A Court with Common Sense, This is a Rare One

A while back (before I started this blog) there was a rather frightening story…


A computer science student at Boston College was arrested. His room mate accused the student of “hacking” into the school’s computer systems and changing other students’ grades as well as ending out e-mails purporting the room mate was gay. But the reasoning on the warrant from the police is what was the scariest. The warrant for his arrest stated…

uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities. One is the regular B. C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.

So the evidence the police has was the fact the student was dual booting Windows and Linux (Linux is specifically mentioned later in the EFF article). Apparently Linux was being used to hide the student’s illegal activities. I mean we all know anything run via a command prompt is an operating system for only the most serious business of the serious business hackers.

Lord knows I could easily be arrested under such justification. Thankfully the Massachusets Supreme Court threw the case out…


It’s nice to see some common sense dealing with potential computer crime still exists. Normally simply accusing somebody is a “hacker” is enough to get a court case. Couple that with a lawyer who can spew enough technical jargon, no matter how incorrect the jargon is used, and it is enough to convict the suspect.

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

Especially if those Greeks are a Japanese University…


Aoyama Gakuin University located in the city of Tokyo is giving 550 students free iPhones. Sounds like a great deal huh? Well wait until you see the string attached to this one…

The gadget will work as a tool for studies, but it also comes with GPS, a satellite navigation system that automatically checks on its whereabouts. The university plans to use that as a way check attendance.

By check attendance they mean track the students’ whereabouts. So as long as you’re willing to have your university actively track you everywhere you go (with the phone at least) you to can have a free phone.

Of course I am curious how they are tracking the phones. Because it can’t be with software on the phone since third parties can’t write software that runs in the background on an iPhone. Maybe they are jailbreaking the phones. Either way doing a full reset would take care of either scenario. Granted the school would also notice that any reset phone is no longer reporting tracking information back to them.

The other method is either the government or cell phone carriers must be giving the university access to the tracking information. In a country without freedom like Japan this is of course very possible.

Either way there is an easy solution. If you’re a student with one of these “free” phone just give it to a buddy who’s going to class when you want to skip. The phone can only report back where it is, so if it’s in class so are you.

Google Chrome Developer’s Take on Linux Development

I can’t say I disagree with them…


I think Ben Goodger sums up Linux development quite nicely…

First of all let me generally comment that this entire situation is a clusterfuck.

More precisely…

“There isn’t dominant consensus around toolkit and HIG, there seems to be variance in commonly used software as to how it’s constructed and what it matches, and I’ve not heard anyone glow about how they can create the coolest looking UIs with GTK.

I have to say I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Goodger. I use Linux a lot and have done a lot of development one it. And every time I develop something for Linux I’m amazed at the lack of any kind of standards. Don’t get me wrong I understand that happens when no single entity controls an operating system, which is one of Linux’s greatest strengths in my book. But it’s a pain in the ass for developers.

For instance there were several sound sub systems common on Linux (ALSA seems to be the most common now). You couldn’t know what system any user would use so you ended up having to throw in code to support multiple systems.

This problem is still alive and well with graphical interface. You don’t know if a person is using KDE (based on Qt) or Gnome (Based on GTK+) or maybe even some other completely different system. I generally use Gnome (no flame wars please) and I don’t like installing a bunch of libraries I don’t need so I steer away from Qt based applications. The same goes for many KDE users they don’t want to install the GTK+ libraries. Hence you either have to say tough shit to some users or support both libraries.

This kind of cluster fucking is all over in Linux which is one of the things I hate about it. Don’t get me wrong overall I love Linux but not when I have to write code beyond the command line for it.

It’s nice to see even the geniuses at Google are having a pain in the ass time with it. Yes I know it’s petty but it makes me feel better when a company full of super geniuses have the same problems I do.

Wisconsin Bans Rail Guns for Hunting

One of my friends from across the boarder (Wisconsin) sent me something funny…


The Wisconsin DNR has thought ahead. Way ahead. They have recently changed the wording for their law dealing with usable weapons for hunting.

From the story…

Now, hunters can legally use firearms including air guns, handguns and guns fired from the shoulder. But advisors for the state Department of Natural Resources argued those definitions were too loose and could include things like electromagnetic weapons.

This is depressing because I really wanted to take out the rail gun and plasma cannon hunting this season. Alas I guess neither will get to see any action. Such a sad story.

Jealous Countries want United States to Relinquish Internet “Control”

Another thing that irritates me is the fact that the rest of the world apparently things the United States should relinquish control of the root DNS servers. I’ll drop this link to a slashdot.org story for reference…


For those of you who are unfamiliar with how the Internet works I’ll give a brief explanation of the DNS (Domain Name System). Each website is located on a computer which has a number associated with it called an IP (Internet Protocol) address. For instance the IP address of this web site is (actually that’s wordpress.com’s IP address which hosts me). Typing that address in would take you to wordpress.com

Of course numbers aren’t really useful to human being when it comes to associating things. Because of this we designed a system to translate names to IP addresses. When you type in www.google.com what is actually happening behind the scenes is your browser is asking a DNS server to return the IP address of www.google.com. Once the browser gets the IP address it accesses Google though the IP address.

So the DNS is pretty much a phone book for the Internet. And the master servers (called root servers) are the rulers of the roost. They are controlled by ICANN via contract from the United States Department of Commerce.

What many other countries are saying is since the Internet is a multi-national entity that the United States should give control of the DNS to some third party (usually the United Nation’s name is dropped). This is a case of pure jealously and idiocy.

The Internet is an evolution of ARPANET. ARPANET was created by the United States Department of Defense as a project to create a communication network that would survive a nuclear strike for the Soviets. Anyways through much work and finagling this evolved into the Internet that we know today.

This bring my first argument against surrendering control of the DNS over to some other entity. America invested the initial capital and research into the creation of the Internet. We then opened it up for everybody to use. Now being it was a government project apparently different rules apply to it. Because when a corporate creation becomes a world wide de facto item (like Microsoft Windows) no other government calls for it’s release to a third party. Releasing the DNS root servers to international oversight would be like Microsoft releasing the source code for Windows to international oversight. Yet nobody calls for that because it’s understood Microsoft put the initial capital and research (i.e. they bought DOS from a third party and rebranded it after some small adjustments) into Windows so they own it.

My next issue is this, the Internet is not censored. It’s an open means of communication which anybody can use, even an opinionated ass such as myself. This is accomplished for one main reason, the United State’s right of free speech. I can imagine the second some other entity such as the United Nations got control over the DNS censorship wouldn’t be far behind. For instance the United Nations is very anti-gun so I’m sure pro-gun sites would get axed. Being they have a lot of clout with the United Nations I’m sure the European Union could get a resolution passed to ban any negative talk about the Lisbon Treaty as well. Pretty much the bastion of free speech that we know of as the Internet would become akin to what China does with the Internet.

Problem three with the United States relinquishing control of the DNS is the fact that there is nothing stopping any other entity from starting their own root servers. The DNS is incredibly dynamic and anybody can setup a DNS server. Hell your network and work probably has one. If Britain wanted to control a DNS server they could most certainly set one up and use it. Nothing is stopping them. So instead of bitching they could try setting up their own system and force their citizens to use it.

Finally the system currently works. I’m a big fan of the idea that if something isn’t broken don’t fix it. The Internet works incredibly well at the moment so why the Hell should we do something drastic like rework the DNS? All that will do is break something and we’ll be fucked bad.

European Union Sues Sweden

Proving once again the European Union was a bad idea…


The European Union passed a law requiring ISPs to retain customer data “long enough to help police but not so long as to cause privacy concerns” (now THAT is some grade all bullshit). Sweden has not enacted this policy (probably because they have a little common sense left) so the European Union is suing.

I don’t know what they are going to get out of suing a member of their own union but like most things The Union does this is a pretty stupid idea.

And now for a side rant. If you just wanted the news article you can stop reading here. This side rant involves comments made on slashdot.org which I’ll link to in a bit. The actual rant is more to do with fanatic atheists though. First the link (do note because of the craptacularness of the comment system this may not take you to the actual thread I want, but hey I’m trying)…


What about this irritates me? Simple we have atheists who want to blame everything on religion. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against atheists or atheism in general. Just like I have nothing against Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other form of religion or lack thereof. But I do have a problem with the zealots in all of these groups who try to blame every other religion (yes I’m calling atheism a religion in this case) for the world’s problems.

Being I visit technology sites I get exposed to far more zealot atheists then any other type of zealot. They love nothing more then highjacking a conversation and using it as a soapbox to preach their faith (yes faith, because these people have a faith there is no deity/deities). At least on slashdot I’ve never noticed this behavior with any other religious group so these guys get pointed out.

Now the reason these guys piss me off. They are blaming religion as the one and only factor for terrorism in the world. These people are claiming if it weren’t for religion all would be well. Guess what guys you’re being hypocrites here. You are pretty much saying your group is so morally superior that if all other groups ceased to exist the world would be perfect. That’s hypocritical because that’s what all extremist religious people say. If you don’t want to be associated with religion and religious people STOP ACTING LIKE THEM (them being specifically the extremist zealots).

Anyways I just needed to get that out of my system.

The FCC Think They can Search Your Home

Arrogance becomes you FCC…


The FCC believe if you have any device that could interfere with the operation of other devices (in other words any electronic piece of gear) they can invite themselves in to search your house. And we’re not talking at pre-arranged times and dates but anytime they damn well please.

So the spooks aren’t the only people who think they can search your premises without a warrant.

FTC Considering Regulate Blogs

Well this figures, I was reading Snowflakes in Hell and came across a rather scary news article…


The Federal Trade Commission is considering sticking their fingers in bloggers’ business. They want to require bloggers who review products to disclose whether the product being reviewed was given to them, is a sponsor’s product, or if the reviewer is getting paid to do the review.

Up next requiring bloggers to be “fair and balanced.”

Source: http://www.snowflakesinhell.com/2009/05/21/government-looking-to-regulate-blogs/

Right to Repair Automobile Law Put Forth

It’s about time a law was put forth that removes all the barriers between automobile computers and their owners…


Strangely enough it’s being proposed by Bob Barr and Ralph Nader. I never thought I’d see a day when these two people agreed on something.

The bill would make proprietary computer systems with lockout mechanism illegal for use in automobiles. As it stands right now automotive manufacturers like to make their vehicles as hard to work on as possible. They do this because they make a huge chunk of change when you bring your car in for work. This would allow a person to diagnose their own problem and possible fix it themselves or have an independent mechanic do it (which is normally a LOT cheaper).

This is Why We Backup People

Because if you don’t you can lose 13 years of work…


Some malicious hacker got into the servers used by avsim.com. The person in charge of the 13 year project forgot to back stuff up. Well not exactly forgot, he just had two servers which cloned themselves to one another. Which means when the malicious hacker got access to one server he was able to get access to the second server and destroy the data on both of them.

Always, always, ALWAYS and once again ALWAYS have off network backups. And if at all possible have offsite backups as well. That way you have a chance of recovering after a catastrophe such as the one in the article.