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Posts from the ‘A series of tubes’ Category

Even the emperor of segue’s would be stumped with this one…

We must work together to give the following YouTube video the mandatory 6,000 views to get a group of fat hockey fans to strip on the “Ellen” show. We can think of no nobler cause for Puck Daddy to endorse.

(via, where else, Puck Daddy)

The Courts and Technology: Head Scratching Edition

illustation (c) Jacob Palme

It’s time for another quickie round-up of three court cases that are on my mind this week. What do they have in common? They’re all tech-related, and they’ve all got me scratching my head.

  • Ontario Judge rules that Canadians should have no expectation of privacy from law enforcement on-line. This ruling (among other things) asserts that law enforcement officers do not have to get a warrant to require an ISP to surrender logs of your on-line activities. The Ars article does a fine job of detailing the case, and also the slippery slope this entails – but as MGK points out this is almost certainly going to the Supreme Court. Christopher (who is as adept at blogging about law as he is with blogging about Rex the Wonder Dog) – lays out both pro and con arguments quite succinctly.

    Why is Brad scratching his head? There shouldn’t be an expectation of privacy on-line, I know IP addresses are inherently public… but a lot of things that we do don’t have the expectation of absolute secrecy, and I’m not comfortable with surrendering them to law enforcement without judicial oversight either.

  • The charges that have been finally brought in the Terry Childs case are as just as strange as the case itself. If you missed this bizarre story from the summer here is a very good recap. The nutshell version is that Mr. Childs was a network admin who refused to give up passwords to the network he maintained for the city of San Fransisco. So they put him in jail. There are undeniably quirks to everything involved with this case, so everyone will have their own graph point for Mr. Childs ranging somewhere on the spectrum between “eccentric” and “dangerous” – but it should still be setting a very troubling precedent for folks in the IT sector.

    Why is Brad scratching his head? As it now stands, the city has essentially put Terry behind bars for over six months, on five times the average bail for murder, and is now charging him (a certified CISCO network admin) with “having access to three modems”. Does that ring any alarm bells for anyone else?

  • As much as I try to stay away, the gong-show like atmosphere of the Pirate Bay trial keeps pulling me back in. Somewhere, out there in the multiverse, there is a nuanced – challenging – lawsuit going on. A lawsuit where informed parties are intellectually jousting on the legal ramifications of running BitTorrent “trackers” which contain no copyright infringing materials on their own, but are used extensively (and in some cases, exclusively) to facilitate copyright infringing action (consider them as to the digital age what “head shops” were to the 60s). Sadly we don’t get that trial. Instead we get a Swedish prosecution that kind of (but not quite) can use “IRL” correctly in a “RL” court proceeding, and then follow up that feat with todays show-stopper – presenting “expert witnesses” who have, at best, a “shaky” understanding of how the technology works – and use a handful of screenshots as “evidence”.

    Why is Brad scratching his head? Did Elliot Ness ever try to bring down Al Capone on the irrefutable witness of Tintin in America? Maybe this is actually a brilliant strategy in hiding.

    Hiding in disguise.

    Okay, it’s a big Swedish train-wreck… and I. cant. stop. watching.

I even spared you the joke about the “bitter aftertaste of Fred Motz nuts”


I don’t mind sharing geek culture with the masses, but I find it difficult to explain (even to friends) how weird it is to see “Watchmen” stuff everywhere. It’s like, my adolescent fever-dreams have escaped to manifest themselves as novelty keychains, or collectible limited-edition coffees.

Thankfully Bully, the little stuffed bull, eases my pain with his selction of delicious “Watchmen”-themed ice-cream.

Personally I think the “comment of the thread” award was won almost immediately by RAB who wrote:

The bowl is empty. The scoop is falling from my hand. I am eating the ice cream. I am bringing the groceries home. I am paying the cashier. I am seeing the ice cream in the freezer case for the first time. The scoop is falling from my hand. The morality of my diet escapes me.

Rounds of applause all around – and since “Watchmen Ice Cream” was too delicious a challenge to ignore, I leave you with my humble suggestion:

Classic New-York banana, with a hint of salt-water tears

I am *so* Jim Vergadula (NSFW Language)

Network Shaping is Bad. Period. Full Stop.

News out of the US that representative Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is trying to sneak anti-net neutrality language into the stimulus bill.

In a nutshell, the senators amendment would tie additional broadband funding in the US with amended legislation that would allow ISP’s to implement “network management techniques” ostensibly to deter child pornography, and movie piracy, and the like.

I recently noted the different approach to piracy in Canada and the US – but here’s yet another concrete example as this amendment appears to be driven by the MPAA in their ongoing anti-piracy campaign.

Let me make this as clear, and concise as I can: The moment content producers allow ISP’s to make a “value” judgement — of any kind — as to data they carry on their network, producers have lost. You have set a precedent that allows the ISP to become the content gate-keeper who will forevermore determine what legitimate services customers will have access to. Read more

The Piracy Battle – Two VERY different approaches


I found it interesting that on the same day that American producers were again renewing the call to battle piracy (although, unsurprisingly not mentioning the latest US legal judgement that a pirated download does not constitute a “lost sale” for calculation of damages… something I’ve long argued the MPAA and RIAA are using to cloak far more systemic problems with their respective business models) I was having a conversation with a couple of Canadian producers on Network Neutrality touching on similar issues (most of the Canadian ISP’s now looking to “shape” all that congesting BitTorrent traffic).

I’ll have much more to say on this as the Net Neutrality hearings at the CRTC heat up – but I wanted to share one of the key points that came out of my discussion that I’m not sure I had heard expressed with such crystal clarity before (and my apologies I can’t recall who actually made the point):

Without absolute network neutrality, content producers will never be able to provide legal content alternatives as effective as illegal ones.

Like the Napster/iTunes evolution, until a legitimate alternative exists which offers most of the benefits of the illegitimate one, you will never win the fight. And without true network neutrality, the capability to implement such a system would be limited entirely to those who own the infrastructure, essentially creating a new caste of “super broadcasters” to gatekeep access to audience.

One of the above discussions struck me as horrifically quaint, while one seemed refreshingly forward-thinking. Can you guess which one’s which?

(illustration via Education Week)

How I finally managed to synchronize the address book and iCal between three macs, GMail, Google Calendar, an iphone, and a blackberry OR Why I love SpanningSync


It’s the little things that drive you crazy. For a little over a year I’ve been trying to find an easy way to syncronize OSX Address Books and iCalendars between three separate computers at work. Roll that around on your tounge for a few minutes over a year.

It’s a deceptively tricky problem – it’s not enough computers to warrant the expense (and complexity) of a full on server solution, but it’s enough that just occasionally exporting/importing backups isn’t going to cut it. Furthermore, ideally I want to be able to make changes on *any* of the three computers and have it reflected in the other two.

Let’s add another wrinkle – one of the laptops syncs to a Blackberry, the other to an iPhone. Read more

Live From Gobblers Knob

It's Groundhog Day!

I have to admit I’m a little confused on how we’re supposed to treat this, the most insane of meteorological celebrations, now that there is a vast field of pretenders to what was once Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania’s sole domain. Is it like the supreme court of Marmota Monax? With this years predictions in at 6:3 for “six more weeks of winter” does Staten Island Chuck write the dissenting opinion?

It's Groundhog Day! It's Groundhog Day!

“Melverne Mel, Dunkirke Dave, myself, and several other members of our honourable assembly must find that we we see no evidence of a shadow whatsoever. Seriously, we looked all over the place. Our respective handlers waved us all over the place for several moments – collectively almost a minute. We also must strongly question what kind of rigorous diligence can be expected from our honourable colleague, given that he willingly lives in a property called Gobblers Knob?”

It's Groundhog Day! It's Groundhog Day! It's Groundhog Day!

Or is it less a uniform consensus we are looking for than a forecast tailored to a specific general local? Not that it matters in this specific case as Wiarton Willie seems to be with the majority this year. I kind of like this reading, as the forcasts for Toronto have been a little shaky this year, and I like the idea that flinging around small mammals is just an effective method of prognostication as doppler radar. “Hey Rob, do you know if I need to take an umbrella with me?” “Hang on a second and let me see if the cat attacks my mouse pointer with it’s left or right paw!” “What’s the weather going to be like on my trip tomorrow?” “Take the raccoon out of the drier and see how many times it circles around before it gets into our garbage and throws up on our deck… multiply that by eight for your temperature in Fahrenheit.”

In conclusion – this is truly a spectacularly bizarre tradition, even by the somewhat lax standards of North-American-post-Christmas-festivities.