Wisconsin Bans Rail Guns for Hunting

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

http://www.wkowtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=10431620

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…

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/28/1734243

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 74.200.243.253 (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…

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/05/eu-sues-sweden-demands-law-requiring-isps-to-retain-data.ars

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)…

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1247565&cid=28121785

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…

http://techdirt.com/articles/20090521/0939414961.shtml

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…

http://techdirt.com/articles/20090519/1030204931.shtml

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…

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/05/right-repair-law-pro

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…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8049780.stm

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.

Bruce Schneier Against Cyber Security Tsar

The bastion of common sense security, Bruce Schneier, speaks his mind on the appointing of a cyber security Tsar…

http://threatpost.com/blogs/do-we-really-need-cybersecurity-czar

As the man himself puts it.

Really what I think is it shouldn’t be anybody. We do better without a top-down hierarchy. Our economic and political systems work best when there isn’t a dictator in charge, when there isn’t one organization in charge. My feeling is there shouldn’t be one organization in charge. Not only shouldn’t it be the NSA, it shouldn’t be anybody,

I find myself agreeing with him yet again. I don’t know where this idea of appointing so called “Tsars” came from since we aren’t a Russian Monarchy but it’s getting bloody annoying. Having a single person in charge of anything generally fails. That’s why we have the Senate and Congress (granted they don’t really do their jobs in my book). Our founding fathers saw first hand what having one buffoon in charge does so they set up a system with many buffoons in charge.

Having a single person in charge of anything, especially security, leaves a single point of failure in the system.

European Union Thinks U.S. Should Relinquish Control of the Internet

Yet more news of the European Union trying to screw everybody else…

http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/european-union-wants-cut-internet

This time they want some control over the Internet. This is an oversimplification but right now there is an organization called ICANN which acts as a central authority for Internet. Since 1998 they have been working under mandate of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This agreement is up for termination in September of 2009.

The European Union things once this agreement is terminated they should get a piece of the action. Never mind the fact that the U.S. funded and developed most of the technology that makes the Internet your are using right now possible. Never mind that many of the U.S. laws are the reason the Internet has remained on open source of information anybody can use. Nope that doesn’t matter.

Being the Internet is an international entity now it might seem logical to have other countries help in its oversight. The problem I have with this is many European countries are, or soon will, filter content obtained online. China currently is hold the record as the most famous attempt to filter Internet access (which they are failing at since there is no way to filter so much data). But China has no influence over the regulating body known as ICANN so they can’t force filtering for other countries.

If another group such as the European Union gained power over ICANN they could conceivably set into motion a list of items that would no longer be permissible to place online. Remember much of the Eurozone isn’t too big into the whole freedom of speech idea. And the Internet would not be useful if it wasn’t for the freedom of speech. I could see the E.U. wanting to place a ban on all pro-gun sites out there. After all we know how much the E.U. loves the right to bear arms.

European Union Wants Companies Liable for Software

You know I hate the idea of the European Union a little more every day…

http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39649689,00.htm

They have another idea that should not be. They want to hold companies and, in the case of open source applications, programmers liable for defects in their code.

To somebody outside of the software industry this may sound like a good idea. Who hasn’t been bitten by a software bug and wanted to unleash their wrath upon the coders? But as a coder myself I can tell you this, programming is hard.

More specifically parts of programming are hard. Getting an application up and running and then getting it to do basic tasks is pretty simple. The problem comes when you want to make those basic tasks reliable.

The damnedest things can cause a bug in an application. Forgetting to terminate a string in a null character in C for instance can lead to worlds of hurt. Sometimes when your application calls on outside code that outside code will cause an unforeseen but in your own code. The bottom line is trying to foresee all possible bugs and mishaps is impossible. This desire of the European Union would create a liability for software companies in that part of the world and probably cause them to move elsewhere. Maybe somewhere that isn’t trying to make life as hard as possible for businesses.