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20 December, 2002

Trusted Computing?

If you care about the future of computing, check out Daniel C. Silverstein's article at the bIPlog: TCPA, An Offering You Can't Refuse.

TCPA refers to The Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, and future of computing (if HP/Compaq/IBM/Intel/Microsoft get their way) is called Palladium.

It's a future of mandatory upgrades and byzantine content controls, a future without sharing. It's a future where the fair use rights granted to consumers by law are revoked by technical measures. But most of all it's a read-only future. And, if we're not careful, we'll eat it up like a New York Times bestseller.

Posted on 20 December, 2002

Steve Ballmer's Christmas Message

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, wishes you a Merry Christmas, in his trademark style.


Posted on 20 December, 2002

Censorship Via EULA

Did you ever read the End User License Agreement (EULA) that accompanies your software? I didn't think so.

A EULA is almost always a lengthy document full of incomprehensible legalese that supposedly tells you what you can and cannot do with the software you purchased. And by simply clicking a button, you indicate your full agreement -- which almost always grants the software company every conceivable right, and takes away all of your rights.

Some EULAs, I think, go too far. For example, here's a quote from Microsoft's EULA for SQL Server 2000:

e. Benchmark Testing. You may not disclose the results of any benchmark test of either the Server Software or Client Software to any third party without Microsoft's prior written approval.

In other words, if you run some tests to compare the performance of Microsoft's product with the performance of a competing product, you can't tell anyone the results. Unless, of course, you get Microsoft's written permission. What a crock!

InfoWorld's Ed Foster has more to say about this issue here and here.

Posted on 20 December, 2002

And the Winner is...

... www.Brophy.com (link opens in new window)

The Category: Worst Use of Flash on a Web Page.

I'm not even sure what this company does. I was so amazed at the extremely bad interface, that I was distracted from the actual content.

Using Flash for site navigation is almost always a bad idea. No doubt, some people will be impressed, and classify this as a "cool" web site. Well, maybe it is cool -- as long as you aren't actually trying to get any information.

I suspect that the design goals for this site were:

  1. Set it up so people who have JavaScript disabled just get an obnoxious looking screen

  2. Make the user wait before we display anything

  3. Create a menu system that is completely baffling

  4. Put all text in a graphic window, so it can't be copied

  5. Make sure that the text cannot be resized

  6. Do everything you can to make this site mysterious

  7. Make everything slow

  8. Violate every accessibility rule ever created

  9. Make sure the search engines find no text to index

  10. Hijack the browser's Back button so people can't leave

And I'm pleased to report that every goal was achieved.

Posted on 20 December, 2002

The Very Curious Language of George W.

Just in time for the holiday gift season: A daily quote calendar featuring the words of George W. Bush. If you don't want to buy the calendar, you can read the sample quotes. For example:

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe, and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right."

"There is a lot of speculation and I guess there is going to continue to be a lot of speculation until the speculation ends."

Posted on 20 December, 2002

Monitoring the Internet

According to this story in the New York Times, George W. Bush wants to create a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet.

While the proposal is meant to gauge the overall state of the worldwide network, some officials of Internet companies who have been briefed on the proposal say they worry that such a system could be used to cross the indistinct border between broad monitoring and wiretap.

If the government had its way, they would probably like to make every ISP owner a law enforcement officer.

Posted on 20 December, 2002

Women in Prison

Someone sent me this link to the Prison Women site. I assumed that it was a joke -- but it seems to be for real.

It's set up with a shopping cart. Locate a prisoner, and add her to your cart. For $3.00, you'll get her prison address so you can start up a correspondence.

Upon further investigation, I find that this site is not unique, and there is competition for this service. Several similar services exist, including Women Behind Bars, Prison Pen Pals, and Ladies of the Pen.

Posted on 20 December, 2002