Archive for the ‘technology’ Category.

Support the EFF!

For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a small group of lawyers and techies who are sort of like the ACLU, but only for technology-type stuff. Because the EFF is so small, they don’t have the resources to take on every case that comes along the way the ACLU does. Consquently, they wait for the perfect case, and then kick ass. The EFF was behind the class action lawsuit over Sony BMG’s rootkits (I don’t think I ever posted the resolution of that, but the EFF won and if you bought one of these CDs, you can get some money and a way to remove them from your machine and stuff). The EFF was behind the landmark case about the broadcast flag that finally gave you the right to record what you want on your TiVo or VCR (again). They were the ones who got the electronic voting company Diebold kicked out of North Carolina for their unethical business practices and intentional security problems. The EFF are all-around awesome people!

Anyways, they’re now battling AT&T over the warrantless wiretapping thing (the ACLU is also suing AT&T, but the two cases are, at least for now, separate). At DEFCON, I got to see a panel of 5 EFF people discuss this case with the audience. AT&T has been completely assy about every point, arguing ludicrous things, such as the claim that the address of their main datacenter is a trade secret (despite the fact that it’s registered with the city of San Francisco and is in the phone book). Time after time, the judge has come down on the EFF’s side. The EFF has even managed to work around the State Secrets issues that right-wing pundits expected would bring the entire trial to a standstill (the EFF’s arguments here were amazingly clever. Post a comment if you’re interested in hearing more). Earlier this week, the judge in the ACLU’s suit ruled that AT&T must stop their practices, though they plan to appeal this to the 9th circuit court of appeals (though knowing the 9th circuit, the decision should stand). The EFF’s judge has already made a similar ruling, and by now should have decided whether AT&T can continue the wiretapping while they appeal (though I don’t know the outcome of that edit: they can continue re-edit: that was for the ACLU case. I still don’t know what happened to the motion to stay in the EFF case). As usual, Fox “News” is using intimidation and straw-man arguments to say that the ruling is the work of a foolish, activist, outsider judge. The Washington Post is taking a more reasonable, moderate stance.

In the meantime, there’s a scary bill looming on the horizon. This bill, if passed into law, would specifically legalize warrantless wiretapping, thereby stripping away all congressional oversight. Personally, I feel this is ridiculous, because FISA (the secret court that is supposed to oversee wiretaps) has never once in its entire 30-year history turned down a wiretap application. Moreover, the Arlen-Cheney bill would move the ACLU’s and EFF’s legal battles from the normal courts over to FISA, where no one would ever be able to find out what occurred or why. If you want to keep your Fourth Amendment rights and not have a chilling effect set over all of America, please, please call or write to your Congresspeople (note that that link is secure and any data you put in that form will be encrypted; yet another good thing the EFF does).

A couple minor points about the EFF: EFF’s stance on net neutrality →

Scrabble n’ such

Whee! Remember over the summer when I was so excited that I got my first 7-letter word? Well, in the past couple weeks, I have played two more games, and gotten two more words! Sara and I were playing, and Kenny and Rami were watching (I have no idea what they were doing in my room, but it was cool to hang out with them anyway). The 2nd turn of the game (that’s right – the second turn!), I built off of Sara’s “HONEY” to get a triple-word score:


That netted me a good 80 points. Weirdly enough, we tied at the end — 275 each. This was a bit humbling, because this was the first time I’d gotten a 7-letter word on her, and it was also the first time I didn’t beat her. hm… I guess part of it was that I didn’t get any of the high-scoring letters (she got the Q, Z, X, and J), but part of it was that I definitely didn’t box her in enough. She managed to put the X on a triple word, and put QUIZ on a double word. All in all, though, ’twas a good game.

Then, tonight, Robert, Kenny, Rachel and I played Scrabble. I had had a slight lead all evening, and then, just as we ran out of letters to draw, I pulled the perfect ending move. Earlier that game, I had placed BADE just above the bottom center triple word score, so that no one could possibly get it (JADED was right above it). However, I then managed to play BULLPEN like this:


Landing the B on a triple word score and ending the game in one fell swoop! 92 points that turn. We played that everyone else got one extra turn to try to get rid of letters, so Robert got rid of his Z, and Kenny even managed to run out of letters as well (though he only had 3 or 4 letters in his hand). My final score – 215. Kenny came in 2nd with 124, so I’m feeling pretty good about the game.

Alex stopped in to visit, which was nice. She seems to be doing well, and is certainly visiting much more this year than last. The two of us, Mac, Elisa, Kenny, and Amanda watched The Professional, which we all missed at FNMG this evening. It was… interesting. Certainly a very violent movie, but at the same time, it was rather emotional. I’m not sure I’d recommend it. And there were some really creepy parts, as when Natalie Portman (who was about 12 when this movie was made) tells Jean Reno (who is in his 30’s) that she loves him. Not a daughter-father love, but a have-sex-and-get-married love. ew… At the same time, I’d be interested in finding out what other directors have watched this, because some of the same sort of imagery shows up in things like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (hit-man raises a child, takes the child to kill people, yet makes sure the child doesn’t swear, smoke, or be rude), the new Ocean’s Eleven (the SWAT scenes), and in Road To Perdition (I won’t say anything about this, because I don’t want to give away the end to either movie). One thing I didn’t know before this evening that the director (who also played the bad guy) also directed the Fifth Element (where he again played the bad guy) and Nikita (don’t recall if he played the bad guy or not). So… yeah. Interesting movie, all in all.

Yesterday, I finally got DMA turned back on for my hard drive (I’m using ReiserFS for my main partition). Huzzah! I can now watch more episodes of Bullshit (Amanda, thanks for giving me new episodes), and my music doesn’t sound as crappy any more! At this point, my computer is pretty much back to where I left off, except for the 2nd monitor, which I can’t get to work for the life of me. It does just fine at 640×480 resolution, but that’s less than 1/4 of the resolution I should be getting (I know it works at 1024×760 at 60Hz). Damn it! Well, I’ll get it eventually.

In the meantime, it’s now a touch past 3:00 in the morning, so I’m going to bed.