I nicked it

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 18:26 | Posted in copyright, entertainment, it | 3 Comments

This comic is intended to be stolen. Since it has a very good point I went ahead and nicked it.

via RA-Blog

Authorize my ass

Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 16:31 | Posted in Freedom of speech, internet, it, Legal | 2 Comments
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Inventor-link web site has a weird understanding of freedom of speech. Their Privacy and User Agreement suggests that linking to the web site without their permission is prohibited:

By using this site you agree and understand that the HTML code, look, feel, content, company name, logo, text, and any likeness or derivative of such content is the sole property of Inventor-Link LLC and may not be used in any manner without the expressed written permission of Inventor-Link LLC. Furthermore, we strictly prohibit any links and or other unauthorized references to our web site without our permission.

Inventor-link is represented by the law firm Dozier Internet Law who have similar terms at their web site. The firm goes even further than that. They are trying to forbid viewing the HTML code of their web site:

We also own all of the code, including the HTML code, and all content. As you may know, you can view the HTML code with a standard browser. We do not permit you to view such code since we consider it to be our intellectual property protected by the copyright laws. You are therefore not authorized to do so.

Authorize my ass! No way can this sort of limitations of free speech be enforced.

The whole story can be read at Consumer Law & Policy Blog.

Finland: parliament’s new voting system is a trash

Friday, June 15, 2007 at 5:50 | Posted in Finland, it | Leave a comment

The voting system of the Finnish parliament was, according to Helsingin Sanomat supposed to be replaced during the parliament’s summer recess. Installation of the new system has been postponed by one year. The reason is that those brand new devices won’t work!

The MP’s are going to get desktop terminals through which they can vote, ask for floor and report their presence. They can also follow the agenda of the session. The system also includes a WLAN which would allow the parliamentarians to use their laptops in the chamber.

A group of conscripts tested the new system in the basement of the parliament during the spring. It turned out that the system could not handle several votes within a short period. It frequently slowed down and even collapsed. Also, the voting results were not always correct.

The parliamentary committee in charge of office and logistics of the house demands the supplier TietoEnator to fix the bugs during the autumn. Unfortunately for the MP’s, the system can only be installed during a parliamentary recess because the installation works would interfere with the parliamentary proceedings. Alas, a delay of a year is evident.

I just hope that the old system is not going to crash meanwhile. Then again, it would perhaps serve the parliamentarians well if they had to stand up when they vote or want to address each other rather than push a button. I motion to motion. ūüėõ

Helpdesk

Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 6:49 | Posted in it, Not serious, youtube | 7 Comments
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This Norwegian video (with subtitles in English) features a medieval helpdesk. It was judged by Computerworld.com as the funniest tech video in YouTube. It was aired by the Norwegian TV in 2001.

via idg.no

Remarks to Merkel’s video podcast

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 14:47 | Posted in computer, Germany, internet, it, technology | 14 Comments
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I happened to see the latest video podcast of the German chancellor Angela Merkel. Her manuscript is also available as a pdf file. Which brings me to my first remark.

Why on earth would somebody publish a text in the web as a pdf file? The file format is only motivated when communicating with a printing house where the exact layout of a document is crucial. That is not the case with most texts published in the web and certainly not with the chancellor’s speech, unless she suggests that the form of it is more important than what she has to say.

As a web user I have to download the document and open it with a separate software. It is particulary odd that elementary user accessibility is so thoughtlessly ignored as the chancellor is actually speaking about high IT in context of an IT top meeting that the German government is organizing in Potsdam-Babelsberg. How could you trust on somebody’s competence in the area if they do not even know how to publish text in HTML format in the web?

Who would you say is the inventor of the computer? There is obviously no easy answer to the question, just as no particular person can be credited for inventing radio, television or cure for Alzheimer’s (which is yet to be invented). Nevertheless, the chancellor is bold enough to claim the honor of inventing the computer to Germans. I wonder if her speech writers were thinking of Wilhelm Schickard who constructed a mechanical calculating device as early as 1623.

Ms Merkel mentions several usages for computers and modern cell phones, including that it is possible to hook up to the Internet with them and even watch her video podcast. She does nevertheless not suggest that watching TV or listening to the radio would be one of the prime usages for these devices. Then why is it that her government is imposing a public broadcasting fee for computers to take effect in less than two weeks?

According to the chancellor, several work shops and brain trusts are already processing ideas for the IT top meeting. Among the ideas is inventing a brand new search engine:

Und wir werden eine neue Suchmaschine entwickeln, damit auch Deutschland hier besser an die Spitze kommt.

Challenging Google is ambitious indeed. One wonders, though, if the real purpose of reinventing the wheel would not be to produce a search engine that would automatically censor off all critical web contents. So far German courts and business men like Andreas Kodsi have failed to impose censorship on Google’s search results.

The chancellor is unhappy that many of the high tech products that are being bought in Germany have been produced in USA and a number of Asian countries. Would that by any chance be because it is cheaper to produce them elsewhere? It is positive per se that Ms Merkel announced allocation of six billion additional euros for research and development within IT field. But her remark in that context makes one wonder:

Aber das reicht nat√ľrlich nicht, sondern wir m√ľssen in den einzelnen Bereichen daf√ľr sorgen, dass auch die rechtlichen Bedingungen so stimmig sind, dass Nutzer und Entwickler, dass Politiker und diejenigen, die ein Interesse an neuen Produkten haben, die richtigen Rahmenbedingungen vorfinden.

Surely, the chancellor is not referring to German made computers with preinstalled government trojans and other spyware which would make it so much easier for the government to surveil the usage of computers and cell phones under pretence of fighting terrorism? Then again, she might be thinking of precisely that.

God’s mills grind slowly

Friday, August 4, 2006 at 19:30 | Posted in computer, it | Leave a comment
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The BBC writes about a bug in the Norton anti-virus software that used to paralyze a software called Visual Liturgy before the bug was eventually fixed by Symantec. The antivir recognized a crucial file in Visual Liturgy as spyware and deleted it. As a result, Visual Liturgy did not work, causing enormous trouble for a large number of Church of England parishes that rely on the software with planning their services.

Church House Publishing, the creator of Visual Liturgy, are particulary unhappy about what they regard as an unusually long time it took Symantec to address the issue. According to a spokesman of the publisher:

“As Christians, we’re used to not always getting answers to our prayers immediately, but this seemed to take the biscuit,” said the spokesman.

Then again, was it not written that God’s mills grind slowly?

Microsoft fined by EU Comission

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at 13:55 | Posted in eu, it, Legal | 1 Comment
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BBC writes that Microsoft has been fined 280.5 million ‚ā¨ by the EU Comission “for failing to comply with an anti-competition ruling”. EU ruled in 2004 that Microsoft must provide its rivals with information about Windows opsys to enable them to write software that would run smoothly under Windows.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes says:

I regret that, more than two years after the decision… Microsoft has still not put an end to its illegal conduct.

Windows is a major example of a closed system which tends to exclude rival software. Every Windows user must be familiar with “illegal function” error messages that are frequently received from the opsys because a software is just doing what it is supposed to do. But I still doubt if this fine will produce an operating system and applications that run without those irritating error messages.

Edit: AFP reports that Microsoft are going to continue their appeals to the European Court, according to general counsel Brad Smith:

We will ask the European courts to determine whether our compliance efforts have been sufficient and whether the commissions unprecedented fine is justified.

Good news and bad news

Friday, June 30, 2006 at 6:53 | Posted in Denmark, internet, it, technology, wifi | Leave a comment

The good news is that eight wireless free hotspots will be opened in Copenhagen tomorrow. The hot spots are the first in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten writes.

The bad news is that you can not surf the web through those hot spots. You can only access a tourist portal and the city’s web site.

In another article, Jyllands-Posten writes that some new EU member countries have passed Denmark in on line access to public services. I just wonder why.

Maybe it is the wrong concept

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 22:54 | Posted in Finland, helsinki, it, technology, wifi | Leave a comment
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Ken Belson writes in the New York Times about WiFly, a wireless network in Taipei accessable for the reasonable prize of 12,50 $ a month:

Despite WiFly’s ubiquity – with 4,100 hot spot access points reaching 90 percent of the population – just 40,000 of Taipei’s 2.6 million residents have agreed to pay for the service since January. Q-Ware, the local Internet provider that built and runs the network, once expected to have 250,000 subscribers by the end of the year, but it has lowered that target to 200,000.

What they are asking for the service is certainly not much but it is apparently more than people are willing to pay in a market saturated by comprehensive free wifi access. As Peter Shyu testifies in the NYT article, there is no problem to find a free wifi hot spot in the Taiwanese capital.

So what kind of an approach could work better in point of view of the service provider? In my location in the outskirts of Helsinki, there is no wifi access that I could reach at home which means that I need a wired web connection. A number of ISP’s provide it here so I have a modest choice of the operator.

I was very glad to detect that my ISP recently announced that they are going to put up 100 wifi hot spots in central Helsinki. The first spots are already in operation. The nice part in my point of view is that the access is free for their customers who are paying for the wired connection.

So instead of competing with the modest number of existing free hot spots, my ISP is hoping to use the free access to their wifi spots as an additional argument to make their wired connection more attractive. Which means that my next computer is absolutely going to be a lap top. I will be able to hook it up at home and surf wireless in down town without an extra cost.

A simple concept to increase costumer satisfaction. Once the number and coverage of free hot spots in Helsinki will reach the Taiwanese level, it will of course become obsolete. But so will I by then, in all likelyhood.

Four whealers more likely to break law

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at 0:20 | Posted in great britain, it, traffic | Leave a comment
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A survey shows that drivers of four wheel drive vehicles in London are four times as likely to ignore the law by talking to a cellphone without a hands-free kit than drivers of other cars, cellular-news writes. Four whealers were also more often than others detected to ignore the law compelling drivers to wear a seat belt. Among the drivers of four wheal engine cars, those who broke one of the laws were also more likely to break the other.

The report finds the pattern to be consistent with the theory of risk compensation:

Although four wheel drive vehicles are safer in a crash, their owners may be placing themselves and other road users at increased risk of injury.

The study was limited to private passenger cars. According to hearsay evidence, drivers of delivery vans would be even more likely to ramble into their cells without hands free equipment.

Verleubnungsgeb√ľhr

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 16:19 | Posted in Blogosphere, Finland, Germany, hyperlink, internet, it, Media, Not serious, TV | 3 Comments

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the absurd plans in Denmark and Germany to impose a TV license fee to computers connected to the Internet. The justification behind the media tax is that it is technically possible to watch TV with such a computer.

The TV license is collected in most European countries to finance the public broadcasting services. The rules and regulations are a bit different in each of the countries but basically you have to pay the fee if you have a TV receiver regardless of what you watch. Just having a television in your home justifies the assumption that you watch public television because it is possible to do so with the TV set you have.

As from next year, Germany is going to introduce a compulsory TV fee for computers attatched to the web. The fee will be 17,83 ‚ā¨ a month. I do not know the avergae price of a DSL connection in Germany but I pay 22,90 ‚ā¨ a month for my max 1 Mb/s connection here in Finland. The current TV fee in Finland is around 17 ‚ā¨ a month depending on whether you pay for three, six or 12 months at a time. This would mean that if a similar Internet tax were to be introduced here, my access to the web would cost me almost twice as much as it does today. I do not have a TV set.

Farlion has come to the brilliant idea of imposing a blogging fee for public broadcasting and other government organisations reading his blog. The fee is, of course, 17,83 ‚ā¨ a month for each IP address that he will detect in his logs. And because it will be technically possible for the organisations to return to his blog, he is going to send out the bill on a monthly basis.

I just thought that I could join Farlion in this action to show my solidarity with the German Internet users. But I am going to call it the slander fee. The German term is going to be Verleubnungsgeb√ľhr whereby the intentional misspelling is identical to that of Callboy Torsten.

Basically, I am going to impose this slander fee on German visitors who detect anything in my blog that they judge to constitute a slander. Reading any of my blog content that the reader detects and recognizes as non slanderous will be free of charge. The list of organisations includes but is not limited to public broadcasters, members of Bundestag, public prosecutors, government agencies and ministries of all sorts except public libraries where members of public have access to the Internet.

In addition to the slander fee, the German Health Ministry will be imposed a slander linking fee, Verleubnungsverlinkungsgeb√ľhr because they no doubt have all technical possibilities to put up hyperlinks to anything in my blog that they may find slanderous. So it will be 17,83 ‚ā¨ a month for everybody else conserned but 35,66 ‚ā¨ for all IPs under the Health Ministry. My bank details will be sent together with the first invoices.

As many German bloggers are enthusiastic about Farlion’s idea, he has asked for assistance from various segments of the blogging community. Lawyers are asked to help him draft the rules of the blogging fee and web designers are expected to deliver propositions to a special blogging fee button to be included in participating blogs. The blogging fee is about to become a pointless demonstration against a pointless media tax which is exactly why this blog, while outside German jurisdiction, is supporting it.

Odd transparency

Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 11:24 | Posted in crime, it, USA | Leave a comment

New York Times writes that a lap top with personal data of 13.000 District of Columbia employees and retirees has been stolen from the home of an employee of ING U.S. Financial Services. The company administrates D.C’s retirement plans.

The computer contained social security numbers and other personal data of the employees. The data was not encrypted. The lap top was not pass word protected.

The data could just as well have been published in the Internet. No elementary steps were taken to protect the identity of government employees. And the company delayed to report about the theft because they had no idea what data was in the lap top. This is so unbelievable that it just has to be true.

What kind of a government can allow its contractor to handle sensitive data this way? What kind of a contractor would allow a member of their staff to take such sensitive data home from the office? Who is going to be held responsible? It would have to be somebody much higher up in the hierarchy than the unfortunate person who actually lost the lap top.

Edit:The company’s web site has the slogan: “Your future. Made easier” displaying a casual person with a lap top. I do not think they wanted to make it that easy.

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