Spain Outlaws P2P File-Sharing (or, Nobody Expects the Spanish p2p Ban)

An article from Slashdot (couldn't resist the title):
Spanish Congress has made it a civil offense to download anything via p2p networks, and a criminal offense for ISP's to allow users to file-share, even if the use is fair. There is also to be a tax on all forms of blank media, including flash memory drives. I guess the move towards distributing films legally via BitTorrent is a no go in Spain.
Here is Slashdot's coverage of the tax portion of this law.


Quake turns 10

Late on 22nd June 1996 Quake was uploaded to cdrom.com's archives in the form of 7 1.44MB floppy disk images. Though it wasn't until the 23rd that everyone realised this event. Cue much aggravation on the newsgroups as eager downloaders experienced glorious 2-person FPS gameplay.

Do MMORPG's Cause People to Buy Fewer Games at Retail?

Article from Slashdot (I am really liking the new style over there) reports that the video games industry isn't doing so hot in 2006. Information on a report found at GameSpot indicates that consoles are down, but PC titles are up, led by MMORPG sales. From the article:
"Do MMORPG's benefit the industry by bringing in more actively involved gamers? Or do they bleed money away from other companies in the industry as MMORPG players spend their money on subscriptions and skip out on trying other games that hit the shelf because they already have something to go home to?"


Flash Cartoon

New vairation on the stick figure cartoon theme. Very creative, check it out.


Ubuntu Hacks

Book review from Slashdot on a title that I added to my Amazon wish list as soon as I got the email from O'Reilly.
I recently got hold of a very nice book on Ubuntu called Ubuntu Hacks co-authored by three authors - Kyle Rankin, Jonathan Oxer and Bill Childers. This is the latest of the hack series of books published by O'Reilly. They have made available a rough cut version of the book online ahead of schedule which was how I got hold of the book but as of now you can also buy the book in print. Put in a nutshell, this book is a collection of around 100 tips and tricks which the authors choose to call hacks, which explain how to accomplish various tasks in Ubuntu Linux. The so called hacks range from down right ordinary to the other end of the spectrum of doing specialized things.
Read on for the rest of Ravi's review. All I can say is, wow. After reading the review myself, I have got to run out and get this book now - while I may know the ins and outs of Linux system administration, there are a myriad of little details in setting up a Linux workstation or laptop that are dealt efficiently and effectively in this book. And besides, Ubuntu rocks. "Linux for Human Beings," indeed.

Pirate Party Comes to the U.S.

Slashdot is reporting on a Wired news interview with the Pirate Party of the U.S., which was formed a week after the raid on Pirate Bay. The group patterns itself after Piratpartiet, the Swedish political party associated with The Pirate Bay, and says it wants to reform intellectual property and privacy laws. From their site:
No matter what excuses or rationalizations Big Businesses and Big Government offer, it all comes down to cold, hard corporate greed and state control at the expense of your freedom and well-being. Most Americans have wished that one of the major parties would have the courage to stand up to these undemocratic conglomerates and policies and win back control of the cultural, scientific, and personal spheres for artists, critics, scientists, patients, and citizens from all walks of life. Both the Republicans and Democrats have instead, as a whole, enthusiastically rolled over for Big Media's and Big Pharma's campaign dollars.

While fine groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, and Doctors Without Borders have been fighting these battles for a long time with us, no political party in United States has made the reform of intellectual property and privacy laws their top priority.
I'm actually fascinated by this. It's a different approach to the usual lobbying efforts which seem to only go as far as their coffers can take them, and still have to work within the two-party system. I'm not going to get much into my whole political beliefs here, but I have a firm belief that the current two-party system doesn't work, and hasn't for quite awhile now. I don't know if a group like Pirate Party can have as much success in the US as similar goups like Piratpartiet, the Swedish political party, can have as they enjoy a much different political climate. One might say that we're more of a corporate police state than a democracy anyway, but again I digress, I'm not going to get into this, really...

The Chruch Sign Generator

And another fun time-waster. From the site:
Ever seen those signs in front of churches with the moveable letters? Ever wanted to rearrange the letters to make your own church sign? Well, now you can. Choose a design below, add your text, and a personalized church sign photo will be generated for you! Save it, send it to a friend, put on your website, or use it however you like. Enjoy!
I dunno, I guess I'm just creative enough to put anything all that funny in a church sign...

A New Technique to Quickly Erase Hard Drives

Posted last Saturday on Slashdot (I'm still catching up on my Slashdot Daily Newsletter emails). Stories about 'wiped' hard drives appearing on eBay (and other channels) and being stuffed with personably-identifiable data are legion; rarer are spy planes having to land on enemy territory, but it happened in 2001 to a US spy plane over an un-declared enemy (China, and that's a topic in itself). Dark Reading reports the development of a technique to securely wipe a hard drive in seconds, and which is safe for flying. (The safe for flying criterion rules out things like fun with packing the drives in thermite. Also thermiting the drives may not erase the platters to the standard required, which is moderately interesting itself.


Life Update

So where has my life been going to... well let's see, lately there's been dance recitals, and associated practices, wedding cakes to deliver, nephews to babysit, and spending as much time as possible with my family during the summer hours... Not to mention Father's day.

Oh yes, and then there's the little case of addiction I have entered...

So anyways, here a little self-portrait for you to enjoy:

create a south park


The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

Article from PCWorld's print magazine. And, look who's number one, my employer. I dunno, I think that it's an undeserved reputation more recently, but sometimes it's hard to shake off the bad feelings garnered over the years...


Crashing the Wiretapper's Ball

Wired is running an article with some great investigative journalism. Writer Thomas Green snuck into the ISS World Conference, a trade show featuring communications-tapping equipment and normally a press-free event. There, he got some very interesting quotes from the attendees:
The best conversation I had was with Robert van Bosbeek of the Dutch National Police. I asked him if he was tempted to buy anything.

"Not really," he said with a laugh. "But it's always good to see what's on offer. Basically, we're three or four years ahead of all this."

He said that in the Netherlands, communications intercept capabilities are advanced and well established, and yet, in practice, less problematic than in many other countries. "Our legal system is more transparent," he said, "so we can do what we need to do without controversy. Transparency makes law enforcement easier, not more difficult."
Some pretty scary stuff, but nothing that (hopefully) would be shocking to anyone. Read on to the conclusion.

High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights

In yet another blow against free speech rights, the Supreme Court decided that government employees who report wrongdoing do not enjoy 1st Amendment rights while on the job. From the article:
The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote [...] The ruling was perhaps the clearest sign yet of the Supreme Court's shift with the departure of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the arrival of Alito. [...] Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said: "The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States."