Monday, February 28, 2005

China walks out of wireless LAN security talks

Its a long arduous tasks developing and standardizing on how things will work. Innternational committees flesh out standards that will hopefully work internationally. Because of such standards we have cell phones that can operate internationally, and of course our beloved internet. The world of hubs, routers and switches are very dependendant un such standardization. Wireless standards are evolving quickly from 802.11b to 802.11g to the proposed IEEE's 802.11i, which will improve wireless security among other things. So, China walks out of wireless LAN security talks
China walked out of a wireless standards meeting this week, accusing the International Organization for Standardization of favoring the IEEE's 802.11i ANSI-certified wireless LAN security scheme over its own controverisal proposal, EE Times has learned.

The gambit came after China's Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) security scheme was withdrawn and placed on a slower track by the ISO. This week's meeting in Sulzbach, Germany, included the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC6 WG1 working group created to resolve the dispute.

China initially agreed last year to refrain from making its WAPI security scheme mandatory for wireless LAN equipment in China. It then approached ISO with a fast-track submission in an effort to make WAPI an international security standard. The 802.11i proposal is also on the fast-track for ISO approval, possibly by April. Until this week, the ISO group was focused on whether or not both 802.11i and WAPI should be cemented as enhanced — but optional — security standards.

However, sources said tempers flared when China's original fast-track submission, designated 1N7506 of China National Standard GB15629.11 (WAPI), was withdrawn from consideration. It was replaced by a revised submission, designated 6N12687, that removed the China proposal from the organization's fast-track approval process.
Why are the Chinese so adamnet about including their proprietary, closed sourced garbage into the standard? I suspect it isn't just about collecting residuals, but its more about spying on their citizens and perhaps even about spying on us (American Industry).

Electronics Weekly has this to say:

We've been in constant contact with Chinese officials since the beginning of December on this issue, an Intel spokesman said. And while Intel has been working to sway the policy makers, the semiconductor giant has also been
studying the WAPI standard. We have determined we are not able to produce
products by the June 1 deadline that meet our quality standards, and we don't
have a schedule or roadmap to produce those products, the spokesman said.
That means Intel will be unable to sell its Centrino chipset in China. The company
will still be able to sell its Pentium M microprocessor and any of its other non-wireless products. China is the largest country in Intel's Asia Pacific business and is a significantly important market, the spokesman said. Although technical reasons are preventing Intel from making the June 1 deadline, the spokesman said, a number of side issues also exist. For example, only portions of the WAPI spec have been made public. Only Chinese companies know the full spec, and international companies are required to work with local companies if they want to sell products that meet the spec. To do that it's necessary to share intellectual property, but China offers no protection for IP.
In addition, Intel believes that open standards are the proper approach to technology products. As a matter of philosophy, we continue to believe that proprietary closed standards specific to one country are the wrong business model, the Intel spokesman said. We believe that global standards are fundamental to making
wireless LANs a viable technology worldwide. Intel is not the first company to
baulk at a proprietary Chinese standard for wireless technology. The Semiconductor Industry Association last month called upon China to withdraw the requirement.


This a a further demonstration of how China doesn't play well with others in a global economic games.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Viewing China with a more Critical Eye

New indications show the state department is becoming less restrained in voicing critisism of China's aggressivenes with its neighbors.
The Pentagon is preparing to ratchet up its assessment of the threat of China’s expanding military, in a signal that the Bush administration is increasingly concerned about China’s growing ambitions in the region.

The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, the formal assessment of US military policy, will take a more pessimistic view of the challenge posed by an emerging Chinese superpower than the 2001 overview.

The Brilliance of Karl Rove

The Democrats, seem about ready to explode, I've noticed a certain meaness, and anger out in the blogospohere, and through out the political left. The Gannon/Guckert affair has Atrios & Kos foaming at the mouth, and screammings of stolen elections, is the war cry of our congressman. Its getting pretty wierd when we think of Hillary as the voice of reason for the Democrats.

In the latest developement Congressman Maurice Hinchey accuses Karl Rove of planting documents, to embarrass CBS and Dan Rather.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY): People have been - people in the media have been intimidated. The media has changed in the last four years. People have changed in the last four years. They've had a very very direct, aggressive attack on the, on the media, and the way it's handled. Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger. They knew that he had run away from his responsibilties in the Air National Guard in Texas, gone out of the state intentionally for a long period of time. They knew that he had no defense for that period in his life. And so what they did was, expecting that that was going to come up, they accentuated it: they produced papers that made it look even worse. And they - and they distributed those out to elements of the media.

...

Audience Member: Don’t you think it’s irresponsible to make charges like that?

Congressman Hinchey: No I don’t. I think it’s very important to make charges like that. I think it’s very important to combat this kind of activity in every way that you can. And I’m willing — and most people are not — to step forward in situations like this and take risks.

Audience: [Clapping and cheering.]
Now one can excuse this as an excess of the truly mad, but as HindRocket notes:

It's easy to write off this kind of thing as limited to the moonbat wing of the Democratic Party, but here's the thing: when is the last time you heard any Democrat criticize this kind of nonsense, or try to distance himself from it?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Privatization of Social Security in Galveston

Here in Galveston, the County is running a program, that is ahead of its time. The results aren't completely positive, but it is a first try.

GALVESTON, Texas - For all the uncertainty swirling around President Bush's proposal to offer private Social Security retirement accounts, there is a corner of the country where the idea has already been tried and tested for a generation.

Three Texas counties hugging the Gulf of Mexico voluntarily withdrew from the federal Social Security system in 1981, transferring the retirement taxes of county employees into private investment accounts.

That's the good news: As the nation prepares to debate a momentous potential change in the bedrock federal retirement plan, there are some real-world experiences in Texas available to be studied as test cases.

The bad news is that the verdict is decidedly inconclusive. No one here can agree whether county retirees are better off than they would have been had they stayed with the Social Security system - a dilemma that precisely mirrors the emerging complexities of the national Social Security debate.

One thing that our persent form of Social Security does is spread out the equity. Privatization gives the retirees only what they have paid for.

Friday, February 18, 2005

SHA-1 Broken ?

Data security is usually concerned with two seperate functions. The first is ensuring the data is originating from those whom it is supposed to and that it is complete and unaltered. This is sometimes called signing, The other function is encryption. Encryption is used to ensure privacy. The most practicle way of encryption is to use a public key. A public key is typically widely available, decryption is done with a private key that should only be accessable by the owner, therefore only the key owner can decrypt a message. If anyone can access the public key, then it becomes important that the owner of the sent data be known, and it is some how verififyable that the data hasn't been tampered with. Signing is very important in sending of encypted data, as well as any other secure data transport, and is therefore the most important part of any data security icluding PGP. Signing is often invisible to many users, when we use our Credit cards, access financial accounts, or even apply software patches our browsers use signing. The most common algorithm to date is called the SHA-1 Hash. It seems that it is not as secure as we had once thought.

SHA-1 Broken

SHA-1 has been broken. Not a reduced-round version. Not a simplified version. The real thing.

The research team of Xiaoyun Wang, Yiqun Lisa Yin, and Hongbo Yu (mostly from Shandong University in China) have been quietly circulating a paper describing their results:

  • collisions in the the full SHA-1 in 2**69 hash operations, much less than the brute-force attack of 2**80 operations based on the hash length.
  • collisions in SHA-0 in 2**39 operations.
  • collisions in 58-round SHA-1 in 2**33 operations.
Bruce Schneier is one of the most highly respected folks in the science of Cryptology, and it apears that his concerns should be taken seriously. Maybe though its not really really broken but frayed with some cracking. Its going to take a while but we are all going to be affected and a swithchover to a more secure algorithim is sure to replace the, until now, reliable SHA-1 hash. Until this happens we will go on just as we have before using secure web pages and PGP until something better comes along.

Keeping it in the Family

The Bush's aren't alone in wanting to keep power in the families. Daddy anoints junior, Son of Collin, and now Daughter of Dick. Apparently other world leaders are thinking along the same lines. Niether Kim nor George are getting much critisism within, for their nepotistic goverments.
Proving once again that murderous insensitivity, brutal ineptitude, and psychotic brinksmanship run in the family, North Korean Brutal Dictator/ Glorious Leader Kim Jong-il has confirmed that the reins of terror…er, power…will be passed to one of his three sons.

Hmm…let’s see…North Korea is an economic basketcase, an international pariah, and a diplomatic laughing stock. It’s difficult to believe that anyone would actually WANT to become the leader of the world’s only remaining Stalinist regime (yeah, THAT experiment worked well, eh??) It seems an awful lot like being given command of a leaking garbage scow.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Kyoto protest beaten back by inflamed petrol traders

Thirty Greenpeace got more than they bargained for when they attempted to crash an oil trading floor.

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.
What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.



“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”


The protesters got what they deserved. Protest is an impoertant part of democracy. The protestors would have earned a more sympathetic ear if they kept their protest out on the sidewalks, there is no excuse for crashing the trading floor itself. The gate crashers got exactly what they deserved, and congradulations to the traders who cleaned the floor of smelly swill.

China emerges as global consumer

China emerges as global consumer

With a booming economy and 1.3bn people, it is now the world's largest consumer of grain, meat, coal and steel, said the Earth Policy Institute.

But China's insatiable demands are putting ever more pressure on the country's natural resources.

Air and water pollution are already serious problems, and there is talk of a looming ecological crisis.

China is well ahead of the US in the consumption of goods such as television sets, refrigerators and mobile phones, according to the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.

China is not only the now the largest consumer, but its economy is growing at an explosive rate. This in context with the Kyoto Treaty, explains why our signing just isn't that great of an idea. Nations such as China and India who have few polution controls are exempted.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Condi Assists with the Bush Nepotism Program

I had a pretty high opinion of Condoleeza Rice, until today. It turns out she is a willing participant in helping employ the children of the Bush Cabinet. I don't know much about Elizabeth Cheney, maybe she isn't bright enough to get a job on her own, or maybe she is qualified to be a high ranking diplomat. Its very hard to believe that she is the most qualified. One would think that after the Michael Powell disastor, Condi would see that she is making a big mistake.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick
Cheney, will become the second-ranking U.S. diplomat for the Middle East,
the State Department said on Monday.

Cheney, who previously worked in the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and left to work on her father's 2004 re-election campaign, will become the bureau's principal deputy assistant secretary of state.

This is the bureau's second ranking position and deputizes for the assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters Cheney would also serve as "coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives" -- a U.S.-backed idea to try to spread democratic and economic reform in the region. "Her duties will include a focus on U.S. bilateral and multilateral efforts to support freedom, democracy and expanded education and economic opportunities in the broader Middle East and North Africa," he said.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blood Found at Mystery House Not Hoffa's

We thought that maybe ... just maybe that the mystery was going to be solved, The blood found at mystery house is not Hoffa's, It seems approriate that the mystery never completely gets resolved.

Verizon Buys MCI

OK, lets see if I got this right.
MCI who was World Comm. because of a lot of lying and treachary went broke. The Stock became worthless. The creditors get issued new stock, as MCI, that has some value. Verizon buys MCI, for 6.8 Billion. The Creditors make a fine profit, the WorldCom stockowners get screwed, and the Worldcom executives are still not in jail.

MCI, based in Ashburn, Va., emerged from bankruptcy last spring after a
multibillion-dollar accounting scandal which nearly destroyed the company. Former chief executive Bernard Ebbers is currently being tried on criminal charges in the fraud, which boosted the profits WorldCom reported by hiding billions of dollars in expenses and inflating revenues. Former chief financial officer, Scott Sullivan, became the government’s lead witness against Ebbers after pleading guilty in the scandal.
The company, once worth $180 billion on the stock market, wiped away most of its debt in the bankruptcy reorganization.
But a combination of price wars, unfavorable regulatory changes, and competition from cell phones and Internet-based calling made it unlikely the company could survive on its own for the long term, so Capellas immediately began shopping the company around to prospective buyers.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Galveston Music Scene

Galveston has more than its share of music talent and venues, The 1862 Operah House to Mardi Gras, but the best music is found in the smaller venues of nightclubs, and local bars. Knowing where to go on any particular night has always been pretty difficult. Galveston Music Scene does a good job of mapping it all out. Check it out!

Blogger Commenting Enhancement

Blogger improved the commenting system, and added a feature that I think is pretty kewl. When commenting on a Blogger site (such as this one) users can select the the other button which will reveal a two text boxes, both optional, name and URL. This means that users don't have to be anonnymous, and bloggers, can identify their screen names with their URL.

Speaking of commenting issues, I got my first attempt at comment spam today. I hope it isn't a preview of things to come.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

House approves electronic ID cards

As we move further toward an Orwells 1984, the House approves electronic ID cards. In the form of standardization and linking drivers licence (and any other state ID) data.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday a sweeping set of rules aimed at forcing states to issue all adults federally approved electronic ID cards, including driver's licenses.

Under the rules, federal employees would reject licenses or identity cards that don't comply, which could curb Americans' access to airplanes, trains, national parks, federal courthouses and other areas controlled by the federal government. The bill was approved by a 261-161 vote.

The measure, called the Real ID Act, says that driver's licenses and other ID cards must include a digital photograph, anticounterfeiting features and undefined "machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements" that could include a magnetic strip or RFID tag. The Department of Homeland Security would be charged with drafting the details of the regulation.

The whole idea sounds pretty scary, but I really wonder about two things.
  1. The fact that Congress wants to pass off the details on implementation to the Department of Homeland Security. Doing it this way takes responsablity of privacy issues, away from a Congress we can hold (somewhat) responsable, to an un accountable goverment agency. Homeland Security is going to place more importance on information gathering and feeding the 3 letter agencys than they will about privacy and information security.
  2. RFID tags. Homeland Security and law enforcement agency's are gonna love this one. Imagine sensors put up in malls, Sporting goods stores and truckstops. One could easily track suspected crimminals and persons of interest. How about sensing equipment set up to check on customers at a car dealer ship. With social securuty information that is to be tied into this database a salesmen could prequalify customers credit worthiness. The ability ID folks without their knowing it is going to be a hustlers dream come true.
The C|Net article Continues:

States would be required to demand proof of the person's Social Security number and confirm that number with the Social Security Administration. They would also have to scan in documents showing the person's date of birth and immigration status, and create a massive store "so that the (scanned) images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format" permanently.

Another portion of the bill says that states would be required to link their DMV databases if they wished to receive federal funds. Among the information that must be shared: All data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards, and complete drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions and points on licenses.

The Bush administration threw its weight behind the Real ID Act, which has been derided by some conservative and civil liberties groups as tantamount to a national ID card. The White House said in a statement this week that it "strongly supports House passage" of the bill.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Keeping Us Safe from Photo Terrorist.

HouDog finds that theHomeland is secure in downtown Houston. I rememember before 9/11 when we were a free country and photographing public places was perfectly legal.
I was downtown the other day when I spotted a little hidden-away park I had never seen. Being the opportunist, I circled the block - found an open parking meter - grabbed my camera - and headed to take some shots.

While waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street to the park, I decided to check the settings on my camera. I did this by taking a shot of a nearby building and then adjusting the settings. Well, I had just snapped my second picture and was changing the settings when a non-descript black SUV cut across three lanes of traffic and pulled in front of me. The tinted window slid down smoothly to reveal a man holding a badge in my direction asking, "Can I talk to you for a minute?" Well, with a pretty high pucker factor, I said, "Sure."

The man asked, "What are you taking pictures of?"

"Nothing yet... I am going across the street to that park to take some shots."

"We get a little nervous when we see someone taking pictures of buildings," he stated and asked for my ID.

I handed him my license and he quizzed me as to its contents... "Are you from Texas?"

"Uh, yeah.... Houston," I responded wondering if this really ever catches bad guys in a lie.

I wonder if there is any potential for actually finding and stopping a terrorist this way. Can they hold and arrest someone who doesn't wish to co-operate? It's still legal to take picures on the streets of America. We wonder if Barney Fife isn't just a local phenomenon in Texas City. It looks like he has a national presense

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Run Condi, Run!

Dick Morris suggest To stop Hillary, draft Condi. He might be on to something. Condoleesa Rice seems to be on a roll, and is enjoying a newfound popularity. Timing is everything, and she is positioned to succeed. Democracy is taking root in the middle east, Israel and Palestine seeking a real peace, and Europe is talking about mending fences.


As she tours the continent after her Senate confirmation, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is like a rock star, her every movement, her every meeting
covered by an adoring media.

America's first black female secretary of state is doing in public what she has always done in private, speaking frankly about America's priorities and the realities of the post-Cold War world. As she jokes with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, loosening up his dogmatic anti-American policies, lectures Russia about freedom and warns Israel of tough decisions ahead, one thing is obvious: A star is being born.

Traveling without the entourage customary for secretaries of state, on time, mapping out in advance her first six months of travel, Rice is a new force in American
politics.

As the Republican Party casts about for a viable presidential candidate in 2008 to keep Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) out of the WhiteHouse, attention will inevitably focus on Rice, the woman who may stand between Clinton and the presidency.

Since Bush's success in Iraq has laid the basis for negotiation in the Middle East, there is every prospect that Rice may preside over a diplomatic triumph in catalyzing the discussions between Sharon and Abbas. The firm American stand in Iraq will also make more likely success in Korea and Iran, all of which would add to the prestige of Rice.

Moriss' enthusiam might be tainted for his dislike of Hillary Clinton, as his book has so clearly laid out.

The political fact is that a Rice candidacy would destroy the electoral
chances of the Democratic Party by undermining its demographic base. John Kerry
got 54 percent of his vote from three groups that, together, account for about a
third of the American electorate: African-Americans, Hispanics and single white
women. Rice would cut deeply into any Democrat's margin among these three groups and would, most especially, deny Clinton the strong support she would otherwise
receive from each of them.

A couple of problems though. Condi hasn't expressed any interest in running, and she has never run for political office before. I am not sure a Draft movement could work today as it did in 1952. However, there is at least one website that is trying to raise money, and support for a draft Rice campian, and at least one Precinct Chair that is willing to throw support. Not everyone is thrilled with the prospect, although Boxer and Kennedy are in good company


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Gmail Give Away

I still have a pile of Gmail invites, free to anyone one who emails me from a valid email address and gives me a first and last name. It looks like the demand is down because of the abundance of invites available to those with accounts. Most people that really want one can get them now. It looks to me like the beta will soon be over and that we can expect that folks should be able to get accounts at www.gmail.com pretty soon.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Spectacle

Super Bowl XXXIX is a wrap, and the New England Patriots are the Champions once again. It was an exciting game even if it wasn't the best played, the Pats get to claim a dynasty. The commercials weren't that special this year, although I did like the frozen guy in the Mustang ad, as well as the Bud Light ad with the pilot jumping out of the plane. Why did they show the same ad three times in rapid succession though (Frozen mustang driver)?

The half time show was good, although some don't believe that Paul Mc Cartney has the kewlness of previous halftime performers. His clothing never malfunctioned.

All in all it was a lot of fun, and we believe the right team won.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Landrys Buys The Golden Nugget

There has been lots of local speculation that Tilman Fertitta has been banking on potential gambling in Galveston. Purchasing the Golden Nugget in Vegas is more proof to the speculation. While Texas must concider gathering more revenue, Landry's restraunts and Frettita are going to be in good positioning. The Flagship is our best guess for the first cassino. The question that remains is "When?"

Houston-based Landry’s, led by Galveston native Tilman Fertitta, said it purchased the downtown Las Vegas property from Poster Financial Group for $140 million in cash and assumption of $155 million in debt.With the news, Landry’s (NYSE:LNY) share price rose 12.5 percent.The news also is sure to resurrect rumors that Fertitta is eager to revive gambling in Galveston, where companies he controls have invested nearly $100 million and operate multiple restaurants and hotels.The Golden Nugget acquisition marks Landry’s first foray into the casino business, but expansion already is on Fertitta’s mind.“This transaction provides us with a well-recognized brand name that can be expanded into other markets,” Fertitta said. “The Las Vegas base provides an extremely strong foundation for our gaming division.”As Texas lawmakers look for new funding sources to bankroll the state’s public schools, an emotional debate about gambling has resurfaced on the island, where illegal gambling was big nearly 50 years ago. Last year, Fertitta was in the forefront of the debate when Texas lawmakers were floating a plan to allow 4,000 video slot machines at La Marque’s struggling dog track. Fertitta argued that putting machines at Gulf Greyhound Park would prop up that business but drain tourism from the island and Kemah, where Landry’s owns a 40-acre entertainment complex. If La Marque got slotmachines, the island should too, he argued.

On What really Matters

Well, Once again its Superbowl Sunday, once again the New England Patriots are playing and I'm pretty excited and will be cheering on the Pats and enjoying the game just like so many Americans. Still, in the grand scheme of life and human events its just not so important, it is just game after all. Northstar reminds us in his tribute to Max Shmelling who died Wednesday. Schmelling's life story reminds us that it is life we live that is important, and that sport is just a game afterall.
Schmeling resisted all efforts of the Nazi regime to link itself to him. During the later stages of the war, Schmeling even assisted Jewish friends in escaping the death Camps. After the war, he became a symbol of the new Germany, one determined not to be defined by it’s Nazi past. Nonetheless, Schmeling was not one to try to forget the past, either. He understood his legacy as a heavyweight champion, and while he was more than willing to share his knowledge and experience with later generations of boxers, he refused to be defined by his past. To his credit, Schmeling will be remembered as much for the quality and depth of his life as for his boxing career. Germany, and the world, is a poorer place for his passing on.


I will watch the game tonight and will cheer for the team I momentarily perceive as the good guys. After its over though regardless of who wins its important to remember that its still just a game, and the real importance is how we actually live our lives.

GO PATS

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Probation Reform in Texas

Its not often when it comes to fixing something the Texas lawmakers aply common sense. HB 575 is a Bill that varys from the norm. Grits for Breakfast explains:
the state is 1,000 probation officers short, and in the midst of a prison overincarceration crisis. Ironically, state leaders have said the only way to avoid building more prisons, at a potential cost of billions of dollars, is to use probation services MORE, and incarceration less.

That's where Rep. Haggerty's new bill comes in. His especially smart fix, which he also proposed in 2003, would not only resolve immediate, functional problems with the system but would acrtually establish incentives for better behavior. Under HB 575, "unless in the judge's opinion the best interest of society and the defendant will be served," or if the probated offense is drunk driving or requires the probationer to register as a sex offender, probation would end after completeing one third of the term if no new crime was committed. It would also charge probationers who were released under this provision a $500 early termination fee.

For probationers who were drunk drivers, sex offenders, who commit new crimes (even low-level misdemeanors), or who the judge simply thinks should remain on probation, they must serve out the full probation term received. And of course judges may still terminate community supervision for new crimes. Indeed, any judge can decide any individual probationer should not be released after one-third of the probation period -- all they have to do is include a statement in the record stating why.

That makes a whole lot of sense -- in the big picture, society wants probationers not to commit new crimes. One's messy personal life -- missing meetings or having marijuana show up in a urinalysis -- doesn't justify prison time, especially since such people currently would be taking up space the state needs to house more dangerous offenders. If probationers know they can get off community supervision completely, they have a lot more reason to comply with the rules than if they're stuck for 10 years no matter what. I'm not a big fan of that $500 fee, and I'd like to know what happens for probationers who can't pay it, but overall this bill is a dramatic improvement over current policy.

Once again we are in debt to the Chuck Kuffner for bringing this to our attention. When it comes to Texas politics he is the best for keeping us on top.

A CNN Boycott

Bill Rogio is boycotting CNN linking them,and even notifying the advertisers.
Hello CNNia Administrator,

Release the videotape and a transcript of Mr. Jordan's comments at Davos, and I will be convinced. Until then your apologetic is unconvincing and insulting. Several bloggers in attendance heard otherwise, and based on Mr. Jordan's history, I am inclined to agree with them.

Mr. Jordan has a long history of demeaning the US military and accusing them of targeting journalists. As a former soldier I am personally insulted. Perhaps CNN should launch an investigation into his statements. Your association with Mr. Jordan can be very damaging to your credibility and reputation.

I have suspended citing CNN as a source of material in my weblog, which is viewed by over 1,500 people a day, until I am convinced CNN is honest in getting to the bottom of this story. My readers typically follow the links through on my posts to read my sources. I have copied other bloggers in an attempt to convince them to do the same. Hopefully this will create a noticeable impact on your site hits and give your advertisers pause.

Also, I have begun to compile a list of CNN advertisers and will put together a letter to make them aware of this situation unless I see results.

We demand the transcript of Davos and nothing less.

Kindest Regards,

Bill Roggio
I don't like the CNN Website and seldom link to it, and I rarely watch it. CNN.com used to be a great place to get news, but its reliance on premium (PAY) services is annoying. I will now even be more likely to avoid them. Rand Simberg is supporting the boycott and others are sure to follow. I won't be officially boycott them because its not clear to me that Eason Jordon's remarks are a part of CNN editorial policy. Seeing as though I read or watch CNN products much I don't really know. If the situation drags on, or doesn't get clear up I might join in a boycott, but for now its just wait and see.

New Cell Phone

I got a new cell phone this week, the Motorola V300. I've upgraded from the Nokia 3390 which was pretty reliable and performed pretty much as expected. The new phone is sexier it has a built in camera, sexy ring tones and a kewl look. Ever since I saw my first episode of Star Trek I always wanted a flip communicator, so far Scotty hasn't beamed me up yet. The Camera works and although the camera can take pictures under fairly dismal lighting conditions, the pics can be muddy. T-mobile gets $0.25 for each photo message. They do have a package to reduce the cost if one wants to transfer a lot of pictures between phones. One can also buy a USB data Cable and transfer the photo's to a computer. I think the photo phone will be nice when I have togo on trips without Equality, and I can now share some of the places I visit with her.

Its not all roses with this phone. I don't find it as intuitive as the Nokia phones I have used., and some of the operations don't work quite as well.
  1. Using a headset on the Nokia involved plugging the headset in the phone still rang on the phone (not through the remote earpiece) One just taps a button and it answers. The Motorola gives this tiny little ring that I often don't hear. The Mototorola also can auto answer after a few seconds(programmable time) This can be confusing when one neither the caller or receiver doesn't realized the connection has been made. Its not all that bad once your used to it, but can be disconcerting. The Motorola uses the more common 3 element connector for the hands free piece. The Nokia used a 4 element connecter, making them a little harder to find, and a lot of them don't work very well.
  2. The appeal of a flip phone was that I can put it in a pocket without dialing a number or putting trash into my phonebook. So far this hasn't happened, although the outside buttons do change change my ring settings, and occasionally beep at me. I could lock out the keyboard on the Nokia. Locking out the Motorola invoves a password and would be awkward. Still the flip phone does the job of preventing me from unknowingly and accidently calling my family at odd ours and checking the ring mode is pretty easy.
  3. Ease of use. The Nokia might seem easier to use because of my familiarity with them. I've been using Nokia since 1996, but I do believe that they are a little more intiuitive. The Flip phone aspect of the Motorola makes answering a snap. Text messaging is a little better using Motorola's iTap predictive text entry. The new phone has an excellent speakerphone mode it is clear and works even if the phone is closed up.
  4. The camera is the biggest reason I went for this phone. Although the camera takes only a 640 x 480 pixel image it's handy and with me all the time. Its just to risky to and akward to carry my good cameras with me all the time. T-Mobile has a Web based album to post photos they even support a blog of sorts called "Journal". Although I haven't set it up yet, it might make it a little easier to post to my own blog. by linking to the Journal.

Well so for in spite of a few quirks, I really like the new phone, I still haven't determined the usefulness of all the features, but they are fun to play with.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Spammer Pleads Guilty

We blogged about the SOB last June He pleaded guilty today.It's to bad he didn't get the death penalty.

A 24-year-old former American Online software engineer pleaded guilty Friday to stealing 92 million screen names and e-mail addresses and selling them to
spammers, setting off an avalanche of up to seven billion unsolicited e-mails.

The soft-spoken Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, W. Va., entered the plea to conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he was likely to face from 18 months to two years in prison at a May 20 sentencing.

Smathers also faces mandatory restitution of between $200,000 and $400,000, the amount the government estimates AOL spent as a result of the e-mails.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

On Being a Part of the Blogosphere

BlogHouston has noted that Dan Patrick doesn't pay much attention to the local blogs. KSEV is portends to be a part of the "New Media" and even has its own Blog. It seems however Dan isn't paying much attention to local blogs, even though he is a vocal critic of the MSM. Dan seldom links and seems to be missing some important coverage of local events.
Today Patrick is indignant because he doesn't think this story is getting the play it should at other media outlets around town. He said KRIV broke this story Monday night, he said the Chronicle hasn't given it the coverage it deserves (although the Chronicle ran a story on it last Saturday), and he said some local radio stations need to talk about it (we can guess what station he's talking about). He said that KSEV, KRIV and Lone Star Times are covering the story.

I must point out that KPRC-2 broke this story last Tuesday and we noted it last Tuesday. Last week, Chris Baker mentioned this topic on his show. It didn't take up an entire four hour show, but I do remember him mentioning it.

We're pleased more news outlets are picking up this story, but let's give credit where it's due, on who's covering what.

KEVIN WHITED ADDS:
Obviously, Dan Patrick is not reading blogHOUSTON! He should give it a try. It's the blog for all the cool political and media types. :)

We couldn't agree more. Blogs, especially local blogs depend on each other.