplated occupying middle eastern oil fields

Blood for oil

While this information is a bit old (article from January) I came across it again and thought it would be interesting to post it:

=============================

U.S. Mulled Seizing Oil Fields In '73
British Memo Cites Notion of Sending Airborne to Mideast

By Glenn Frankel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 1, 2004; Page A01

LONDON, Dec. 31 -- The United States gave serious consideration to sending airborne troops to seize oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released Wednesday night.

The document, titled "Middle East -- Possible Use of Force by the United States," says that if there were deteriorating conditions such as a breakdown of the cease-fire between Arab and Israeli forces following the October 1973 Middle East war or an intensification of the embargo, "we believe the American preference would be for a rapid operation conducted by themselves" to seize the oil fields.

It cites a warning from Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger to the British ambassador in Washington, Lord Cromer, that the United States would not tolerate threats from "under-developed, under-populated" countries and that "it was no longer obvious to him that the United States could not
use force."

Seizure of the oil fields, the memo says, was "the possibility uppermost in American thinking [and] has been reflected, we believe, in their contingency planning."

The document, dated Dec. 13, 1973, and sent to Prime Minister Edward Heath by Percy Cradock, head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, goes on to discuss the likely scenario for an American invasion, how Britain could assist the United States and how Arab nations and the Soviet Union were likely to respond.

Arab members of OPEC imposed the embargo on the United States and other Western countries in October to try to force them to compel Israel to withdraw from Arab territories. The embargo, which lasted until March 1974, cut off only 13 percent of U.S. oil imports but caused steep gasoline price hikes in the United States, Europe and Japan.

U.S. officials at the time hinted that retaliation was possible but did not describe the form it might take. At a news conference on Nov. 21, 1973, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger declared: "It is clear that if pressures continue unreasonably and indefinitely, then the United States will have to consider what countermeasures it may have to take."

In his memoir "Years of Upheaval," Kissinger added, "These were not empty threats. I ordered a number of studies from the key departments on countermeasures against Arab members of OPEC if the embargo continued. By the end of the month, several contingency studies had been completed."

Neither Kissinger nor Schlesinger, contacted through aides, responded to requests for comment.

The British document -- one of hundreds released by Britain's National Archives in an annual disclosure of government papers that are 30 years old -- goes beyond previous accounts in describing what the countermeasures might have been. It assesses as unworkable such options as replacement of Arab rulers with "more amenable" leaders or assembling a show of force. Instead, it describes an airborne military operation as the most feasible alternative, although "a move of last resort."

"The initial force need not be large," the document states, adding, "We estimate that the force required for the initial operation would be on the order of two brigades, one for the Saudi operation, one for Kuwait and possibly a third for Abu Dhabi." After the initial assault, it adds, "the remainder of the force which might eventually amount to two divisions could be flown in from the United States."

"The area would have to be securely held probably for a period of some 10 years," it concludes.

In Saudi Arabia, it says, "the operation could be fairly straightforward," with U.S. forces facing only a "lightly armed national guard battalion at Dharan" and a U.S.-made Hawk surface-to-air-missile battery. In Kuwait, it says, "operational problems are greater" because the Kuwaitis had stationed about 100 tanks near the airport. While the Saudis and Kuwaitis might attempt to sabotage oil wells and terminals, the memo concludes, oil could be flowing within weeks of occupation.

One complication, it notes, was that British officers were stationed in Abu Dhabi. "For this reason alone the Americans might ask the U.K. to undertake this particular operation," it says.

The document notes that military action could trigger a confrontation with the Soviet Union, lead to a long occupation of Arab territory and deeply alienate Arab and Third World public opinion. But it discounted the possibility that the Soviet Union would use military force against a U.S. invasion, saying it would seek instead to make political and propaganda capital from the move.

"The greatest risk of such confrontation in the Gulf would probably arise in Kuwait where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be tempted to intervene," it says, presaging Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

In another memo released as part of the disclosure of government papers, Heath expressed deep anger with President Richard M. Nixon over the U.S. failure to inform or consult with Britain before imposing a worldwide nuclear alert during the Middle East
war.

"We have to face the fact that the American action has done immense harm," Heath wrote after learning from a news service report that Washington had raised U.S. military readiness to Defcon 3, the highest peacetime state of readiness.

Heath characterized Nixon as "an American president in the Watergate position apparently prepared to go to such lengths at a moment's notice without consultation with his allies . . . [and] without any justification in the military situation at the time."

Nixon imposed the alert after Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev warned that Soviet forces might intervene militarily in the Middle East after Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal. No intervention took place, and the Israelis eventually withdrew.

Staff researcher Robert E. Thomason contributed to this report.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

=============================

This really makes you think. What plans do the US and chums have for the middle east at the present time, that we'll only find out about in another 30 years......

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Too cool to be believed

Jet Potty

Yup, somebody has stuck a 750 pound Boeing jet engine on to an outhouse. The result is a 46 mph potty. Guess they should call this one a number three....

Less bugs, more fun

Cockroach

Wired writes:


Linux advocates have long insisted that open-source development results in better and more secure software. Now they have statistics to back up their claims.

According to a four-year analysis of the 5.7 million lines of Linux source code conducted by five Stanford University computer science researchers, the Linux kernel programming code is better and more secure than the programming code of most proprietary software.

..........

The study identified 0.17 bugs per 1,000 lines of code in the Linux kernel. Of the 985 bugs identified, 627 were in critical parts of the kernel. Another 569 could cause a system crash, 100 were security holes, and 33 of the bugs could result in less-than-optimal system performance.


This is logical. The more bloated your code is (XP has 40 million lines) the more your bug percentage goes up. Also there is absolutely no peer examination by Microsoft, whereas anyone in the world can audit (and better) linux code.

Just another reason to wean those windows using pussies/idiots/lazy bastards (choose one or all of the above) into using open source and killing the "but it works" mentality they have.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

One small step for VOIP?

Skype Logo

Engadget reports that HTC (the Taiwanese company behind lots of those Smartphones and Pocket PC Phones which end up with somebody else’s logo on them (like the Audiovox SMT 5600, the XDA III, etc) is reaching out to Skype about porting Skype’s VoIP software to the next generation of Smartphones they’re currently working on.

With this you wouldn't even need to find a wifi spot to make calls. You could just use your abbos data connection to call your friend for considerably cheaper prices. You could even do it over an ssh tunnel and through a proxy. Totally secure communications for elluding digital radio scanners. Wonder how the telcos are going to try to stop this.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Some people have too much free time

Lego grandfather clock

Seems that some guy built a seven foot tall grandfather clock made from LEGO. The clock keeps accurate time, runs for 13+ hours before a weight reset is necessary, and all gears and such are 100% LEGO elements.

Impressive.

Shit or get off the pot

Disgusting Toilet

It seams that ikea have blocked off all the toilets in the dutch showrooms and have sealed the showroom toilets worldwide.

Apparantly the reason for this is that people with, lets say, a high need to leave a message have been using the showroom toilets. Seeing as they are not connected to plumbing (duh).....Well, you do the maths....

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Band Aid Dilemma

People doing bad stuff to cds


The Band Aid Dilemma....
You want this record to succeed, because you feel for the plight of the refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan and this project is funding aid projects on their behalf. However, you hate this recording and feel your musical ego looming and refusing to be bruised.

The answer?

* Buy as many copies of Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid 20 as you can afford.
* Destroy them in amusing ways, on camera.
* Send us the pictures.

Charity. Violence. You know it makes sense.


Hehe....Cool way to support Darfur and not have to listen to the god awful music. However is it just me or wouldn't it just be more efficient to donate the full price of the cd directly to aid organizations?

Sexy Suicide?

suicide handbook

The BBC writes:


In Japan, the internet has been blamed for a spate of group suicides which appear to have been arranged in online chat rooms.

.......

It had taken days of online research, emails and text messages to bring us here - face to face with a member of Japan's "internet suicide" community.

It is a growing, and morbidly frank underworld of chat rooms and websites with names like "Suicide Club," where thousands of (mainly young) people meet and talk and plan their deaths.


What can I say? People visiting sites to find new friend to commit suicide with. Seeing as this is a sort of "culture" thing, once again Japan shows that it really is one of the strangest places on earth.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Have speed camera's met their match?

It seems that there's a new spray for your license plate that makes it unreadable for speed camera's. Does this work ? Is it legal ? The site says the following:


Q. Is this product legal?
A. YES. The law in most countries requires your license to be legible to the naked eye. PhotoBlocker Spray is a high gloss, clear, reflective spray that is undetectable. It causes no distortion nor does it obstruct your license plate's view. YOUR LICENSE PLATE WILL BE VISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE. Besides, no one will even know you have it on. It only fools the cameras. (Please view news reports in the review section)

Q. Does the product really work?
A. Well, how should we answer that? To date we have conclusive tests conducted by Denver Police Department, Dutch Police, Fox News, Swedish TV, Australian TV, British TV and thousands of satisfied customers in six continents. Our Products were also featured on NBC, CBS, ABC News, Tech TV, Norwegian TV, Dutch TV, Washington Times, UK's Daily Mail and many, many more.
Additionally, our complaint or product failure rate is less than ½ of a ½ % of total sales in the past two years. We have repeat customers and 99% customer satisfaction rating. Some of our best customers are law enforcement and the same guys who install and operate the red-light/speed cameras. (Please see testimonial section)

Q. How many plates can I do with one can of PhotoBlocker Spray?
A. One spray can will do 3-4 us/Canadian size plates and 2-3 European size number plates.

Q. How many coats should I apply?
A. The thicker the coating the better the result. At a minimum 3-4 coats.

Q. How long will my order take to arrive?
A. All orders shipped to US/Canadian addresses take 5-7 Days. Orders with European address will take 2-3 weeks. Australian orders will take 2-4 weeks.

Q. Can I send a check or money order?
A. No. We only accept credit cards at this time.

Q. How do I apply Photoblocker to my number plate? Are there any special instructions?
A. Because the application of Photoblocker is important to the effect of the product, we have taken the step to include an instructions sheet with every order. The instructions are detailed and will help you achieve the desired result.


Here are a couple of before/after picks from their site:

License plate before spray

License plate after spray

I'll believe it when I see it. If it works this trully is a godsend.

Let's invite big brother for a cup of tea

Spyware

I've just read this disturbing piece about the stupidity of the masses on wired:


Not all web surfers think spyware is a problem. Some say the snoopy software is a fair trade-off for free applications, even with the intrusion into their computers and lives.

"Typically the assumption has been that spyware sneaks onto computers, or users are unaware of what they have agreed to install," said Gregg Mastoras, a senior security analyst at antivirus vendor Sophos. "But some people actually do knowingly install adware because they want to use a particular application that comes bundled with it. Some just aren't particularly concerned by adware's presence on their computers." .......


It goes on to say how some people see spyware as an acceptable price to pay for free software. I hope to god somebody re educates these people. Maybe it's time to make Secrets & Lies manditory reading for high school.

It pays to cheat

Roulette Table

Looks like someone pulled it off, "cheating" at a casino. The BBC reports:


A group of gamblers who won more than £1m at the Ritz Casino by using laser technology have been told by police they can keep their winnings.

A laser scanner linked to a computer was allegedly used to gauge numbers likely to come up on the roulette wheel.

But police said the case had now been closed, with no charges brought.

The gamblers managed to earn £1.3m in winnings thanks to the alleged "sting".

On the first night they won £100,000 and on the second took home another £1.2 m, the Sunday Times reported.

The trio - a Hungarian woman and two Serbian men - were arrested in March but police have apparently decided that they did not break the law.


Wonder how the casino's will react to this. They'll probably ban laser pens :p. Good to see that they get a taste of their own medicine.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

PF limiting TCP connections per source

Puffy, the OpenBSD fish

Yesyes. Everyone's favourite packet filter (for the unenligthened, it's PF) can now limit the number of TCP connections. See OpenBSD Journal for links to commit posts.

With these sorts of innovations I can't for the life of me think why people would want to use linux/iptables for their firewall.

The only way is up

For whoever cares, The AMS-IX (major dutch internet hub) has reached the 10 petrabyte threshold for the month November. Yup, that's 341 terabytes a day, up from 175 at the beginning of the year. For real time stats check out this page.

Now I'm wondering why I've taken the effort to post this. Damn, I am SUCH a nerd.....

Nerd

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The antichrist still has a job

His wickedness himself

Well, it was to be expected. Everyone's favourite minister of defense Donnie Rumsfeld is to stay as defence chief:


Donald Rumsfeld has accepted a request from President George W Bush to stay on as US defense Secretary, a senior administration official has said.

Mr Rumsfeld was a proven leader in difficult times, the official said.


While this was to be expected it is still a sad day. I'm still grieving because his boss got re-elected, even though some apologies help the grief a little. Donnie, if there is any justice in this world, then I hope you eternally suffer for the misery you have brought on to others:

Surah 11:98

He will go before his people on the Day of Judgment, and lead them into the Fire (as cattle are led to water): But woeful indeed will be the place to which they are led!


Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM

IBM

Big Blue is about to stop shipping PCs:


IBM, whose first PC in 1981 moved personal computing out of the hobby shop and into the corporate and consumer mainstream, has put the business up for sale, people close to the negotiations said Thursday.

While IBM long ago ceded the lead in the personal computer market to Dell and Hewlett-Packard so it could focus instead on the more lucrative corporate server and computer services business, a sale would nonetheless bring the end of an era in an industry that it helped invent. The sale, likely to be in the $1 billion to $2 billion range, is expected to include the entire range of desktop, laptop and notebook computers made by IBM.


Wow, this trully is an end of an era. While IBM are certainly not angels, their departure from the PC business is the end of an era. It is, after all, an industry they started and helped create.

To quote Steve Jobs, IBM has really done something insanely great and changed the world. This thing they started truly was, insanely great.

Oh Golden Boy

Goldenboy

Today I watched goldenboy. If you've never heard of it, here's a synopsis:

Kintaro Oe... A 25 years old guy who left college early. He specializes himself now in day-dreaming, part-time jobs and, of course, pretty girls. He roams the land on his trusty pink bicycle, living his life in a happy way.

The story of each volume is about the same. Kintaro finds a job somewhere. His boss is most of the time a beautiful woman that has no respect for him, especially when he starts to make silly stuff. The boss finds him pretty stupid, and after some time, fires him. But there's always a little event at the end that makes the girl who hated Kintaro fall in love with him. But it's too late, because Kintaro is already gone on his bicycle, traveling again.

I must say it was a whole lot of laughs with typical japanese humor. Some scenes made me think of Leisure Suit Larry, but with a japanese twist (and better humor). Unfortunately there is only one season with 6 30 minute episodes.

All in all I definately had a few good laughs and can't wait for a next season. A well earned 4/5.