log (2000/10/06 to 2000/10/12)

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Thursday, October 12, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Some search strings that apparently led people here recently (some with vaguely appropriate links stuck on):

free subdomain URLs
abspielen mehrerer urls
oretty urls
www.word wresling consul.com
surrealist chess
inexpensive urls
update image urls dynamically
"random art link"
Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope, and the True Way
cat URLs
most common English words
kafka sin hope true way
creating obfuscated URLs
urls of romonace
hiddden urls
test URLs URL parser training set
cats cradle granfalloon
"david chess"
web log reader
log log graph paper
virus "honor system"
chess sex
Chess Simple Source
chess log
chess blog
David Chess
Old Log pictures
"Codex Seraphinianus"
intranet chess

I think my favorite is "word wresling consul".

More Tons o' Links from my Great Mail Safari and elsewhere:

From Comrade Dane, Random Tabloids.

Neighbors were irate when Mary Baker stuffed herself into her shoebox one recent evening. Over 500 witnessed the astounding sight.

STUMP - Secure Team-based Usenet Moderation Program

In two different incidents recently, a PDF document was posted to the Net with some of the information "redacted" (i.e. blacked out), but redacted in a way that just sort of covered it up, rather than removing it. Needless to say, this kept the information secret for all of a few minutes. Cryptome.org covers both incidents: the Carnivore Review Panel, and (much more controversially) the names of participants in the overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran. Ooops!

Bill to regulate "spyware":

Under S. 3180, the "Spyware Control and Privacy Protection Act," manufacturers that build spyware into their products must give consumers clear and conspicuous notice - at the time of installation - that the software contains spyware. Such a notice would describe what information would be collected and to whom it would be sent. The spyware would then be forced to lie dormant unless the consumer chooses to enable it.

Enabling Inferencing: more from the W3C about how to make the Web more understandable to computers. I'm not convinced, but if they can make it work...

Will the streamlined search engine's decision to mix in the 20,000 editors of the Open Directory Project mess with its mojo? Good Salon piece (from back in March) about the relationship between Google and the Open Directory Project DMOZ. (Note that something else entirely is currently sitting at odp.org.)

Can Feds Keep Up With E-Patents? March 2000 New York Law Journal interview with Q. Todd Dickinson, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and commissioner of patents and trademarks, about current Stuff.

Yahoo has a whole directory page about sites about Echelon.

An Analysis Of Security Incidents On The Internet 1989 - 1995, John D. Howard's 1997 PhD thesis. Very interesting, if a little dated now.

With the exception of denial-of-service attacks, security incidents were generally found to be decreasing relative to the size of the Internet. The probability of any severe incident not being reported to the CERT®/CC was estimated to be between 0% and 4%. The probability that an incident would be reported if it was above average in terms of duration and number of sites, was around 1 out of 2.6. Estimates based on this research indicated that a typical Internet domain was involved in no more than around one incident per year, and a typical Internet host in around one incident every 45 years.

IE 5.5/Outlook security vulnerability - com.ms.activeX.ActiveXComponent allows executing arbitrary programs. (Yet Another IE Security Hole.)

A Brute Force Search of DES Keyspace (the first DES crack; a network of cooperating computers in 1998)

"Chain of Custody" problems are especially bad with electronic evidence:

Six months after "Maxim" broke into the computers of Internet retailer CD Universe and stole 300,000 credit cards, U.S. authorities have been unable to find the thief. And even if they do, they are unlikely to be able to successfully prosecute the case because electronic evidence collected from the company’s computers was not adequately protected

Important 1996 UK decision on the legal status of software:

Last year, the Court of Appeal [1996 All ER 481] upheld an earlier decision St Albans City and District Council v International Computers Ltd. [Queen's Bench Division 1995] in which substantial damages were awarded in respect of a supply of software which proved unsuitable for the customer's intended use. This article provides a detailed examination of the implications of this decision; in particular, the interpretation of exclusion clauses and the vexed question of the legal status of software

French banks panic over electronic cards:

Last month [Feb 2000] a 36-year-old unemployed computer programmer named Serge Humpich received a 10-month suspended prison sentence for counterfeiting. His crime: inventing a "yes-card" that French payment terminals accept no matter what four-digit code the user enters...

French consumer groups are demanding that GIE CB replace all old cards and payment terminals immediately - at a cost of more than £1.2 billion - and that the group be placed under government supervision. Comparing bank card security to France's AIDS-tainted blood scandal, an editorial in Libération noted that "banking authorities were duly warned that the security of micro-chip cards was no longer what it had been, but silence ruled - so as not to frighten the user, upset businesses or discredit a national invention".

How Anti-Shoplifting Devices Work.

These guys can make your files self-destruct if tampered with, "just like in Mission Impossible"! As Bruce Schneier says in Crypto-gram, from which this and probably many of the above links came, "someone remind these nice people that Mission Impossible is fiction"...

Wednesday, October 11, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

So we were sitting around at lunch talking about the Seven Deadly Sins (for some reason) and the Seven Dwarfs. We eventually thought of all of them, and we assigned a Sin to each Dwarf. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the assignment, though. What do you think? Which Sin for which Dwarf? Wrath for Grumpy seems inevitable. I kinda like Lust for Happy...

Steve found a Web page for the ad-campaigns that Harper's Magazine commissioned for the Sins. Quite memorable! I have it as a poster somewhere.


The wall of water would weaken as it crossed the ocean, but would still be 40-50 metres (130-160 feet) high by the time it hit land. The surge would create havoc in North America as much as 20 kilometres (12 miles) inland.

Remember the 16-year-old Irish girl who was in all the papers the other year for a new crypto algorithm she'd invented? Whatever happened to her? Here's a nice writeup; she's doing Just Fine, despite the algorithm's having been broken.

It sounded quite plausible that Establishment Medicine would have been neglecting Women's Health Issues for years. But a recent Salon piece (link from center-right) suggests that it isn't true. Among other things:

The Women's Caucus, by the way, was especially incensed by a government report showing that less than 14 percent of the money spent by the National Institutes of Health in 1987 went to research on female-specific illnesses. What the congresswomen forgot to mention was that fewer than 7 percent of the NIH budget was allocated to male-specific problems, while the bulk of the money was spent on studying the far more numerous diseases that afflict both sexes.

I was surprised not to find any Letters on the subject at Salon (maybe I just looked in the wrong place?). If anyone's seen a rebuttal to this piece, I'd be interested.

All them Netscape preferences.

Microsoft 1-Click destruction patent.

Phil Agre is still going strong: on top of all them things the other day, he's now posted another Notes and Recommendations. The usual high-quality think stuff, as well as cheap pens, and his theory of the Internet Stock Bubble.

In the Internet's case, one player, the philosopher-kings at ARPA, held nearly all the cards; they were the smartest, richest, best-organized, and most prescient of anyone, and they chose to rig the game to ensure that almost all of the wealth went to the ordinary users, that is, the taxpayers. This poses a problem for the players who want bigger slices of the pie than they get just from having a computer on their desk.

What else? (Yep, I'm still going through my mail backlog and old to-follow links.) Lots of computer security stuff, but I'm kinda bored with that today. I'd rather study Alien Food Symbols.

I was gonna post a few reader notes here, but I had a hard time stopping! Readers write (some in response to the "Tell me something" prompt, some elsewhere):


about gaul bladder disease



What an ominous looking flag--voodoo, the green snake

Like the picture...and it's nice to see that the self-portrait on the davidchess.com T-shirt I got last week is suprisingly accurate

If I had a nickel for everyone who typed in "something"...

I'ma use my cuecat for a nitelight. Also, for oneadem CD UPC scannahs, 'slong as I don't hafta submittal infos to them about my so-called "buying habits".

I have no recollection of those events.

"My hovercraft is full of eels" would be a good name for a weblog.


Of course I've noticed how similar "writing" and "writhing" are. Lewis Carroll made use of this fact in "Alice in Wonderland" when the Mock Turtle was explaining his schooling. He'd studied "reeling and writhing", among other things. --TFBW

sexy ladies

I want to live in Teletubbieland. Imagine a new series of Survivor held there...

I'll tell you that I think Joel is wrong about anti-aliased fonts. If his thesis had been that nobody has done a good implementation of anti-aliased fonts, then I'd probably have to agree with him. Certainly I don't know of any *good* implementations -- they are all fairly naive. But that's not to say that font anti-aliasing *can't* be done well and in a manner that is easier on the eye than bi-level rendering. Anti-aliasing is a fundamentally good idea and we should not throw it out in its entirety based on a few horrible examples of its application.

You should of course also tell Joel that. I'm willing to believe that a good implementation of anti-aliased fonts might be a Good Thing, but it's also true that every implementation I've seen has been blurry and kinda hard to read (see my own experiments with smoothed fonts here in the log back in March). Anyone have a good implementation to point to?

There's still time to tell us why they keep showing that same silly episode of Gleebs over and over. Channel Thirteen hasn't answered my letter yet...

Otherwise things are fine. I feel like there're all sortsa things that I wanted to tell you about, but I can't think of them right now. Maybe I'll think of them later. Or maybe I'll think of other stuff just as good. You Never Know.

Tuesday, October 10, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Had a very nice relaxing weekend, visiting S and G and their kids in subrural Maryland, admiring the Great Falls of the Potomac ("don't hang over the railing!"), clambering around on the rocks at Cunningham Falls ("Swimming prohibited; climbing not advised"). The kids played lots of Nintendo (even we grownups took over the device for awhile one evening; I spent a restless night dreaming about Mario Tennis).

The map of the Cunningham Falls / Catoctin Mountain park had a small and rather enigmatic note to the effect that Camp David (the Presidential retreat) is in the park, but not open to the public or visible from the road. It's also not marked on the map; we pointed to the one or two big blank spots and wondered which one it was.

I continued crunching on the old email, and got through everything more recent than last March or so. (Not that there aren't mails more recent than that that still need answering, but at least I got rid of all the trivial stuff later than that.) Lots and lots of interesting and potentially interesting links were found, but no time to log them today! Only time for...

Funny signs: Pennsylvania and Maryland both seem to really like using portable roadside light-signs beside the highway. We saw signs advising us about slow traffic, about apple festivals, about a Soccer Center. One confused me greatly by saying "Line 1 / Line 2 / Line 3"; just as I was passing it it explained itself by switching to "Sign under test / Sign under test / Sign under test".

But the most memorable sign, shining rather dimly in the median just after some toll booth, completely stumped me for a long second. It said "BATTERYS NEED CHARGING".

Once I figured out that it didn't mean my batteries (how would it know?), I felt sort of sorry for it. I hope someone phoned up its master eventually.

Those readers who get tired of me constantly hyping Phil Agre can skip ahead a bit. For the rest of y'all, there's been lots of sudden and noteworthy activity on Red Rock Eaters in recent days. Especially worthwhile, The Market Logic of Information, Imagining the Wired University, Supporting the Intellectual Life of a Democratic Society, notes on campaign lunacy in the U.S. Presidential race, and the literature on institutions:

The need for a theory of institutions

So far I have been using "institution" in an uncritical way. Now it is time to define the word "institution", drawing on a variety of powerful literatures. "Institution" is a complicated word, and any definition should be treated only as a placeholder for subsequent analysis. That analysis should provide some valuable services: ...

On the way home we got stuck in absolutely motionless traffic (truckers getting out of their cabs to wander around, spiderwebs beginning to form on the wheels) on Interstate 78. M bravely backed up to the previous exit (only a few hundred feet back, or we wouldn't have dared), and we went and had dinner at Esther's Restaurant, a lovely little place that I highly recommend to anyone stranded in that part of rural Pennsylvania.

And finally, there's always time to log a page that describes me as a "Demigod virus expert". Obviously, Rob should be taken with an even larger than usual grain of salt today!   *8)

Friday, October 6, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Going through all this old mail (not that I'm anywhere near finished yet) I have found lots of random interesting links, and I will probably just throw lots of them at you, rather than indulging in any actual thought.

Before we get started, though, you have ever noticed how similar the words "writing" and "writhing" are? Funny.

Some recent week was Banned Books Week, and I didn't even notice. Tsk! Here's the American Library Association Page on the general subject, a January Magazine piece on it, and the ALA's list of the top 100 banned or "challenged" books of the decade.

Needless to say for anyone who's been reading me for any period of time, I think banning books from libraries is a dumb idea. Information is good for you.

Space Fungus!

It appears that Janet has posted most of the pictures I took at VB2000. A peek into the glamorous and exciting world of the anti-virus researcher!

A freaking amazing photograph, and a piece about the person who took it. (From I forget where.)

And speaking of censorship,

"Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of sXXXch, or the right of the people peaceably to XXXemble, and to peXXXion the government for a redress of grievances."

Linked mostly just because I like the name: The Street Performer Protocol and Digital Copyrights:

We introduce the Street Performer Protocol, an electronic-commerce mechanism to facilitate the private financing of public works. Using this protocol, people would place donations in escrow, to be released to an author in the event that the promised work be put in the public domain. This protocol has the potential to fund alternative or "marginal" works.

So Iain M. Banks is pretty cool. For one thing, he's really good at proper nouns; names of ships so far encountered in Excession include Fate Amenable to Change, Ethics Gradient, Serious Callers Only, Attitude Adjuster, Not Invented Here, Yawning Angel, and The Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival. He could probably make a fortune designing names for dotcom startups.

He's also cool because of this long and interesting note on his future history, and because he's not online himself:

Is Iain online?

In a word no. Iain had said in an interview once that he had modem and software ready to run. Since then every interview has said he is purposefully staying away from the internet because he is concerned about becoming addicted to it. He doesn't have an email address, so please don't ask me for it. The only way to get in contact with Iain is through his publisher...

(Of course it'd also be cool if he was online!)

What you're not allowed to take where (PDF).

Well, any reason will do: Ban on Dutch brothels lifted for tax purposes. Prostitution seems like a particularly dumb thing to outlaw, IMHO. But then, I'm a flaming loony.

Speaking of Sex, Blind customers want to touch club lapdancers. I'm not sure if I'm logging this because it raises interesting questions about society, senses, and sexuality, or if it's just because it involves people touching lapdancers. The human mind is, indeed, like an enormous fish! (Link from Anton Sherwood.)

Speaking of nu, it's amusing to see an entire top level domain so devoted to selling itself.

With some reluctance, I run this story about abusive Microsoft software (although the general topic is getting rather old, I can't help but feel that if MS would take some real positive action to Get Their Acts Together in this particular sense, we'd all be better off): MSN Turns Users into Spammers.

And I suppose I will close with this rather memorable Site Map. Durn, wish I'd thought of that!   *8)


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