Bob’s Junkmail, 201
Today is Brian’s (my eldest toddler) birthday! In singing “Happy Birthday,” being a family of strict copyright adherents, we used to be concerned about violating the copyright of the song. We would hide in a closet to elude the RIAA Stasi. (Or maybe I just made that up.)
I have read several times about the two older women who collect a couple million dollars a year in royalties on the song “Happy Birthday.” I’m not sure if it’s really two women who own it, but I do know a lot of people have had to pay royalties on it. Chain restaurants usually require their staff to sing a different birthday song for their customers in order to avoid legal hassles.
After years of this, it turns out that the copyright on “Happy Birthday” is invalid. At least, that’s what it looks like. You never know for sure until some lawyers collect a whole lot of money to hear a judge say Yea or Nay.
Jenny Leann, Mike’s fourth runt, was born April 18. But she’s getting married today. In fact, if one of them doesn’t back out, she and Adam will be married by the time I get around to emailing this.
Next week, some of us are planning to take off and sail from Hawaii to Midway to the Aleutians and up the Alaska Peninsula. It’s a shortcut to Seattle. You can check our progress (or lack thereof) at the Minnow blog:
It seems like the U.S. Government hollers “state secret!” whenever they don’t want something made public in court. But how do we know they’re anything more than embarrassments?
How do you slow down a botnet? The same way you build one.
How do you build a botnet? SQL Injection seems to work pretty well — a few hundred thousand servers were hacked recently using SQL and a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS).
Viruses, trojans, worms, adware, spyware, and underwear are terms for things most people would rather not have inside their computers. The first five are considered malicious software, or malware. Now, malware authors are even adding End User License Agreements (EULA) to their packages. I think they’re serious, too! They say if you use their malware, you agree to keep on buying from them or they’ll turn your binary code over to the anti-virus companies.
Some recent digital break-ins of U.S. Government computers have left evidence pointing to China. It’s possible that the Chinese government may be hacking into computers worldwide for spying and other recreational activities.
When a Chinese company makes chips used in PCs, did you ever wonder what’s to keep the Chinese Government from putting some malicious code in the chip that leaves a computer insecure? Funny… the U.S. Department of Defense has been wondering the same thing.
The Department of Homeland Security owns some of the sites that have been attacked by hackers recently. Congress thought that was particularly embarrassing, so they are proposing a law that requires the Department of Homeland Security to reduce the number of successful attacks on its network. They didn’t mention how this should be accomplished.
For more than 30 years, I’ve expected solid state drives to take over the hard drive market. But they just keep making the mechanical magnetic drives smaller, faster, cheaper, more reliable, and with higher capacity. Solid state hard drives are available now, but they still cost more than traditional magnetic hard drives. Toshiba projects a solid state drive boom in about three years.
This is cool.
You might have heard about GPS tracking devices. Some people and many novels have the impression that a GPS tracker transmits a vehicle’s location to a satellite. That can certainly be done, but it generally requires an antenna and some kind of satellite phone.
A more efficient way to do it is to have the GPS transmit it’s location using a cell phone. You can pick up a disposable phone for about $20. Then you can build a GPS tracker:
Last summer, Ármann Höskuldsson and a few others discovered a volcano. It’s under the ocean, about 90 miles south of Iceland.
Rather than a long rant, I thought I’d leave you with some RIAA / MPAA articles that you can peruse or skip at your leisure.
File sharing is a more serious crime than bank robbery, burglary, and fraud, according to NBC lawyer Rick. He said that society wastes entirely too much money policing crimes like burglary, fraud, and bank robbing when it should be doing something about file sharing instead. He really said that. He was not even joking!
AT&T has agreed to spy on its customers for the recording industry. Maybe they forgot that it’s their customers who ultimately pay their salaries.
Canadian Copyright myths:
“Campuses swimming in flood of infringement notices from RIAA”
The House of Representatives has passed a controversial (among computerists) Pro-IP Act by the narrow margin of 408 to 11. We have the best Congress money can buy.
Among other things, the bill allows the RIAA to seize your house as part of their “settlement.” Or your computers. I hope this part of the law will be toned down a bit.
Does making a file available constitute copyright infringement if nobody copies it? The RIAA says yes. More and more judges are disagreeing.
The RIAA is lobbying for state laws to support their moneymaking extortion campaign. And I am completely unbiased on this subject.
NBC and Hulu:
The RIAA tricked Lindsey McDougall into appearing in an anti-piracy video. He made his position clear: “I would never be part of this big record industry funded campaign to crush illegal downloads.”
Download music? You are a public nuisance in Los Angeles.
Rethinking intellectual Property
India launched a 230-ton PSLV-C9 (http://www.isro.org/pslv-c9/mission.htm) rocket with ten satellites into orbit in April. Eight of the ten satellites were “nanosatellites” with a combined weight of about 50 kg (110 lbs). The other two satellites weighed 690 kg and 83 kg at liftoff.
The U.S. Government proudly uses its no-fly list to keep terrorists, armed combatants, and unruly Democrats off airplanes. The no-fly list is a list of names.
Someone has finally figured out that sometimes, believe it or not, two people might have the same name. So, after years of harassing people unlucky enough to share a name with some persona non grata, the government has decided to add birth dates to the no fly list.
In addition to cutting back on the false positives, the terrorists won’t have to change their names any more to board a plane — only their birthdays.
Some people don’t like U.S. Customs searching their laptops at the border. I might not mind too much, if it didn’t make the line too long and they wouldn’t mess around with my Windows settings. Homeland Security tends to rearrange things in my bags when I travel, sometimes causing damage. I would be pretty irritated if they rearranged the files on my laptop.
Microsoft sells the Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor. It’s a set of applications on a USB thumb drive that bypasses Windows security. It’s for police computer forensic work. It’s pretty interesting.
But next time your find yourself managing the computer systems for a large criminal enterprise, such as Congress, you may want to consider some alternate computer security.
Raul Castro has legalized cell phones and personal computers in Cuba. Internet access is still banned.
Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, points out that vaccines do NOT cause autism. He’s right. It’s not an opinion, it is a fact.
While on the subject of bad science, cell phones do not cause cancer. Unless you eat them.
Some people were clearing land for some construction southeast of Bogota, Colombia. They found a 12 acre burial site with artifacts and bones ranging from the first century to the 1500’s.
A notam is a “notice to airmen.” It would probably have been changed to “notice to aerohumans” by now, but then they would be notahs instead of notams and that would confuse people.
When you fly an airplane somewhere, you can and should check to see if there are any notams along your route and especially at your destination. It might be a bad idea to land at an airport that is closed because there is wet concrete on the runway.
For example, here are the notams for Adak, Alaska today:
05/009 – RWY 5/23 PAEW DLY 1530-0330. WIE UNTIL 09 JUN 03:30 2008. CREATED: 19 MAY 17:28 2008
03/017 – RWY 18/36 NONSTD MARKING. WIE UNTIL UFN. CREATED: 24 MAR 14:56 2008
01/029 – TWY G LGTS OTS. WIE UNTIL UFN. CREATED: 31 JAN 15:36 2008
7/2950 – FI/T ADAK, ADAK ISLAND, AK. RNAV (GPS) RWY 23 ORIG … CIRCLING: MDA 1540/HAA 1522 CAT D. WIE UNTIL UFN. CREATED: 02 NOV 13:11 2007
- EXCYZ One departure procedure is not authorized until further notice.
- Runway 5/23 has personnel and equipment working on it from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm from now until June 9.
- Runway 18/36 has nonstandard markings.
- Taxiway G lights are out of service.
- The RNAV GPS 23 approach, circling, now has a minimum descent altitude of 1,540 feet for category D (fast) aircraft, until further notice.
Last week, the weather briefers and online system lost touch with the notam database for about 20 hours. So people planning to fly to Adak or anywhere else in the U.S. did not have access to the current notams. It didn’t cause a lot of crashes, but it put some extra workload on the air traffic controllers who had to inform pilots of the notams that applied to them.
How can you lose an important system like this for 20 hours? It’s easy.
Step 1. Delay replacing old hardware.
Step 2. Enjoy a hard drive failure during a database update.
Step 3. Install new hardware.
Step 4. Copy corrupted database from step 2 onto new hardware.
Step 5. Scratch head and wonder why the new hardware is so slow.
The system also had information about temporary flight restrictions, which are the temporary restricted areas that surround those politicians who are a lot more important than the rest of us. Amazingly, not a single plane crashed into any of those politicians during the notam outage.
Jupiter has three spots now, probably caused by global warming. Really. It is a different globe than Earth, but the temperature at Jupiter’s equator has risen a bit, a possible cause of the two additional storm spots. Incidentally, these spots are big. The largest has about twice the diameter of the earth.
The Phoenix has landed — on Mars.
The U.S. has been fighting (using words, not weapons) Antigua over online gambling. The U.S. wants Antigua to stop it. Antigua and the World Trade Organization say there’s nothing wrong with it. After several back and forths, Antigua says they’re going to suspend copyright protection for U.S. companies now.
Antigua is an island country in the Caribbean with about 69,000 people.
Amazon’s web site went away for a few hours yesterday. Amazon called it an “unplanned event.” I thought that part was obvious. I guess this is a big deal for a company the size of Amazon.
A sailboat off Lanai. Maui is in the distance.
On top of Lanai:
On top of Molokai:
The controversial Super Ferry:
North slope, Molokai:
Mokapu Island, 360 feet tall:
I think these are red tailed tropicbirds, but they might be bald eagles:
North shore of Molokai:
This is the lighthouse on Kalaupapa peninsula, where the Molokai leper colony used to be.
Military work on the private island of Niihau:
Lehua Crater, off Niihau:
The USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor:
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