Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Getting around a censorous Firewall

The Instapundit has instructions and links to instructions on how to get around a corporate firewall. Some governments have firewalled access to Boingboing. The list of Goverments include such bastions of democracy such as Qatar and the UAE.

At fault in most of these cases is a US-based censorware company called Secure Computing, which makes a web-rating product called SmartFilter. But SmartFilter isn't very smart. Secure Computing classifies any site with any nudity -- even Michaelangelo's David appearing on a single page out of thousands -- as a "nudity" site, which means that customers who block "nudity" can't get through.

Last week, Secure Computing updated their software to classify Boing Boing as a "nudity" site. Last month, we had two posts with nudity in them, out of 692 -- that's 0.29 percent of our posts, but SmartFilter blocks 100 percent of them. This month, there were four posts with nudity (including the Abu Ghraib photos), out of 618 -- 0.65 percent.

In fact, out of the 25,000+ Boing Boing posts classed as "nudity" by SmartFilter, more that 99.5 percent have no nudity at all. They're stories about Hurricane Katrina, kidnapped journalists in Iraq, book reviews, ukelele casemods, phonecam video of Bigfoot sightings (come to think of it, he doesn't wear clothes either), or pictures of astonishing Lego constructions.

BoingBoing posted some methods to get around thes firewalls, which by first apaerances might seem silly because if one is blocked by the fire wall they might never see it. However the Bologosphere is quick to adapt, and Glenn as well as others have gleefully posted the instructions to get around the blockade. The tutorial might be handy for those who want to get through the corporate firewall as well as government blockades.

Bill Clinton Looking for Interns.

Bill is looking for interns. Well maybe with Hillary in the Senate and running for president she will be to busy to notice.
If you are an undergraduate, graduate or professional student or a recent graduate with your own strong interest in crucial issues of our day, the Clinton Foundation Intern Program offers a unique opportunity for growth, learning and meaningful service. We are looking for people who are dependable, enthusiastic, professional, and intelligent.

The Foundation has three locations: New York City, Little Rock, Arkansas and Quincy, Massachusetts. Little Rock and Quincy focus on Foundation business: the Presidential Library and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative respectively. The New York office is the official office of the Former President and the place where his activities for non-profit and for-profit work are determined and organized.

The intern's semester mirrors that of the school year, with the spring term extending from late January through May, the summer term from June through August, and the fall from September through December. Each location offers intern positions, and is described in more detail below. No matter which branch of the Clinton Foundation you work in, you will experience some similarities between each of the programs:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Substance in Austin May Not be Ricin

The report of Ricin in a college students roll of quarters sounded a little strange to me. The Intapundant claimed, "There usually turns out to be less to these stories than it seems at first report" Turns out that Glenn might be right. The MSM reported the the story when it was scary, but so far they haven't done much to follow it up. Fortunately bloggers and the local media is following up. The PrairiePundit points us to the Austin Statesman.

A mysterious whitish-brown powder found in a roll of quarters in a dormitory room on the University of Texas campus might not be the poison ricin after all.

A preliminary test by the Texas Department of State Health Services laboratory in Austin returned a positive result for the potentially fatal substance, prompting an evacuation of the Moore-Hill residence hall, an investigation by the FBI and worries of a link to terrorism.

But three subsequent tests at the same lab came up negative.

In addition, none of the people who might have been exposed — including the student with the quarters, her mother, her roommate and their residence hall assistant — has symptoms of ricin poisoning. The symptoms, which typically include breathing difficulty, cough, fever, nausea and tightess in the chest, usually develop within hours of exposure, health officials said.

"I'm pretty confident it's not ricin," Mike Elliott, senior district commander for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, said Saturday. "The state lab tends to be more presumptive in telling you what it might be."

It could take a day or two before additional tests at federal laboratories, which have more sophisticated equipment, give conclusive results, Elliott said.

Sounds like good news.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Google repairs a broken Map

Readers may remember this past October when Google gave away Taiwan to the Red Chinese
Well it looks like the Taiwanese have their island back. I don't know when they fixed it, but Google does pay attention to the blogosphere around them.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Galveston Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras will be kicking off tommorrow. A half Million people will visit the islabd over the next 2 weeks, and the city will respond to the extra traffic by blocking off streets and access. This years Mardi Gras will takes on a little extra meaning after Katrina. Most folks will have thoughts of the disastor that struck New Orleans. Yet I doubt it will dampen the revelry, and excitement of the party.

This year they have a Carnival at 33rd and Seawall. It might be nice to go on the ferris wheel and get a seagulls eye view of the Gulf.

Those comming into and leaving the Island might want to be a little extra careful. Every law enforcement agency on I45 seems to take an oportunity to give few extra tickets on to celebrate Mardi Gras every year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Houston 1836 to Change Name.

I thought it was a silly name. Giving a team a number instead of a proper name. It looks like the team is concidering changing its mind. Although I thought the name is silly. I can't understand what is so offencive. 1836 is the year of the Alamo. The year that Texans defeated a brutal dictator. The year Texas became an independant nation, and the year Houston became a city.

Many Hispanics have voiced their dislike for the controversial name, claiming it carries an anti-Mexican sentiment and lends itself to be a divisive tool among Houstonians.

Although 1836 was meant to symbolize the year Houston was founded, it also has links to other significant events some Mexican-Americans might find offensive. Those include Texas' independence from Mexico, the Battle of the Alamo and the defeat of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army at the hands of Gen. Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.

The logo, a star with "Houston 1836" emblazoned on it, depicts a silhouette of Houston riding a horse.

"We believed, and many people still do, that 1836 was a great name because it symbolized the founding of the city, and we thought people would rally around that," Luck said. "But obviously we hit a bit of a raw nerve within the Mexican-American community."

Are the Philidelphia 76's a slam against the English People? Of course not. 1836 represents freedom and liberty gained through sacrifice of patriots many of whom had Spanish surnames. There should be little sympathy for those who are offended about being reminded of a defeat againt the dictator Santa Anna.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Backlash of Going to Far

The Middle East erupts with anger and violence over a dozen cartoons published over 4 months ago. Al Gore goes to Saudi Arabia and slanders America, while Ann Coulter refers to Middle Eastern people as "ragheads" Its all about excess and the results of such excess isn't likely to further their cause.

Al Gore wins no friends from the moderates, or conservatives to his side as he goes to Saudi Arabia and vents about how the U.S mistreats the Saudi Arabians. Democrats will just have to distance themselves from Al, as he gets more and more outragous. Al Gore is helping to buils a more conservative America, I'm not sure that was his plan.

Ann Coulter is well known for outragous statements. She has called for the poisoning of Justice Stephens., and now is calling middle Easterners Ragheads. Ann is speaking to sell books, but the mainstream conservatives are keeping their distance. She is isolating herself, and is going to find fewer people inviting her to speak for her cause.

The reaction around the world to the Danish cartoons, was over the top. The reaction to the reaction was that the cartoons got republished even more. and splattered all over the internet. So their holy prophet got dissed' even more. One of the real concerns of the Middle Eastern people is that they don't get any respect. Seeing them all worked up in a frenzy over the silly cartoon didn't score any marks in the Western world. The moderate Moslems are speaking out against the extremist reactions.

Outlandish statements and rhetoric do little to further ones cause. Soft reasoned tones often are the voices most heard.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

RFID

A security company is requiring that employees have an RFID tag inserted in their body.
Two employees have been injected with RFID chips this week as part of a new requirement to access their company's datacenter.

Cincinnati based surveillance company CityWatcher.com created the policy with the hopes of increasing security in the datacenter where video surveillance tapes are stored. In the past, employees accessed the room with an RFID tag which hung from their keychains, however under the new regulations an implantable, glass encapsulated RFID tag from VeriChip must be injected into the bicep to gain access, a release from spychips.com said on Thursday.

Although the company does not require the microchips be implanted to maintain employment, anyone without one will not be able to access the datacenter, according to a Register article.
I'm not sure that I would want anyone sticking these things into me, but from a security standpoint it it doesn't make a lot of sense. RFID devices are just a numeric tag. If the ID number can be read they can be cloned, and sure enough instructions for cloning may be found here. Apparently, Citywatch wasn't aware of this issue, I would have a hard time trusting this company with any real security. It doesn't look to me to that they think things out very well.

Freedom is Terrorism

An AP Photo of a female protestor in Nairobi Kenya Friday Feb. 10, 2006. Do we stand any chance of creating understanding with these people?

Slow Bloggin'

I had to go to Baton Rouge Tuesday, and I'm still recovering. I'm just about caught up with everything and promise to pick up with posting later today.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Superbowl XL Thoughts

Crappy game the officiating was poor, and I had no interest in who won the game. Brief nipple exposure would have definately improved the game experiance. Instead we got a geriatric Mick Jagger prancing around the stadium. They bleeped out a few words in the songs. The same songs we've heard on the radio a million times. Michael Powell must be proud of the legacy he's left behind. I like The Rolling Stones, but it was a poor choice for a half time show. No pagentry and no babes. Usually there are dancers or chearleaders or something. Michelle Malkin points out there was no troop presence. Is this what Political Correctness is all about?

The Puppy Bowl was a lot more fun. and the half time kitty show was most entertaining.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Email Stamps.

Spam, it floods mail boxes everywhere. The spammers buy lists, and scrape them off websites, usenet and even mailists. An AOL employee was even caught selling a list to spammers several months ago. Now AOL and Yahoo! have a grand plan to charge some spammers for the priveledge of sending priority mail that bypass the gauntlet of filters and spamtraps.

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. Thy also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

AOL and Yahoo will still accept e-mail from senders who have not paid, but the paid messages will be given special treatment. On AOL, for example, they will go straight to users' main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gantlet of spam filters that could divert them to a junk-mail folder or strip them of images and Web links. As is the case now, mail arriving from addresses that users have added to their AOL address books will not be treated as spam.

The only companys, that would be tempted to participate in this will me mass marketers AKA Spammers. The suggestion that they will might lose real mail should cause AOL and Yahoo! customers to wonder. AOL blocks port access to real POPs and AOL users should concider getting an email account at gmail, Gmail does a pretty decent job at email filtering. If one has a good email program and access to to a POP3 they can do their own filtering.

Cartoon Anger

I have been standing on the sidelines, watching the anger and outrage grow over in the Middle East over some Danish Cartoons. The reaction from many bloggers is to post the offencive cartoons. Michelle Malkin has been a big clearing house. This is important and needed to be done. Folks everywhere need to know what all the controversery is all about. I did not participate, perhaps I should have, perhaps I should.

I was in Saudi Arabia for a couple of months in the 80s. The Arab press used cartoons to make editorial points. The cartoons I saw were in English language papers and were pretty mild compared what went out on their local media. The ones I recall were images that suggested New Yorkers and Jews were particularly evil, and the poor Palistinian young woman was the victim of all the injustices caused by New Yorkers and Isrealis. The Moslem world understands the context of these cartoons and they know how to use them to express their point of view.

My thought as the Danish cartoons were revealed were that they weren't that funny, didn't make much of a point, but by western standards not out of line.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt were the first to pull their diplomats out out, after the Danish Courts ruled that the newspapers were allowed to publish the silly cartoons. This was just the beggining begginning. Huge protest in in Syria, and the burning of the the embassy in Lebbonan. London protesters sported signs such shown here.
By posting the cartoons we have gained an understanding of how these nuts think, and we understand the matereal which has caused such a powerful reaction. My reluctance to post such cartoons is my distaste for others to satire my religion. Most people find it distasteful to have their beliefs mocked. I do believe that in this case mocking these people has demonstrated just how unreasonable and irrationasl these people are.

Lawrence Simon has run a series of cartoons "Ask the Prophet" and he has decided to not only end the series, but to pull them from the blog. I'm going to miss them, they at least were funny.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blogger not down here.

Lot of Blogger blogs seem to be down this evening. But this one is running just fine.

Some Mighty Fine Shootin

TTyler emails, to let me know about Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team taking out an Islamothug at a distance of 1,250 meters its the longest confirmed kill with a 7.72mm rifle. He had to aim 12 ft high. Pretty amazing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Mexican Army Invades Hudspeth County Again.


Hudspeth County once again is invaded by the Mexican Army. Although this time there was no confrontation, they were wandering around unchallenged.

For the second time in two weeks, American law enforcement officers say men carrying high powered automatic weapons and who appeared to be Mexican soldiers violated the international boundary and crossed into the United States in Hudspeth County, East of El Paso. In the past the Mexican Consulate in El Paso had stated that their Government policy is that no armed Mexican soldiers are allowed closer than three miles to the U.S. border.

The latest incident happened just before sunset on Tuesday night, as a KFOX crew was on the scene. As a Hudspeth County sheriff's deputy was describing what happened during a reported incursion last week - suddenly one 'soldier' emerged from the brush on the Mexican side of the border and darted back under cover. Moments later though, two other men who appeared to be soldiers marched across a clearing, in plan view. Shortly after that, the Deputy spotted soldiers who were well hidden and out of camera range crossing into the United States - attempting to flank the Deputy and the news crew.

According to the Deputy "They are doing the classic thing, flanking around each side of us and actually coming up into the U.S. and trying to figure out what we are doing, they are looking at us very heavily."

Reporter Ben Swann replied, "So I guess it's time to go." The Deputy responded "Yeah, it would definitely be time to get out of here."

Governor Perry going to throw some money to to the 16 members of Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition. but he hasn't activated the National Guard or the Texas Air Force. The Hudspeth Sherriffs Department should not have to face a military force alone.

League City Rounds up Dayworkers.

Max blogs about League City rounding up 60 day workers.

It's true that 60 of the men were eventually released, but what kind of police tactic is that? When there's a murder case or robbery or anything else, is it okay to just round up as many people as possible and sort them out? No... because of a little thing called the Constitution.
I think its about breaking the fashion rules. I've seen these guys, and they are dressed in uncoordinated clothing, with colors clashing, and ratty looking sneakers and often with paint stained clothing. League City has also tried to shut down those unsightly people selling newspapers at the intersections. The city fathers don't want League City to look like just any other place, they want her to be beautiful. The fashionistas must work hard to keep League City beautiful

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Forté Agent 3.2 Released

I've been helping beta test Forté's new news reader Agent version 3.2 It just got released yesterday. I like it! They resolved some issues I've had with Agent for a long time. Mail as well as news supports multiple servers and there are enough options to keep the finickiest of geeks happy. Usenet fans should be pretty happy with this one. I'm pretty happy to have been involved wwith this and am happy with the result.

State of the Union 2006

I thought president Bush's speach last night was pretty good Although the Democratic half of the floor didn't seem to be to impressed at least until he got to Social Security. They cheered at Bush's mention of the failure to pass real reform.

BUSH: The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices: staggering tax increases, immense deficits or deep cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security...

President Bush paused to let them have their moment then he, pulled the ole rope a dope and put the ball in their court.

... yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away.

BUSH: And with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This commission should include members of Congress of both parties and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

It was a most embarrassing moment for the Democrats, they know Social Security is broken, and he put the ball in their court. Tom Elia states it well.

Think about that for a moment: Social Security not only has long term liquidity problems, but it is a program that pays the average recipient about $1,000 per month, where 20-25% of recipients receive its benefits as their sole source of income, and where another 40-45% of recipients have their benefits count for at least half of their retirement income.

Of course, the program's benefits come from a tax rate of about 12.5%, itself the result of about 15 increases since the program's inception.

However, we know how to run the program more efficiently. Just ask retired state, federal, and local government workers, whose retirement plans account for almost 10% of the total capitalization of both the stock and bond markets.

And the Democrats, who themselves offered no alternative to Bush's plan, cheered the inaction on reform?

Absolutely remarkable. 'Party of the People' indeed. As they say in Chicago, "Datz rite. Punch 10*."

If the Republicans were smart, they should save the tape of that moment, and use it in commercials for the next 50 years.
Time will tell if Congress has the heart and guts to deal with this, but every year they waste brings us closer to the big crisis.