Archive for August, 2005

This is where our tax money goes

August 31, 2005

If you were just reading boingboing you have probably seen the story about the priorities of the new interim Attorney General. It turns out that Alex Acosta does not really care about terrorism, organized crime and child abuse. These are low priority objectives for him. Check out the article linked from boingboing yourself.

According to Mr. Acosta the most important job of American law enforcement right now is fighting pornography. And please do not make a mistake. It’s not child pornography we are talking about here – it’s the standard, run of the mill consenting adult porn that he is after. Mr. Acosta actually ordered to take FBI agents off child pornography cases and assign them to important tasks such as closing down adult video and book stores in residential neighborhoods:

Sources say Acosta was told by the FBI officials during last month’s meeting that obscenity prosecution would have to be handled by the crimes against children unit. But that unit is already overworked and would have to take agents off cases of child endangerment to work on adult porn cases. Acosta replied that this was Attorney General Gonzales’ mandate.

I find this very disturbing. They wasting taxpayer money by fighting windmills. It is absolutely ridiculous. These resources should be used to fight serious crime and terrorism. I think pornography is great – and certainly it is the least of our problems. For god’s sake, there are people out there strapping bombs to their chests! This is really not a good time to be chasing pornographers!

But the most disturbing fact is that, Mr. Acosta thinks that fighting pornography is more important from preventing child abuse! Next time you hear about some deranged pedophile that committed some heinous crime, and got away, remember to thank Alex Acosta. Thanks to him, the police officers and FBI agents who could have been tracking this guy were busy harassing tax paying adult industry entrepreneur! I think this is outrageous.

Talking about Google Talk

August 30, 2005

I just found this very insightful article on Google talk. It’s a very interesting read. He makes a very good point. It’s great that Google decided to use Jabber but, talk.google.com does not communicate with other Jabber servers.

Google has chosen not to embrace this most wonderful aspect of Jabber. Instead, they’ve created just another isolated IM network. As a Google Talk user, a person has a jabber address (@gmail.com, mirroring their email address) but the Google Jabber servers do not talk with the other Jabber servers on the net. A Google Talk user is just as cut off from the world as an AIM user is.

In other words, while Google uses the Jabber protocol, they do not participate in the Jabber network, nor do they plan to do it in the future. From the official release notes:

We look forward to federating with any service provider who shares our belief in enabling user choice and open communications. We do believe, however, that it is important to balance openness with ensuring that we maintain a safe and reliable service that protects user privacy and blocks spam and other abuses. We are using the federation opportunity with EarthLink and Sipphone to develop a set of guidelines by which all members of the federated network can work together to ensure that we protect our users while maximizing the reach of the network.

I don’t know about you, but for me this passage above quite clearly indicate that a privately run Jabber server of Joe Shmoe will not connect to the google talk network. At least not without jumping through major hoops and possibly paying some “federation fee”.

I can understand why wouldn’t they want to open up their service to all Jabber servers. It does create room for abuse – for example, rogue servers set up to spim the google network. So keeping some kind of control over the communication is not a bad idea. But I do not like the “federation” system.

It would not be hard to open it to general public. You could for example register your server with google and sign an agreement to their Terms of Service. This way google could whitelist Jabber servers, and ban the ones that break TOC by allowing large amounts of spim to leak out to Google Talk. This would shift the responsibility to moderate non-google network nodes to admins who run them.

If they launch this type of operation, they could really become a major player that could crush the competition. If Joe Average can run a Jabber service in their garage and be able to connect with Google Talk, then Jabber can become the de-facto IM standard – just like SMTP became the standard for email. It could start a revolution which would send AIM, MSN and Yahoo packing – or even force some of them to work on Jabber compatibility to stay competitive.

If they keep talk.google.com sequestered from Jabber network, and simply “federate” with partnering companies, nothing will change in the IM world. In fact, they are risking being made irrelevant by the sheer amount of users subscribing to AIM. Why would anyone want to switch to a brand new IM network, if all their friends use AIM? The only way Google can crush AIM’s dominance is to establish a standard in AIM communication by promoting the distributed Jabber based IM networks.

MPAA == Abusive Colonialist?

August 30, 2005

When I read this, it actually made me want to puke. Just read the quote below and tell me what you think about it:

According to this press release from the international arm of the more familiar Motion Picture Association of America, the MPA “has obtained a general search and seizure warrants order covering the entire city [of Delhi]. The order permits police to search any premises suspected of containing pirated products, and permits officers to open locked premises without delay.”

Please note that general search warrants are illegal in US. They are prohibited by 4th amendment. These types of search warrants were commonly used by British colonial forces – and were one of the many reasons that prompted the Revolution. In other words, the concept of general warrants goes against everything we believe in as a nation.

It is very disturbing that an American business organization is actively sponsoring such a blatant abuse of authority. The fact that general warrants may be legal in India is not an excuse to use them. This is simply wrong.

How can we ever justify sending peace missions abroad to fight blatant abuse of human rights or civil liberties such as this in some countries, when our movie industry is actively sponsoring such practices in other parts of the world?

This is very, very wrong. Holywood should be ashamed!

Is CC bashing a new fad?

August 30, 2005

Why do people like Dvorak and Orlowski care about Creative Commons Licensing that much? They both write pages upon pages on how evil CC is without ever actually bothering to read the license itself. This is pathetic! These guys would probably love to rag on GPL too but they are most likely scared shitless of the rhetorical retribution from RMS 😛

Let me spell it out for them here:

  1. CC is not about making money. People who publish under CC do not want to get rich selling their work. They are happy to give it away, as long as they can retain the bragging rights and whatnot.
  2. CC is not about control – it’s about sharing.
  3. CC is not about artist’s freedom to deny someone rights to his work. It is about enabling people to use this work without restrictions.

Is this that difficult to understand? Why do these people assume that everyone in the universe has to be clingy about their work, and has secret dreams of becoming the next superstar. This is dumb!

In his latest article Orlowski writes:

A Linux advocacy group emails me to ask permission for a reprint of an article, and I’m delighted to grant it. The Daily Express asks for permission, and I tell them where to shove it. Now that’s a freedom I don’t have by adding an unnecessary license to my work.

Ok, here is a clue: if you want to be clingy and selective about who you allow to publish your work, do not use CC. It is as simple as that. It is obvious that you do not want to share your work with everyone! You want to grant this doubtful privilege to the chosen few. And that’s fine. No one is showing CC down your throat!

But I must tell you that you are mistaking freedom with control. What you want is total control over your work. It might seem like freedom to choose for you, but it is a restriction for everyone else.

When I publish under CC I do not care who users my work. I want everyone be able to benefit from it. Even my mortal enemy! As long as he attributes my work to me, and abides by the license – it’s fine by me. I’m releasing work under CC to benefit everyone. On the other hand, Mr Orlowski would rather retain normal copyright to benefit himself.

But who on earth demands that culture be “Free”?

From two receive missions we conducted – purely for research purposes, of course – into Amoeba Records today and downtown midnight San Francisco last night revealed thousands of people willingly handing over their earnings to enjoy culture. Their only demand being that it be “Good Culture”.

Apparently you grew up as a wealthy, spoiled brad Mr. Orlowski. Sure, there is nothing wrong with paying for “Culture” but not everyone can afford it. You do realize that there exist poor countries out there who also need this culture? Why should we prohibit access to “culture” to those people who cannot pay for it? The whole concept of “culture” is that we share this body of ideas, and notions across the whole spectrum of society.

Think about this – you might have die hard fans in some 3rd world countries. They however cannot afford to buy your work because it costs more than their monthly wage. No matter how they adore you, they can only afford to get illegal copies of your work.

If you had published under CC they can get it for free. Furthermore, they can translate your work into their native tongue and then spread it further. Maybe they can even sell it for a price that is reasonable for their economic situation, thus improving their lives a little bit. All thanks to your work. Naturally you will never see benefits from that.

Personally I would be honored if someone used my work this way. Even if I wanted to get rich, the people in 3rd world countries are not my potential clients. I would never see a cent out of them anyway. But if my work could help them find work, and improve their lives – then I would gladly give it to them for free. And I guess here is where me and Orlowski and Dworak differ.

They are both spoiled rich money grabbing whores. They simply cannot comprehend “free culture” because their parents never taught them about the value of sharing. But hey, who am I to judge them.

Constantine – not a bad movie!

August 29, 2005

I just saw Constantine and I must admit that I really enjoyed it. I never read hellblazer so I was spared the “what the fuck did they do to my favorite comic book?” feeling. So I could judge this movie for what it was, and not for what it should be. The truth is that the movies based on comic books never live up to the originals. Let’s count them down, shall we:

Both Spiderman flicks sucked immensely. Spider man was smart, witty and talkative. Tobey Maguire comes of as borderline retarded, brooding, mute. Wtf?

Daredevil also sucked. Ben Affleck totally destroyed a story that was very dear to my heart. DD was one of my favorite childhood superheros, and holywood just threw away everything that was cool about him and produced yet another super hero pulp.

Xmen movies were digestible for the most part. But what did they do to my beautiful, strong, independent, complicated and conflicted rogue? They turned her into a ditzy teenager. Geez!

From all the superhero movies made recently, I enjoyed only Hellboy and now Constantine. Why? Because I did not read the original books. Hence, I started with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by both pictures. On the other hand I’m pretty sure that fans of Hellboy and Hellblazer hate these two films with passion.

I watched Constantine with no expectations whatsoever. After all, how good can a movie with Keanu Reves killing daemons be? Apparently not all that bad. Don’t get me wrong though – Keanu still can’t act for shit.

I find it amazing that someone who has been in this business as long as him, never picked up even a shred of acting skill. To give him credit – he can sorta emote. He can look semi-brooding, or semi-pissed off. He has the asshole look down pat, because it seems to be his usual mode of operation. This movie pretty much required him to alternate between these three – so he was doing ok for the most part.

And besides – I did watch all 3 matrix movies. After that much exposure to Keanu’s lack of acting ability I barely seem to notice anymore. The rest of the cast seems to be able to route around Keanu, and pick up the slack when needed. So on average, the acting is pretty decent.

The movie starts really strong, but then kindoff looses it’s momentum down the road. Still, it is interesting, and gripping up till the last scenes. Ending is predictable, but not totally obvious. Ok, I’m lying. In retrospection, it is totally obvious, but I must say I have seen worse.

The concept for the main character is very intriguing – Constantine will go to hell, because he attempted suicide in the past. He also has terminal lung cancer which will kill him in few months – which does not stop him from smoking in every single scene. Fighting demons is not a noble calling for him – he simply is trying to buy his way back into heaven. But of course this stuff was taken from the comic book.

Unfortunately, the ending is very disappointing as all this conflict, and tragedy is removed from his life. The gum chewing scene sucked… It would be much better if they had him lite a smoke in the final act. But oh well… Holywood needs to have it’s happy endings.

I would recommend it, but only if you never read the Hellblazer series.

~ I just noticed that the pic I posted here is in French. Sorry… Blame Google images 😛

Your perfect Linux Distro?

August 29, 2005

I took this test (very nicely done btw – the page is awesome). Here are the results:

We found 2 perfect match(es):

It seems like I nailed it 🙂 I’m quite happy with my Kubuntu so far. My only complains are wireless issues (no surprises here) and weird lags when I use firefox (haven’t figured out why it does this).

Anyway, go ahead and test yourself. This test seems to be designed to be newb friendly so even if you have never installed Linux before, and know very little about it, you can still get decent results 🙂

Installing Spellbound Dictionaries on Linux

August 29, 2005

Spellbound is a great extension for Firefox which allows you to spell-check your text forms. It’s a great toy for people who frequently blog and post on message boards.

I installed it a while ago on the old knop hd, and forgot how painful it was. Main problem here is installing dictionaries. You can get them from here and they do seem to install just fine – but they do not work. I spent 15 minutes installing, and removing them and Spellbound simply refused to acknowledge their existence.

Turns out that these files need to be installed in “[installation folder]/components/myspell” – at least that’s what they suggest on the spellbound site. What the hell does that mean?

By trial and error I finally figured out that on linux this means:

/usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/components/myspell/

And, strangely enough I did not have that directory at all. So I did this as root:


cd /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/components
mkdir myspell
chmod a+w myspell

You need to have write permission in the myspell folder to install the dictionaries. Once you install them you can remove the permission for security reasons. After you do this, spellbound works like a charm 🙂

Getting Linksys WPC54G v1.2 working under Kubuntu with ndiswrapper

August 29, 2005

I used my Linksys WPC54G v1.2 card with Linux before. I used to run a debianized Knoppix installation on the same laptop and the card worked great. This time however it didn’t want to cooperate. My kubuntu did not accept the little green card 😦

I actually followed the Ubuntu Nidswrapper Howto very carefully. I grabbed the source from sourceforge, compiled it into a deb and then installed it. Then I installed the windows .inf file.

Nidswrapper did not complain. Dmesg did not show me any error messages. In fact, the whole installation procedure went without a hitch.

The link light on the card even started blinking at some point but I had no internet connection. I suspect that I might have fucked up the WEP settings somehow. I will try this trick again, once I’m on a non-encrypted network.

Btw, putting ndiswrapper in /etc/modules was a really dumb idea. The system basically got stuck trying to initialize it. After 5 minutes of failed attempts to initialize wlan0 gave up, rebooted into recovery mode and commented out ndiswrapper from /etc/modules. After that the system booted just fine.

I have no clue why it didn’t work for me. I think did everything correctly. There was no errors, no crashes no big issues. It simply did not connect. I hate this types of problems because they are really hard to diagnose. When you have an error message you can at least research it. When something simply does not work, even though it should – who the hell knows that happened.

I will try this again with a non WEP networks. Meanwhile I have a brand new, shiny, fully supported proxim orinoco card in the mail. They are tad on the expensive side, but hey – if it works, it will be worth every penny 🙂

Kubuntu kcontrol application is b0rked

August 29, 2005

I found it the hard way that kcontrol in Kubuntu does not work properly. This is due to the fucked up way Ubuntu deals with root. I wish they just be normal about this… But by default root account is disabled in this distro. Of course you can easily enable root by changing it’s password using:

sudo passwd root

Which works for the most part. You can su and become root as normal after doing this. Unfortunately the messed up system restrictions stay in place and affect the system at a deeper level. KDE was never designed to run in a rootles configuration. The control panel screen for example requires you to provide root password to edit stuff like network config, wireless and etc..

But, in Ubuntu root is account is crippled in a way which prevents KDE from acknowledging it within the kcontrol dialogs. When you try to go into “Administrative Mode” from kcontrol you will be prompted for “Administrator Password”. The dialog will not accept neither root or your user password. You can try all you want – it is broken.

There is a workaround though – if you run kcontrol as a root you will be fine. Try the following:

kdesu kcontrol

Kdesu will accept the root password, and will allow you to edit root only sections in the control panel. Which suggests that the only GUI based, temporary user privilege elevation scripts in KDE are b0rked.

I hope they will fix this issue in the following releases because it is annoying…

Kubuntu + Java

August 28, 2005

I finally figured out how to get Java installed with Kubuntu. Some nice people at ubuntu bakcports packaged both j2re 1.5 and j2sdk 1.5. Kub is based on Horaey so you simply need to add horaey related entries to your /etc/apt/sources.list:


deb http://ubuntu-backports.mirrormax.net/ hoary-backports main universe multiverse restricted
deb http://ubuntu-backports.mirrormax.net/ hoary-extras main universe multiverse restricted

Then just install them using apt:


apt-get install sun-j2re.15
apt-get install sun-j2sdk1.5

Please note that the whole operation takes a while. The packages are 38MB and 65MB each 😛

So there. Java on kubuntu without problems.