Net Neutrality

and why you should support it, presented in a in a two minute clip.

My position on open standards, neutrality, and fairness have been discussed here quite a bit, and this is no different. The internet has been one of the greatest forces for change and democracy in a long time; at the very least, it has been a catalyst for the explosive growth of knowledge and information sharing (not to mention giving The People a voice that they haven’t had – ever. A necessary voice that is the only thing currently safeguarding our democracy on the popular front). There is a slight argument toward a capitalist solution (i.e. neutral providers will attract more customers), but in a monopolistic situation (at best, most people in America effectively only have a duopoly of ISPs from which to choose), I do not think this applies. See also, Wal-Mart).

Without net neutrality, the inernet as you know it will likely die. Many scenarios have already unfolded, such as Comcast Cable blocking Vonage packets… and then rolling out their own VOIP solution a few months later. As things stand, even with the many to many access model, ISPs are our gateways, and are still subject to control from the anticompetitive, antipeople corporations. If the internet had not been developed the way it had and been nurtured via universities, we would currently have a “net” of walled communities, to which we would have to pay to access. Think this wasn’t what the Suits wanted? Imagine a world where the “internet” are competing AOLs.

That’s the future we are heading toward, and the Suit lobbyists from AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, in coordination with the corrupt GOP Congress are trying to turn back the clock and destroy the internet as we know it. For the businesses, it makes sense to try and control content. For the government, it makes sense to try and control information, and there has not been a governmental body in history that has not tried to coopt and control any and all technologies that increase the amount of information available to the people.

We must not allow the internet to become a series of walled gardens, run by warlords, robber barons, and tinpot dictators. Let your Congresscritter know how you feel.

If nothing else convinces you, imagine how much the temperature in hell dropped when they realized that Instacracker and MoveOn were on the same side of this issue. And if that inbred, mouthbreathing, genocidal racist twit can come around to the correct viewpoint… hell, everyone should.

Apparently, I’m on a tech roll

If I ever get cable, I’m totally going to build my own PVR with Ubuntu linux, a TV tuner card, and a small form factor case. You know, like this guy. (his step by step is nice, with plenty of pictures)

Why pay $16/mo? The daunting part is the setup, but tinkering is in a monkey’s nature, no?

Yo, Windoze users, back up your shizzle

Or it could be alllll gone tomorrow

That’s when the Kama Sutra computer worm will begin destroying critical files on infected computers. And hundreds of thousands of machines may have the worm lurking within their Windows operating system, ready to be unleashed on February 3 and the third of every month thereafter.

Experts say Windows Office documents, Word documents, Excel spread sheets, and PDFs (portable document format) are among the files that will be “overwritten.” That means the data will be changed and corrupted, and the original information will no longer be accessible.

While files that have simply been deleted can sometimes be recovered; overwritten files are usually lost for good.

Then again, that’s what you get for using a proprietary OS.

Wisconsin voting machines now trustworthy

It is now law in Wisconsin that all electronic voting machines must be open source. This is the only way to audit these machines and guarantee that our votes are counted (WI also requires the machines to continue to operate in case of power failure and provide a paper printout).

Among the 15 bills governor Jim Doyle signed into law on Wednesday will require the software of touch-screen voting machines used in elections have its source code opened up to public viewing.

Municipalities that use electronic voting machines are responsible for providing to the public, on request, the code used.

You know what this means, right? Death to Diebold!

GNU VoIP stack released

A most excellent idea.

GNU developers have released a telephony stack, an open source alternative to competing proprietary VoIP solutions. The GNU telephony stack provides a sacalable environment for building and deploying enterprise level VoIP solutions compatible with current standards and hardware. With an emphasis on modularity and extensible functionality, the GNU telephony stack can be integrated with other systems and services like web servers and databases.

I maintain that open source is the greatest force for democracy and enrichment of the commons currently extant. I’m all for anything that strengthens or improves that, and innovative solutions that allow people to both increase their knowledge and avoid proprietary solutions is a Good Thing.

Need another reason to ditch MS or Windows?

Security, baby, security. There is yet another unpatched and highly dangerous security exploit in the wild. The exploit goes past all known windows detection systems and is unstoppable once it gets ahold of your machine. This has been known for at least a few days (probably a few weeks) and there is still no fix.

Microsoft is investigating new public reports of a vulnerability in Windows. Microsoft is also aware of the public release of detailed exploit code that could be used to exploit this vulnerability. Based on our investigation, this exploit code could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the user’s system by hosting a specially crafted Windows Metafile (WMF) image on a malicious Web site. Microsoft is aware that this vulnerability is being actively exploited.

Microsoft has determined that an attacker using this exploit would have no way to force users to visit a malicious Web site. Instead, an attacker would have to persuade them to visit the Web site, typically by getting them to click a link that takes them to the attacker’s Web site. In an e-mail based attack, customers would have to be persuaded to click on a link within a malicious e-mail or open an attachment that exploited the vulnerability. In both the web and email based attacks, the code would execute in the security context of the logged-on user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

What, you want more? How about a security study of internet browsers that showed that IE was unsafe for 98% of the days of 2004 (sometimes with multiple vulnerabilities concurrently) where there was a publicly known remote code execution in Mozilla and no patched release. Opera? 17%. Mozilla? 15% (and of those, 30 days only affected Mac users). C’mon, there’s no reason for IE to have more than 60% market share.

Get Firefox

WordPress 2.0 released

For you WP users out there.

The WordPress community is very proud to present the next generation of WordPress to the world, our 2.0 “Duke” release, named in honor of jazz pianist and composer Duke Ellington. We’ve been working long and hard to bring you this release, and I hope you enjoy using it as much as we’e enjoyed working on it.

I haven’t upgraded yet. I figure I’ll let the dust settle and some bugs get worked out first. Probably. Maybe. It’ll probably kill my new template I worked so much on these past two days. … not tinkerin taint in my nature… mumblemumble… hey, what’s this button do?

$100 laptop presented

I blogged about this fantastic product idea back in September when it was a theory, but today, it’s a reality.

The hand-cranked laptop, shown for the first time at the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), operates at 500MHz, or about half the speed of commercial laptops. It features a low-power display that can be switched from color to black and white to allow viewing in bright sunlight. Many children in developing countries have school outside, Negroponte said.

The machine can be folded in different ways to serve as a computer, electronic book, or media player.

“We designed the device to perform many roles,” said Negroponte, who also heads the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit group. “Learning should be seamless.”

The computer will run “Linux or some other open-source operating system,” Negroponte said.

Applications will also be open-source based, and available in “every single language that people want,” Negroponte said. The MIT professor said he expects the open source community to jump at the opportunity to pitch in with this effort.

The computers will be free to schoolchildren. “Ownership of the computer is absolutely essential,” Negroponte said, pointing out that people generally take better care of things they own. “Have you ever washed a rental car?” he asked.

Choosing the colors–the body is lime green and the crank yellow–was one of the hardest decisions the group had to make, Negroponte said. The colors should convey “a message of playfulness,” he said.

This would be impossible without open source software, of course, in addition to the highly imaginative engineering. Open source is a fundamental force for democracy, modernization, and improvement of the Commons. I’m all for it. I’m also adding this to the “why MS’ operating system and office productivity arms are doomed, reason #320116” pile.

Firefox “must-have” extensions

I have no idea why Wired is calling them “hacks” when they are all known as “extensions” or “plugins,” but they point out a few good ones (ok, by the definition, a “plugin” is a hack, but it’s not the commonly accepted usage, particularly when Firefox calls them “extensions”).

Adblock is far better than Nuke Anything, mainly for the global and persistent rule sets (make sure to uncheck OBJ-TAG in preferences, though, so you can see flash anims).

They’re missing two of my favorites too, flashblock and minimizetotray. Oh, and mousegestures. Browsers are useless without mousegestures these days.

Flashblock + Adblock = glorious browsing experience.

FOSS is winning… one lesser developed country at a time

Macedonia deploys 5,000 Ubuntu desktops in public schools

The Republic of Macedonia is a small country in Southern Europe with a population of around 2 million. Internet penetration is only around 5% and software piracy rate is rampant. Also, the government does not play any major role in the development of the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and a private sector is dominated by Microsoft technologies.

Given the circumstances, one would not expect any free software related stories to make the headlines. Yet the presence of a small volunteer organization by the name Free Software Macedonia is making a big difference in this small country.

At the time of writing this article, all major Free Open Source Software (FOSS) projects have either been translated or were close to being translated in Macedonian language. Tools such as spell checkers are also under development. Although, resources are scarce, dedication and enthusiasm has kept these projects going.

One of the key features here is the extensibility and knowledge base of open source projects. No spellchecker in [insert language here]? No problem! Here’s how you do it, just fill in your words. You have some special characters? Here’s the code where you change whatever. How much does it cost? Just your time.

And just like that, 468 schools and 182 computer labs have powerful, functioning, secure computer for their use for no more than the price of the hardware. Maybe some of them will grow up to be great architects or coders or engineers… because of the skills they learn on the computers. Computers that they would not otherwise have had access to.

Free and Open Source Software: the greatest ongoing peaceful tool for democracy and humanity we have today. Frrreeeeedooooooommmmm!

BellSouth: we’ll help Katrina victims… psyche!

We only meant we’d help if we saw beaucoop profit on the deal. But now you can’t have our damaged and useless building.

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth’s Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.

City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city. Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition. Some states have laws prohibiting them.

I’m a huge advocate of publicly-owned WANs (along with open source software and a mandate that all public institutions use FOSS), as such I’m all for the NOLA plan. I don’t care if widespread adoption of municipal WiFi takes all the telecoms down, or if it’s VOIP that does it, or any technology or methodological change whatsoever. In short: F-U, BellSouth and all you oligopolistic controllers of The Pipe. Your day is coming. Thanks to BellSouth for stepping in and showing what true character is…. or is not, in this case.

Brick no longer

Linux fixed that router right back up. Of course, I can’t seem to get it to work as a bridge yet, but that’s a configuration issue I can eventually figure out. Probably. Maybe. Well, it should work, but wireless stuff is a total fucking bitch that needs to be shot in the head twice.

Anyway, Windows still sucks, Linux still rules, and wireless bridging should be a lot easier than it is.

Also, I want a pony.

Update: nevermind. It works. Entering this right now from a bridged connection. Now I can really make my downstairs my computer room. Sweet! Hooray for linux! … OK, so the bridge only works when I boot the router in failsafe mode, thus getting rid of my whack ass config settings. So what? It works, baby!

Even the wingnut blogs are Orwellian

There’s a new group of worthless righty blogs trying to form a media empire (they did get $3.5M of some chump investor’s money though, which just goes to show you conservatives are rich and stupid).

Anyway, they were called Pajamas Media and they feature some of the worst of the worst, like Instahypocrite and the Self Hating Sock Puppet Bigot-alangalang and Roginator “the best part of me was a stain on my parents’ sheets” Simonotron and such. Their plans are to link to blogs and newswire articles.

Groundbreaking, breathtaking stuff, huh.

Well, Pajama Media is a bit unprofessional sounding so they changed their name today. To “Open Source Media(tm)” or OSMtm for short. I guess they are taking their cue from the duhbya assministration.

Our Site and all its contents, which includes, but is not limited to, text, graphics, photographs, logos, video and audio content, is protected by copyright as a collective work or compilation under the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. All individual components of Our Site, including, without limitation, articles, content and other elements comprising Our Site are also copyrighted works. Additionally all of the weblogs linked to by us are likewise protected. You must abide by all additional copyright notices or restrictions contained on this site and our linked weblogs.

You may not reproduce, distribute, copy, publish, enter into any database, display, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of this site. The only exceptions to this are that you may download material from Our Site for your own personal use, provided such download is limited to making one machine readable copy and/or one print copy that limited to occasional articles of personal interest only. No other use of the content of Our Site is permitted. Please contact our Sales Department if you wish to have rights other than those stated above.

Hahahahahaa…. compare that to some real open source language, like, oh the CC licenses, the GPL, or even dKos disclaimer.

This is the perfect group to blog on Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, Saving Social Security, War on Terrorism, No Child Left Behind, and on and on…

I shall henceforth call them Open Sores Media.

Stolen Elections

Computer expert testifies elctions in Florida were fixed

Computer programmer Clinton Curtis testified at the December 13th, 2004 Congressional hearing in Columbus, Ohio naming Republican Congressman Tom Feeney as the person who hired him to prepare vote-rigging software.

The programmer claims that he designed and built a “vote rigging” software program at the behest of then Florida Congressman, now U.S. Congressman, Republican Tom Feeney of Florida’s 24th Congressional District.

Curtis says that Feeney “was very specific in the design and specifications required for this program.”

“He detailed, in his own words, that; (a) the program needed to be touch-screen capable (b) the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment (c) the programming to accomplish this needed to stay hidden even if the source code was inspected.”

Though there was no problem with the first two requirements, Curtis explained to the Congressman that it would be “virtually impossible to hide such code written to change the voting results if anyone is able to review the uncompiled source code”

You want electronic voting? Fine. Provide a paper trail and open the source code to audited inspections.

This guy is testifying, so I tend to believe him. However, you would think he might have secreted away a copy of the code that could then be used to check the voting machines, no?