Friday, May 28, 2010

Telcos Waking Up To the Value of Your Location

"Cell phone networks represent probably the most effective data collectors of all time: almost everyone's movements and communications are logged in some way by these firms thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones. Now they're beginning to wake up to the value of that data, as researchers mine call records to study travel and social patterns at previously unimaginable scales. Not surprisingly, some are thinking about how to monetize that data, too."

XBMC Discontinues Xbox Support
"The last official release for the XBOX by the XBMC team was Atlantis, over 18 months ago. Since then, one brave soul (Arnova) has been merging code from the main codebase into the XBOX branch in our repository. Because there were many users out there that took advantage of these updates, we had no problem with this. But times have changed. The XBOX has hard limits for what it can handle. Some users are satisfied with these limits, and we encourage them to use XBMC there if they are happy. But it is a popular misconception that official XBOX development is still taking place by the team, so we have decided to set it free. We have enough on our plates already, and worrying about a deprecated platform just increases our workload. A few days ago the XBOX branch was finally removed from our subversion repository."
 I'm modding an Xbox to use XBMC right now.

This is the Future

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Penn. AG Corbett Subpoenas Twitter For Bloggers' Names

"The state attorney general's office has issued a subpoena threatening officials of the social networking service Twitter with arrest unless they reveal the names of two bloggers who have been critical of Attorney General Tom Corbett and his public corruption investigation. Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union told Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV that the court action 'raises grave concerns about abuse of the grand jury process to retaliate against political critics and opponents.' He said Americans 'have a right to criticize government officials and to do so anonymously.'"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

House Votes To Expand National DNA Arrest Database
"Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday. By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults 'arrested for' certain serious crimes. Not one Democrat voted against the database measure, which would hand out about $75 million to states that agree to make such testing mandatory. ... But civil libertarians say DNA samples should be required only from people who have been convicted of crimes, and argue that if there is probable cause to believe that someone is involved in a crime, a judge can sign a warrant allowing a blood sample or cheek swab to be forcibly extracted."

Iran in the 1970s before the Islamic Revolution

To be fair there is a girl wearing a cape.  If the theocracy prevented that, maybe it wasn't so bad.

Australia Air Travelers' Laptops To Be Searched For Porn

"Australian customs officers have been given the power to search incoming travelers' laptops and mobile phones for porn. Passengers must declare whether they are carrying pornography on their Incoming Passenger Card. The Australian government is also planning to implement an Internet filter. Once these powers are in places, who knows how they will be used."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

EFF Says Forget Cookies, Your Browser Has Fingerprints

"Even without cookies, popular browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox give websites enough information to get a unique picture of their visitors about 94 percent of the time, according to research compiled over the past few months by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. [The Research] puts quantitative assessment on something that security gurus have known about for years, said Peter Eckersley, the EFF senior staff technologist who did the research. He found that configuration information — data on the type of browser, operating system, plugins, and even fonts installed — can be compiled by websites to create a unique portrait of most visitors. This means that most Internet users are a lot less anonymous than they believe, Eckersley said. 'Even if you turn off cookies and you use a proxy to hide your IP address, you could still be tracked,' he said."

Monday, May 17, 2010

US Supreme Court Upholds Indefinite Confinement
An anonymous reader points out the news that the US Supreme Court today upheld a law that allows the federal government to keep prison inmates behind bars beyond the end of their sentences, if officials determine they may be "sexually dangerous" in the future. The case involves one Graydon Comstock, who was certified as "dangerous" six days before his 37-month federal prison term for processing child pornography was to end. The vote was 7 to 2. Three of the justices who concurred with the decision raised an objection to the broadness of the language used in the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy.

ACLU Sues To Protect Your Right To Swear
The ACLU is suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets to people who swear. They argue that it is every American's constitutional right to drop an F-bomb. From the article: "'Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime,' said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 'The courts have repeatedly found that profanity, unlike obscenity, is protected speech.'" This is a big f*cking deal.

Best Albums

Went through my playback statistics and made a table of the top 100 albums by plays per track.  Some notes on the data.  First, I replaced something like 40 Mountain Goats albums with two entries to give other bands a chance.  Second, I removed a few entries that had only a single song (and weren't really an album).  Next, I have them sorted by band then by plays/tracks.  I prefer this to just sorting by plays/tracks.  The data only ranges a little over a year.  So, that affects things greatly by promoting more recently discovered bands.  Lastly the CDs I have in my car are greatly underrepresented.

3 Inches of BloodFire Up The Blades1541311.85
3 Inches of BloodHere Waits Thy Doom1181110.73
Against Me!The Disco Before The Breakdown72324.00
Against Me!New Wave1381013.80
Against Me!White People For Peace25212.50
Against Me!Sink, Florida, Sink & Unsubstantiated Rumors20210.00
Against Me!Searching for a Former Clarity136149.71
Against Me!Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose104119.45
Atom And His PackageHamburgers66513.20
Atom And His PackageRedefining Music1861512.40
Atom And His PackageAtom & His Package2442012.20
Atom And His PackageA Society of People Named Elihu2342011.70
boysetsfireIn Chrysalis52510.40
Dale Swanson ProjectRing Tailed Lemur4959.80
David BowieRandom Songs1929.50
Defiance, OhioThe Fear, The Fear, The Fear1401014.00
Defiance, OhioGhost Mice/Defiance, Ohio Split CD4859.60
Every Time I DieThe Big Dirty2641222.00
Every Time I DieGutter Phenonmenon2011118.27
Every Time I DieNew Junk Aesthetic1551311.92
Every Time I DieHot Damn!1141011.40
Genghis TronBoard Up the House1651115.00
Genghis TronDead Mountain Mouth1241012.40
Genghis TronCape Of Hate82810.25
Gentle GiantThree Friends87614.50
Gentle GiantOut Of The Woods The BBC Sessions1951413.93
Gentle GiantGiant for a Day!1221012.20
Gentle GiantAcquiring the Taste96812.00
Gentle GiantOctopus89811.13
Gentle GiantGentle Giant74710.57
Gentle GiantFree Hand80810.00
Gentle GiantThe Power And The Glory8899.78
HatebreedThe Rise Of Brutality1441311.08
HORSE the BandPizza189537.80
HORSE the BandDesperate Living2511220.92
HORSE the BandA Natural Death3311917.42
HORSE the BandSecret Rhythm Of The Universe1101011.00
HORSE The BandThe Mechanical Hand1411310.85
HORSE the Band Beautiful Songs By Men EP 6679.43
Hot Hot HeatElevator1411310.85
Hot Water MusicBYO Split Series, Vol. 130215.00
Hot Water MusicMoonpies for Misfits50412.50
Hot Water MusicFuel for the Hate Game1351112.27
Hot Water MusicA Flight and a Crash1661411.86
Hot Water MusicNever Ender1371211.42
Hot Water MusicNo Division1121110.18
Led ZeppelinPresence166723.71
Led ZeppelinHouses Of The Holy143817.88
Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti2661517.73
Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV85810.63
Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin III1011010.10
Led ZeppelinCoda119129.92
Led ZeppelinIn Through The Out Door6779.57
Man ManRabbit Habits3531327.15
Man ManSix Demon Bag2561319.69
Man ManThe Man in a Blue Turban with a Face1391112.64
ManowarThe Kingdom of Steel: The Very Best of Manowar1781611.13
Math The BandImaginary Everything3853012.83
Math The BandBanned the Math2532112.05
Math The BandAll Good Things, All In Good Time254269.77
Minor ThreatMinor Threat: Complete Discography2722610.46
Misfits12 Hits From Hell2381318.31
MisfitsStatic Age3171817.61
MisfitsLegacy Of Brutality2181316.77
MisfitsEarth A.D.1981216.50
MisfitsCollection II1551015.50
MisfitsFamous Monsters2311812.83
MisfitsAmerican Psycho2121911.16
MisfitsWalk Among Us1351310.38
Most Precious BloodMerciless1701313.08
Most Precious BloodOur Lady of Annihilation1121110.18
Murder City DevilsMurder City Devils1201012.00
RushThe Spirit Of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-19871691511.27
Sound Tribe Sector 9Peaceblaster142159.47
The Blood BrothersYoung Machetes3081520.53
The Blood BrothersCrimes2321317.85
The Blood BrothersBurn Piano Island, Burn1741214.50
The Blood BrothersMarch on Electric Children114912.67
The Blood BrothersThis Adultery Is Ripe1131011.30
The Dillinger Escape PlanIre Works1331310.23
The EmotronIn The Decemberwrist1941910.21
The Fiery FurnacesGallowsbird's Bark3291620.56
The Fiery FurnacesBlueberry Boat2161316.62
The Fiery FurnacesBitter Tea1731511.53
The Fiery Furnaces Widow City 3331620.81
The Fiery Furnaces The Fiery Furnaces EP 1461014.60
The Mountain Goats Studio Stuff939245620.60
The Mountain Goats Live Stuff299725411.80
The Postal ServiceGive Up1061010.60
Tom GabelHeart Burns199922.11
Van Der Graaf GeneratorPawn Hearts71323.67
Van Der Graaf GeneratorThe Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other138623.00
Van Der Graaf GeneratorThe Aerosol Grey Machine2441122.18
Van Der Graaf GeneratorH to He, Who Am the Only One109521.80
Van Der Graaf GeneratorStill Life100520.00
Van Der Graaf GeneratorGodbluff49412.25
YesClose To The Edge (Remastered)29310.73

Sunday, May 16, 2010

LimeWire Likely To Shut Down Soon
"A federal court judge has likely dealt a death blow to LimeWire, one of the most popular and oldest file-sharing systems, according to legal experts. On Wednesday... US District Judge Kimba Wood granted summary judgment in favor of the... [RIAA], which filed a copyright lawsuit against LimeWire in 2006. In her decision, Wood ruled Lime Group, parent of LimeWire software maker Lime Wire, and founder Mark Gorton committed copyright infringement, induced copyright infringement, and engaged in unfair competition. 'It is obviously a fairly fatal decision for them,' said [an industry defense lawyer]. 'If they don't shut down, the other side will likely make a request for an injunction and there's nothing left but to go on to calculating damages.'" The article notes that LimeWire is used by nearly 60 percent of the people who download songs.
Protip: If you have Limewire installed on your PC, you are lost in the sauce.  Or to sum it up nicley one of the first comments:
"But if they shutdown Limewire, where will my sister get all her Windows viruses from?" - eldavojohn

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Statistics Blogs

Because the kids demanded them:
- "This is the blog of the Montclair State University sociology department -- what we've been thinking, reading, seeing, or doing."
- "Sociological Images: Seeing is Believing is designed to encourage all kinds of people to exercise and develop their sociological imagination by presenting brief sociological discussions of compelling and timely imagery that spans the breadth of sociological inquiry."

The first one seems to be largely based on pointing out misleading statistics.  The second one examines images and looks into the story behind them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Electric Beetle Vs Tesla

The beetle does a 11.76 1/4 mile and is virtually silent.

Stop being scared of science
Would you eat something if you knew it was genetically engineered? Do you think you can get more sick from a vaccine than you will if you do nothing? Can science really solve the world's energy and medical woes? The New Yorker's Michael Specter, speaking at this year's TED conference (video posted yesterday), says yes, yes science can. He even went so far as to christen this age "the greatest time there's ever been on this planet."

Star Wars Cover On An Electone

I don't know what an electone is, but I know I need one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cheap Cancer Drug Finally Tested In Humans
"Mentioned on Slashdot a couple of years ago, the drug dichloroacetate (DCA) has finally finished its first clinical trial against brain tumours in humans. Drug companies weren't willing to test a drug they could not patent, so money was raised in the community through donations, auctions, and finally government support, but the study was still limited to five patients, showing extremely positive results in four of them. It also raises the question of where all the money donated to Canadian and other cancer societies, and especially the billions spent buying merchandise with little pink ribbons on it goes, if not to actual cancer research like this."

No one could possibly believe that the money spent on the various colored ribbons actually goes towards the causes they "support" right?  That possibility hadn't even crossed my mind.  People that actually want to do good just make donations to a charity.  People that want to "raise awareness", i.e., look good to others without actually doing anything, buy random ribbons.

German User Fined For Having an Open Wi-Fi

"A German citizen was sued for copyright infringement because copyrighted material was downloaded through his network while he was on vacation. Although the court did not find him guilty of copyright infringement, he was fined for not having password-protected his network: 'Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,' the court said."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Genetic Testing Coming To a Drugstore Near You

"The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Walgreens is slated to begin selling genetic-testing kits priced from $20 to $30 apiece that can tell people whether they're likely to get breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease, become obese, or suffer from a range of other maladies. However, to get the results of various tests, shoppers will have to fork over an additional $79 for drug-response results, $179 for 'pre-pregnancy planning' results, $179 for health condition results, or $249 for a combination of the three. Pathway Genomics and other companies already offer such tests online, but Walgreens will be the first brick-and-mortar retailer to sell them. FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley says Pathway overstepped its bounds when it announced its plans to market the tests directly to the consumer at 6,000 of Walgreen's 7,500 stores and wants Pathway Genomics to submit data showing that its tests give accurate results. 'The claims have limitations based on existing science,' says Riley, 'and consumers should not be making important medical and lifestyle decisions based on these tests without first consulting a health-care professional.' Walgreen responded that FDA clearance is not required to sell the kit in its stores; and anyway, the drugstore chain already sells other diagnostic and testing products such as pregnancy tests, paternity tests, and drug tests."

All Is Well

As I'm sure all of you noticed, my site has been down since Sunday morning.  I didn't make a post about this so as to avoid widespread panic.  I sent an email, but apparently to an invalid address.  Last night I finally got around to opening a trouble ticket and after a few hours of back and forth it seems to be working fine now.

Dan Barker on FOX News

I don't often post atheist stuff.  However, this guy manages to cover just about every point against the government backing religious events in a nice neat 5 minute package.

The Door to Hell
The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971 geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas.  The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas.  Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell.

Next to capturing the gas, flaring is safer and friendlier to the environment than releasing the methane into the atmosphere as methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

9750 Words on Elena Kagan
Below, we discuss the most significant aspects of Elena Kagan’s experience and writings as they relate to the Supreme Court.  We also consider various criticisms that have been raised against Kagan, including with respect to her views on the military (supposedly too liberal) and executive power (supposedly too conservative), as well as the prospect that she will be required to recuse from a substantial number of cases early in her tenure on the Court. We separately discuss the specific votes she likely will receive for and against her confirmation.  Each separate section below is identified by its author(s).

Website Sells Pubic Lice
A British website called will help you prove that there is literally nothing you can't find online by selling you pubic lice. A disclaimer on the site says the creators "do not endorse giving people lice," and the lice are for "novelty purposes only." The company also boasts about a facility "where we do all of our parasite husbandry and carefully considered selective breeding." Three different packages are available: "Green package - One colony that can lay as many as 30 eggs for about $20. Blue package - Three colonies to share with your friends or freeze a batch or two for about $35. Red package - A vial of 'shampoo-resistant F-strain crabs' which can take up to two weeks to kill for about $52."
Now you're going to have to be more careful when accepting underwear from people.

How Cul-de-Sacs Are Killing Your Community

The Harvard Business Review has a piece this month on research by Lawrence Frank, Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Transportation at the University of British Columbia, on the effects of cul-de-sacs in neighborhoods in King County, Washington. He found that residents in areas with the most interconnected streets travel 26% fewer miles by automobile than those in areas with many cul-de-sacs. Meanwhile, recent studies by Frank and others show that the higher a neighborhood’s overall walkability, the greater the amount of walking and biking— which means a drop in per capita air pollution, fuel use, and body mass index.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Obama Will Nominate Elena Kagan To the Supreme Court

"President Obama has made his choice to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court that was left by the retirement of Justice Stevens. According to this article that choice will be Elena Kagan."
At her confirmation hearing, Kagan also drew criticism for arguing that battlefield law, including indefinite detention without a trial, could apply outside of traditional battlefields.[25] The New York Times paraphrases Kagan as saying "that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law—indefinite detention without a trial—even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than a physical battle zone.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

GIMP Resynth vs. Photoshop Content Aware

"Just after Adobe released videos showing off the content-aware feature of Photoshop CS5, the GIMP community answered by showing the resynthesizer plugin, which has been available for some time and can do a similar job. However, are they really comparable? (In original Portuguese, but really, the images are pretty much self-explaining.) Compare them side by side removing the same objects from different kinds of images. Results do vary, but the most interesting part may be seeing the different results and trying to understand the logic of each algorithm."

Daily Events

So Google changed their search results page again.  I checked to verify that Oracal still worked with the new layout (it does).  For some reason I decided to make a script that would find the current top news item and then ask the Oracal about it.  So now you can get all your news from the Oracal.  It is updated daily at about 8:20am.

Edit: Now 100% more actually working.

Why Aren't There More Terrorist Attacks?
There are actually several answers to this question. One, terrorist attacks are harder to pull off than popular imagination -- and the movies -- lead everyone to believe. Two, there are far fewer terrorists than the political rhetoric of the past eight years leads everyone to believe. And three, random minor terrorist attacks don't serve Islamic terrorists' interests right now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Operation Mincemeat
To fashion the container that would keep the corpse “fresh,” before it was dumped off the coast of Spain, Mincemeat’s planners turned to Charles Fraser-Smith, whom Ian Fleming is thought to have used as the model for Q in the James Bond novels. Fraser-Smith was the inventor of, among other things, garlic-flavored chocolate intended to render authentic the breath of agents dropping into France and “a compass hidden in a button that unscrewed clockwise, based on the impeccable theory that the ‘unswerving logic of the German mind’ would never guess that something might unscrew the wrong way.” The job of transporting the container to the submarine that would take it to Spain was entrusted to one of England’s leading race-car drivers, St. John (Jock) Horsfall, who, Macintyre notes, “was short-sighted and astigmatic but declined to wear spectacles.” At one point during the journey, Horsfall nearly drove into a tram stop, and then “failed to see a roundabout until too late and shot over the grass circle in the middle.”

How To Prevent Terrorist Attacks In Crowded Areas
In the wake of Saturday’s failed Times Square car bombing, it’s natural to ask how we can prevent this sort of thing from happening again. The answer is stop focusing on the specifics of what actually happened, and instead think about the threat in general.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hyperbole and a Half

This is one of those things I came across several times, but didn't realize it was different posts on the same site.  It is good.