What Censorship Breeds

Censorship is a slippery slope no matter who you are. The main problem when you censor something is the fact you will inevitably get support from some and be damned by others. Recently Apple pulled an app from their App Store that related to some sort of declaration by a Christian group. I linked to this specific article because I found the comments most interesting. There are those who support Apple’s decision and those who detest it but the best part of the comments is the back and forth going on between several Christians and several Atheists.

Since Apple has declared that censorship will occur in the App Store they have set themselves up to be criticized by all camps. Those who found the app to be hate speech are applauding Apple’s decision while those supporting the right to all speech are decrying the removal of the app. You can’t win with censorship because at some point you will anger a group of people.

Basically if you want to do perform censorship you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt.

Android Headaches Ended

A couple of weeks ago I made a post talking about a huge problem I have encountered with my Android device. Basically Google has lost all record of the applications I’ve purchased and if I want to continue using my paid applications I have to purchase them again.

The biggest headache here is the fact there is no phone or e-mail support for Google and thus if you have problems related to the Android Marketplace you have to post on the support forum. I did that on November 17th and have yet to receive any form of response. Worst of all I’m not alone. The more I dug into this problem to more obvious it became that there is no solution available and Google is worthless in providing any sort of help. The only solution so far is the following posted by user mjwhit3:

I had a conversation with a developer.
There is no way for them to change the account an app was purchased under (your apps account).

A workaround is (verify with the developer before doing anything):
1. Purchase the app again under your new primary (gmail) account
2. Provide proof of purchase for both transactions (apps and gmail)
3. The develop refunds your money for the first purchase.

This is a bit of work for them to do — especially to refund $1.50 or other small amount — so your mileage may vary.

Personally, I’m just going to safeguard my Titanium Backup files until Windows Phone comes out….

Yes the only solution so far is to repurchase your applications and ask the developers for a refund on the second copy. That’s bullshit through and through. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back after the previous series of failures I’ve encountered with the Android platform has lead me to this conclusion; Android isn’t a viable option as a phone platform. There I said it.

I’m willing to put up with a ton of shit but frankly losing all record of my app purchases without any method of getting technical support just crosses the line. I feel as though Google ripped me off and nothing pisses me off more than getting ripped off.

With all of that said I’m officially admitting to something now, I obtained an iPhone. Yes the platform I railed on more than anything else on the planet is currently what I’m carrying with me. As much as Apple pisses me off with their practices regarding the iOS platform I must admit the platform works. VPN works (which has never worked on Android as far as I can find), local backups of apps I’ve purchased are saved to my computer every sync (thus Apple losing all records of apps I’ve purchased it’s Armageddon), I receive no errors when syncing with my Exchange account calendar at work, and the media layer is rock solid. Between the options of an open and free platform that doesn’t work and a closed and restricted platform that does work I have to chose the latter because if my phone doesn’t work it’s worthless to me.

So what can I say about the iPhone at the moment? As I already stated all the features actually work which is a huge plus. The screen is gorgeous as Hell. Of course the phone does lose a lot of signal strength if you’re holding it in your left hand and having the front and back made out of glass if fucking stupid. The Last.fm app actually works and when I pause a podcast and come back to in five hours later it doesn’t restart from the beginning (huge plus). I also must admit that the built-in camera is the first phone camera that I can actually say does a half-way decent job (the Evo has an 8.0 megapixel camera but if the lighting isn’t absolutely perfect you get a ton of noise in the picture). Finally Apple’s practices with the App Store still piss me off to no end but at least if there is a catastrophic failure (like Apple losing all records of apps I’ve purchase) I can call somebody. Did I mention being able to use the phone function and my data plan at the same time seriously rocks?

I really tried to like Android but it fought me ever step of the way. Personally I’m not a fan of abusive relationships so I’m officially saying fuck that shit and moving elsewhere. I’ve eaten my words and realize I’m going to take endless shit for this but frankly I think the above makes a very valid case for my decision.

So why didn’t I jump to the Palm Pre instead? There are two reasons for that; I hold endless amounts of disdain for HP and the number of available applications for WebOS is sadly laughable. Considering the market share of WebOS has sunk to 1.3% I don’t know how relevant the platform will be in a couple of years. The last thing I want is to set myself up with a new platform only to have it die and thus have to perform yet another transition to a new platform.

I Like This Judge

Some poor schmuck is being sent through the legal wringer because it made a side business of modifying Xbox 360 systems. Well the judge in the case isn’t too happy with the government agents who are bring the case out and went on a 30 minute rant against the actions of the government in this case. Here’s my favorite part:

Among the judge’s host of complaints against the government was his alarm that prosecutors would put on two witnesses who may have broken the law.

One is Entertainment Software Association investigator Tony Rosario, who secretly video-recorded defendant Matthew Crippen allegedly performing the Xbox mod in Crippen’s Los Angeles suburban house. The defense argues that making the recording violates California privacy law. The other witness is Microsoft security employee Ken McGrail, who analyzed the two consoles Crippen allegedly altered. McGrail admitted that he himself had modded Xboxes in college.

“Maybe two of the four government witnesses committed crimes,” the judge said from the bench. “I think it is relevant and the jury is going to hear about it –- both crimes.”

The government had fought to keep the witness conduct a secret from the jury.

So the actions of two witnesses may have been criminal and the government wanted to conceal that from the jury. Are they any people remaining who question my distaste of the government?

What I find most interesting is the fact this case exists at all. I understand the actions of the man being prosecuted were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act but frankly that piece of legislation itself is unlawful. If I purchase a piece of hardware and want to pay somebody to modify it that’s my business, not the governments. My Xbox 360 is mine, I own it. Microsoft succeeded all rights to it upon my legal purchase of the device.

This is where many people will point out the license agreement that appears on the screen when you first power on the Xbox. Guess what? I never agreed to that before purchase and have no recourse should I disagree with the license. Would it be OK if I tossed in a license agreement to a car I sold that only became visible after somebody had purchased the car? “Oh hey I see you’re starting this car for the first time, just an FYI but doing so you agree to give me all the money in your bank account. K THANX BAI!”


I haven’t spoke up about my opinion on the recent Wikileaks fiasco. Frankly I don’t know what to think here. I’m all for the information being released because a government that keeps secrets from it’s citizens is a government that is up to something bad.

What I find most interesting is the recent movements against Wikileaks. Some people are calling for Assange to be charged with treason which is moronic because he’s not an American citizen (so note to Sarah Palin, Wikileaks itself committed no treasonous act). Others are clamoring for him to be charged with Espionage under the Espionage Act of 1917. I find this rather interesting for the following reason:

(a) of this section in time of war shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years; and

(b) whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, shall collect, record, publish or communicate, or attempt to elicit any information with respect to the movement, numbers, description, condition, or disposition of any of the armed forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the United States, or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any naval of military operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification of any place, or any other information relating to the public defence, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years.

Emphasis mine. Under our Constitution the only way the United States can be at war is if Congress declares it. Congress has declared no war since World War II so can Assange really be lawfully charged under the Espionage Act? I’m not stating either way but I find it a most interesting observation.

Strangely enough you’ll notice many stories about people calling for the head of Assange. Do you want to know a little secret? Assange isn’t Wikileaks, he’s just their figurehead. Nabbing Assange will not shut down Wikileaks as there are far more people behind the scenes doing the real work of keeping the site up.

I’d also point out the fact that any potential damage has already been done. You can’t erase information from the Internet, especially a heavily mirrored site such as Wikileaks. Shutting down the main Wikileaks servers, high jacking the domain name, or any other such nonsense will accomplish absolutely nothing. The base technologies of the Internet were designed as a decentralized method of communication that would be difficult to take down should the Russian decide to let nukes fly. It’s incredibly resilient and does not lend itself well to censorship.

The United States government should realized the damage is done and there is nothing they can do to take the information back. They need to realize the only method of correcting this problem is to stop conducting backroom deals that would be embarrassing if they should ever come to light.

Private Messages on the Internet Don’t Exist

I thought I’d bring this up because the subject cropped up on a forum I frequent. If you’re planning an illegal activity involving illicit substances do not do it on a public forum or through e-mail (seriously it makes the rest of us on that forum look bad). Private messages don’t exist online (in 99.99% of cases). The messages you send and receive are almost always in plain text format that can be read by anybody with the correct credentials. This means a system administrator can see any private messages sent by any user on the system they administer.

This in of itself may not be a huge deal but if that administrator is served a subpoena for those messages they must legally provide them to the authorities. The same goes with e-mail. E-mail may be encrypted from your system to the e-mail server but it’s most likely not encrypted on the e-mail server after arrival. This means any authority figured with a subpoena can obtain those messages and according to an EFF summit I attended at Defcon any e-mails older than six months don’t even require a subpoena to obtain.

Basically if you’re going to do something illegal, embarrassing, politically unacceptable, etc. don’t do it online. Even if you control your e-mail server you don’t control others’. When somebody on GMail sends an e-mail a copy is stored in their sent folder which includes information on whom it was sent to.

I’ll close in saying the best way to avoid getting in trouble with the police is to avoid doing illegal activities. With that said this advice also applies to things outside of criminal activities such as politic dissidence. Basically anything you want to keep private should be encrypted end to end and stored in an encrypted format that can only be unencrypted by the sender and receiver of the message.

Methods of Training

Although I mentioned the fact that I was at a range two nights ago I forgot to mention the most entertaining part. A man was in the stall next to us teaching his girlfriend/wife/who-knows-what-relation to shoot a handgun. I will give this man kudos on doing that but also shake my head at his method of training.

First if you’re a lady heading to the range let me give you this pro tip (which I received from a female friend who pointed this fact out); high heels do not for a good time at the range make. This goes double if you’re new to shooting. I don’t think I have to explain the laws of physics involved with high heels making a very unstable platform but they also offer poor support for when you step on empty brass casings and tumble over. Lucky for the girl in the stall next to us that didn’t happen but it’s a real possibility so please ladies wear sensible footwear at the range.

The guy had a good shooting stance. He was leaning forward aggressively, feet spread a correct distance apart, and he had a good grip on his pistol. His student was shooting with feed spread very far apart and standing straight up. When you teach somebody to shoot also teach them a proper stance. I can understand a proper stance being difficult to achieve when wearing high heels and refer you to the paragraph previous to this. Having an improper stance from the start makes that stance habit forming and thus harder to get away from when you want to learn the correct way of doing things. Try to establish the correct procedures for doing things from the start.

Finally I have this little quip; the time you’re using to teach a new shooter is not the time to show off. It’s intimidating for a new shooter to watch an experience shooter unload a magazine into a target with some semblance of accuracy. This guy did this several times. If you want to shot off pick the proper time.

Beyond those criticisms I have to give the guy credit for getting a new shooter to the range and making it an enjoyable experience for her (he was smart and didn’t spend time ridiculing the woman for not being a pro shooter from the start).

Rhino Review

Thanks to The Firearm Blog I found a link to review of the new Chiappa Rhino revolver. For those of you who haven’t heard of it the Rhino is a new revolver with a rare feature, it fires from the bottom cylinder instead of the top one. It’s an interesting design and did garner a favorable review from American Rifleman. Of course come to think about it I don’t think I’ve seen an unfavorable review in American Rifleman so your mileage may vary.

I really want to try one of these things out with a full .357 magnum load. It would be interesting to see how much lowering the barrel on a revolver reduces the muzzle climb.