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Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 20:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


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EU Reps Side With Internet Rights on Child Porn Blocking

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 18:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


A European Parliament decision on Monday to remove child pornography images at the source rather than promote Web blocking has been hailed as a success by Internet rights activists.

Members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee ruled that complete removal “at source” must be the main aim in tackling child pornography online and that blocking access to websites is acceptable only in exceptional circumstances — when the host server in a non-E.U. country refuses to cooperate or when procedures take too long.

The original Commission proposal would have made blocking of child porn websites mandatory for all E.U. member states, prompting concern among Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who tend to support Internet freedom.

“The new generation of MEPs has shown it understands the Internet and has courageously rejected populist but ineffective and cosmetic measures in favor of measures aimed at real child protection,” said Joe McNamee, of the European digital rights movement EDRi. “This is a huge and implausible success for an army of activists campaigning to protect the democratic, societal and economic value of the Internet,” he added

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  1. Hearing about decisions like this makes me think I should extend my 4-day stay here in .nl by a factor of years…

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 18:13 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.

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Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin | Unix – InfoWorld

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 17:35 by John Sinteur in category: Software

Hmm…. I score seven of nine.

That can’t be a coincidence.

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  1. I’m kinda curious which 2 you don’t identify with, but I’ll tell you which one made me stop reading the rest of the article: editor arguments are incredibly inane, and the only reason to claim that admins should use vi is to point to the fact that it is more widely available. Claiming that you shouldn’t use it because it’s “the Unix equivalent of Microsoft Word” is fucking retarded. What does he use on Windows, Notepad? Come on. *flush*

  2. I use vi because it’s always available. Try using emacs in a box that’s stopped half-way through a reboot because of a file system inconsistency.

    Anyway, the two I missed. I avoid regular expressions like the plague. I fully agree with Jami Zawinski: Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

    The second one is “We have more in common with medical examiners than doctors”. I won’t attempt to diagnose something to death. I use gut feeling (or, as some call it, experience) to guess how likely it is going to happen again, and I’m quick to decide that it’s going to take me too long to figure out for such a remote possibility of recurrence.

  3. Agreed, that’s a valid reason for preferring vi. His justification made me twitch.

  4. 8/9 (I use sudo. What’s wrong with sudo? I like sudo! OK, I admit, I work for a bank. We’re sudoish people.)

  5. I am not even an admin and I score 9/9. With some variations. I use ‘sudo bash’, I use emacs for regular editing but vi for quick an safe editing, though on a slow connection or heavily loaded machine I might use ed. The vi[m] versus emacs discussion is a non issue to me, they both have their place. Only once I found it amusing to ask a person which he preferred, but that person was RMS and it was in a car full of nerds. And I LOVE regular expressions, I use them even if I don’t need them like when writing a valentine poem. I guess if you score 9/9, you think you are bad, but I’ve seen bad, and let met tell you, you are not bad. Bad types ‘cat | cc; a.out’ on the command line to convert a color image to black and white. I bet you think this song is about you. 🙂

  6. I scored 6. And never been a Unix admin.

Chevron’s Ecuador Judgment May Be `Unenforceable,’ Analyst Says

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 12:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, may never pay a cent of the more than $17 billion in fines and penalties levied by an Ecuadorean court for environmental damage dating back to the 1960s.

Chevron doesn’t have any refineries, storage terminals, oil wells or other properties in Ecuador that could be seized to pressure the company to pay, said Mark Gilman, an analyst at Benchmark Co. LLC in New York. In anticipation of an adverse ruling, Chevron went to court in New York last week to obtain an order shielding the company anywhere in the world from collection efforts related to the case.

The judgment handed down yesterday by a judge in Lago Agrio, a provincial capital near the Colombian border, ordered Chevron to pay an $8.6 billion fine and an equal amount in punitive damages, according to the court ruling obtained by Bloomberg. The judgment stemmed from an 18-year-old lawsuit that alleged Texaco Inc. dumped chemical-laden wastewater in the Amazon River basin from 1964 to 1992. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001.

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Court confirms: IP addresses aren’t people (and P2P lawyers know it)

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 12:34 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Wrapping up the last of the United Kingdom’s notorious copyright infringement "pay up" letter cases, a UK patent and copyright judge has had a major revelation. Just because some lawyer cites an Internet Protocol (IP) address where illegal file sharing may have taken place, that doesn’t mean that the subscriber living there necessarily did the dirty deed. Or is responsible for others who may have done it.

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Search begins for giant new planet

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 10:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you grew up thinking there were nine planets and were shocked when Pluto was demoted five years ago, get ready for another surprise. There may be nine after all, and Jupiter may not be the largest.

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  1. Here is a response of an astronomy enthusiast (who maintains one of the best blogs about astronomy, in my humble opinion):



Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 8:57 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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  1. Or the right hand side could be a picture of a riot police guy unplugging the routers handling backbone traffic into the country…

  2. How well did that work out in Egypt?

  3. I didn’t follow Egypt closely, but my impression is that after the first few days, people didn’t need FB or Twitter to organize–there was a standard routine, and people showed up day after day.

    Whether or not it works at all depends strongly on the topology of the local networks and the amount of government control over the operators. That’s going to vary from country to country. I’d bet that a few governments and dictators are evaluating whether they have “enough” control over the local infrastructure.

    Seems like a good idea to develop a Twitter-like service that’s not tied to one set of central servers to which access can be shut down, but instead using a p2p serverless-torrent-like structure.

  4. [Quote]:

    Google and Twitter went considerably further than merely expressing concern, jointly creating a tool to allow Egyptians to bypass the Internet closure and post messages to Twitter by making telephone calls.

    Google said the "Speak to Tweet" service, which turns voice messages into "tweets," was aimed at "helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time."

  5. Wish Google would make that service available to China.

  6. Fyi relevant article:

Man matches machine in Jeopardy! showdown

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 8:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


Man has drawn with machine in round one of the much-hyped showdown between two wetware Jeopardy! champions and IBM’s Watson supercomputer.

In the early going, it wasn’t looking good for the humans of the world, as IBM’s machine ripped through the easy questions and took a hefty lead over Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the Jeopardy trivia game show that appears on American television for three nights this week.

Jennings, who once had a 74-game Jeopardy winning streak, is known for being at one with the buzzer, but Watson cleaned his clock before the first commercial break. After 15 minutes, it was Jennings $200, Rutter $200, and Watson $5,200.

But as Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek tossed up harder and harder questions – er, answers – Watson suffered from what you might call over-confidence. At one point, when Jennings proposed an incorrect question to a clue, Watson tossed up the same wrong question. The machine can’t hear responses from the other contestants.

If only Alan Turing could have seen this…

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Hands-On: A Plastic Toy With a Gorgeous Screen

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 8:38 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


From the front, then, the Tab 10.1 is easily the equal of the iPad. Then things start to go wrong. It’s very clear that a $500 tablet is impossible for anyone but Apple to build without cutting corners. The Tab not only has a plastic back, but the metal-looking bezel is in fact silvered plastic, and looks as tacky as the dime-store toy-tablets that will surely flood stores soon. This does make the Tab 10.1 light (600g vs. 730g for the 3G iPad), but it also makes it feel cheap. And while overall the Tab 10.1 is thinner than the iPad (10.9mm vs. 13.4mm), the iPad feels thinner thanks to its tapered edges.

So wait, companies have trouble competing with Apple on price? But, but, but…..

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How It’s Spent

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 8:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Explore every nook and cranny of President Obama’s budget proposal.

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  1. The top 5 largest blocks, accounting for 2.8 of the 3.7 trillion dollars, are increasing. Admittedly 3 of the 5 are “mandatory” spending, but still. Seems fundamentally broken, no?

  2. In itself it’s not a problem if blocks grow. For example, if your population grows, you can expect to spend more on things that are in direct relation to population size – for example, printing driver licenses. In those cases, the speed of growth is more interesting. Are the costs growing faster than they should?

  3. If you’re trying to reduce your deficit, and revenues aren’t expected to increase (see under lingering unemployment), it *is* a problem if 80% of your expenses are not only exempt from cuts but are in facy rising. Just think how hard it is to offset a small rise in the 80% with a cut in the remaining 20%.

  4. You’re adding new parameters to your first statement: “revenues aren’t expected to increase”. You’re right the US is in trouble, of course.

  5. You’re crediting me with adding parameters to reality. Thank you for the confidence in my abilities, I appreciate it. :-p :-p

    The background of the article is that Obama wants to take some initiative in narrowing the deficit. All the coverage discussed that angle, it seemed like an obvious part of the context.