August 2003 Archives


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Very good reading around the net today on the subject of software patents and the SCO/Microsoft attack on Linux... yes, it seems there is even more evidence to support a collaboration of sorts.

First stop Slashdot for a well-phrased synopsis of a letter of remarkable foresight written to the US Patents and Trademarks Office back in 1991.

This led me to the weblog of a paralegal whose research uncovered a connection between SCO and Microsoft. What's most interesting here is the venture capital group who is buying up SCO Group stock, and thus contributing to the stock's recent (possibly artificial) climb, is also the top holder of Drugstore.com -- of which Mrs. Bill Gates was just elected a director. Even the comments contained some worthy reading: an article at newsforge.com on the same topic.

A connection between SCO & MS has already been suggested by Open-source advocate Bruce Perens, though this recent 'evidence' suggests that any collaboration they may secretly have has the potential to backfire on Microsoft in cataclysmic proportion.


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The recent court case, Eolas v. Microsoft, has prompted the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to issue a statement and launch a public discussion list to consider and contribute to the range of options available. Microsoft indicated to the W3C that it will soon be making changes to its Internet Explorer browser software in response to this ruling. The W3C believes that the changes Microsoft plans may affect "a large number of existing Web pages." That may be the understatement of the year.

As I mentioned before, the current state of US software patent law, not to mention trademarks and copyrights, is potentially devastating to innovation, competition and to consumer rights. Just this week, European economists rejected software patent proposals similar to the liberalized patenting process of the US, saying:

"the proposed directive will provide opportunities and incentives for the construction of extensive portfolios of software patents. The exploitation of these portfolios will have serious detrimental effects on European innovation, growth and competitiveness."

And yet the GOP continues its imperialistic obsession without regard to tidying its own internal affairs. From Lauryn Hill: "how you gonna win when you ain't right within?"


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From Slashdot comes news of Disney's first walk-around, interactive animatronic character, Lucky the dinosaur, is now strolling around Disney's California Adventure. Lucky walks on two legs but pulls a cart both for balance and to hide the electronic equipment which gives him life.

Check out Lucky walking in this video, and a demonstration of Lucky's spontaneity in this video. Other pictures and videos may be found at this site.


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Nintendo confirmed today at the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in London that Mario Kart: Double Dash, set to release on November 17, will contain a bonus disc containing demos of forthcoming releases plus a remake of a classic Nintendo game(!)

Could it be Mario Kart 64 or the SNES classic Super Mario Kart? Either way you call it, Kart racers are winners this Fall!


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According to the Entertainment Software Association...

50% of all Americans (over 6) play video games.
43% of those who play interactive games are female.
29 is the average age of a game player.

Computer & video game sales grew eight (8) percent in 2002, to 6.9 billion.

16 of the top 20 best selling games in 2002 were rated 'E' for Everyone, or 'T' for Teen.


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Now that summer quarter is over and fall quarter is not for another 2 weeks away, I have been enjoying the time off relaxing, helping my parents with projects around the house, and of course playing games.

I finally broke down and bought Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III just to see for myself if it's truly the scourge of video games that I used to think it was. It's actually comical that I once thought that. The game is funny, a tad violent and it certainly does live up to its "M" ESRB rating. When driving around the streets of Liberty City I often found it difficult to control the car I was driving and stay on the street without hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk once in a while. I thought it was funny... "oops". The game is a cartoon and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Next time I'm feeling appalled about a game, I'm going to make sure I play it first before judging it.

The other games I've been playing while waiting for Nintendo's F-Zero GX to show up are: Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, and Eternal Darkness:

I was slightly disappointed with Super Mario Sunshine when it first came out, as it relies heavily on the use of repetitive tasks and "secret" mini-games. My second time through is a bit more fun due to my lowered expectations.

Metroid Prime remains one of my all-time favorite games for any system, period. It is remarkable, gorgeous, challenging, and brilliant. I think I'm on my 5th time through the game and I still enjoy it. I never could finish it on hard mode however.

And Eternal Darkness has been doing a great job of scaring the piss out of me. An erie game with a dark theme and bizarre situations. Sometimes though late at night when the house is quiet, I put the game away from fright.

F-Zero GX should be here by Thursday, though I have plenty of games in my library to tap into to help me pass the time. It's turning out to be a very nice break from school.


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"Hey, until they can be bothered to show something real, I don't think it's even worth discussing."

Linux creator, Linus Torvalds, comments in an interview on the recent showing of code by SCO Group.


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"The Enneagram is a system which divides all human behavior into nine personality divisions. Your main type is whichever of those nine behaviors you use most, in your case Type 1w2. Your mean type, Type 1w9, is who you are on average, based on the sum influence of all nine behaviors."
Take Free Enneagram Test


Thanks to Jer at SoBlo for the link to the personality test.


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What is most remarkable to me in this age of the Internet, is how fast communications travel and, more importantly, how fast we can accomplish tasks because of it.

Case in point: on Monday (8/18) SCO Group presented 'evidence' during their customers and partners conference detailing specific code which they claim has been copied from their intellectual property (Unix) by IBM who then made it available to the Linux community unlawfully. SCO claims that their code now shows up in the Linux kernel and presented slides showing a side-by-side comparison as proof. Pictures of those slides soon appeared on the Web, and a complete analysis of the origin of the code contained in them surfaced soon afterwards. In simple terms, SCO was playing smoke and mirrors to fool its audience and garner support for its cause.

Bruce Perens, Open Source advocate, has posted this analysis of the slides which exposes the truth.

It's even ironic that SCO Group's CEO, Darl McBride, said in a recent interview:

"The point about open source that I believe is really cool is this notion that you have thousands of eyes around the world looking at a similar problem, and obviously when you have more people focused on something, you can solve things better."

I'm thinking now he wishes he never said that.


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Data Communication & Computer Networks
Intro: Database & Data Modeling
American Sign Language I
OS Scripting




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A list of games and their release dates I'm looking forward to in the next 3 months...

Click on a game's box art to visit the respective site, if one exists. It's a great time to be a gamer with a Gamecube!


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Finally, our wonderful and caring US Government (expressed with just a hint of cynicism) seems to be getting with the program to protect the public by investigating the methods employed by the RIAA for going after users of music file-sharing programs. Thanks to the folks at Wired for publishing this article announcing the Senate panel's plans.


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More fuel to the fire of the gathering storm over copyright and patent infrigement claims in this digital age of the Internet: A small University of California spin-off named Eolas Technologies won its suit this week against Microsoft to the tune of $521 million. Filed back in 1999, a federal court in Chicago found that Microsoft infringed Eolas' patents by incorporating plug-ins and applets into Internet Explorer.

If upheld in appeals court, the decision could significantly impact the current browser market since all of them support plug-ins and applets to some extent. Developers might have to pull support for these technologies from their open source browsers since having to pay for patent licenses would be prohibitive.

What's interesting to note are the comments coming from industry criticising the current state of intellectual property rights:

"...software patents are harming innovation, competition and standards compliance in the Internet age." -David Faure, KDE devloper
"The patent system is kind of broken for software. In many ways it's too easy to get a patent, and too expensive to fight it." -Larry Rosen, lawyer
"Once again we see the tragedy that software patents represent for the industry, because they allow legal opportunists to capitalize on the work of others. That's why software patents are a really bad idea--they encourage a kind of land-grab mentality." -Tim O'Reilly, computer book publisher

This sounds like and reminds me of the current clash with the recording industry over alleged copyright infringement.

I believe that people have the right to gain from their creative talents and inventions, but there needs to be some form of limits established to prevent those rights from interfering with innovation, competition, and consumer rights. Like the concept of "fair use", these limitations would require flexibility and interpretation to evolve with society, technology, and practices as we assimilate with the digital realm.

Something's definitely broke, and we need to fix it.


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Lately, a day doesn't go by where there isn't an article that appears somewhere about the problem of spam clogging the Internet arteries and mailboxes of the world. Politicians are fighting over possible legislation to combat spam, technologists are discussing new technologies or changes to old protocols to combat spam, and recipients are complaining loudly about spam.

I say... "What spam?"

I believe I have the spam "problem" firmly under control, and it is to the point where I receive no spam at all. Want to know how? Read on.

Get a web client email account. To completely avoid spam, or at least keep it well under control, you will need to have a web client email account. Most any free email account will do, though some such as hotmail have spam problems of their own, so pick one wisely. I use a free email account from a video games site I frequent regularly, ign.com.

Don't read web client email. When you do receive email in your web client account, scan through the headings and delete immediately any you do not recognize who the sender is. Do not read them first! Delete any and all messages which appear to be spam. Believe me, you won't be missing a thing.

Be selective. Only give out your primary email account to friends, family and trusted associates. This does not include sites you visit where it asks you to enter your email address. In almost every situation you come to where your email address is requested, your web client email account is the one to use. Never, ever, ever give out your primary email address to anyone you do not know unless you trust them!

Never forward. Are you one of those who gets lots of email with a subject line: "Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: ..."? If so, you are setting yourself up to receive spam. These types of messages carry with them lots of overhead in terms of previous addresses it was mailed to, as well as addresses it was sent to including yours. I believe these to be treasure troves for email address thieves, and anyone eavesdropping on the net for this purpose will likely snag your address along with the many others contained in the same email. So, never, ever, ever forward messages on to others. If you receive a funny email that you absolutely must share, extract the funny part -- whether a link or a block of text, or a gif or jpg image -- and create a fresh new email message using your web client email account and send it that way.

While I won't guarantee that spam will stop for you as it has for me, I do believe it is very likely you will have similar results if you practice the guidelines I have outlined above.


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I don't think anyone would argue that Google took the world by storm. What seemed like overnight, people everywhere began pointing to Google. And just shortly before that, Google began pointing to the sites we were looking for with uncanny accuracy. The reason was not a fluke: a Stanford graduate by the name of Larry Page developed a unique and powerful mathematical algorithm for ranking web pages by consensus, assigning a score to each page which takes into consideration such factors as who is linking to the page and how often it is updated. Not surprisingly, Larry coined the equivocal term for the technology: PageRank.

But Google has not been without its criticism. With the rise in popularity of blogging and people creating links in unprecedented numbers, is anyone surprised by the resulting 'Google wash' that occurs?

Was anyone besides me surprised to learn that the same search terms entered into Google on different computers will yield the same results? After all, with all the spy ware and cookies out there which personalize your browsing and shopping experiences, why not your search results?

Which brings me to this morning's headline over at CNet's news.com. Apparently Stanford is attempting to eclipse the success of the original Google algorithm by extending it, giving it a "personal touch." Apparently personalization is the next big thing coming in search technology, say some search industry pundits:

"Personalization is one of the holy grails for search. Everybody's working on (it) to some degree or another. When it comes out of the labs and what flavor it takes are the big questions."

Will personalizing search technologies find users quicker than Google did? Will it be the end of the 'Google wash'? Or will it merely be another way for advertisers to locate and spam us?

Whatever it metamorphoses into, I just hope the option remains for a "Classic Google".


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Suggested reading.


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done with summer quarter!


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The last thing I needed first thing this morning was to get infected with a bunch of zombies.

My parents were relocating the computer equipment in their office this morning preparing for new desks to be delivered today, and disconnected the cable modem and router. When I got up to continue working on my 341-Data Comm paper due tonight at midnight, I had to reconnect myself to the Internet. Instead of hooking up the router, I plugged myself directly into the cable modem instead... MISTAKE!

Within about an hour my computer was host to zombies! After a bit of research I managed to eliminate them all from my computer, and here's what I did in case this happens to you (and you happen to be running Windows 2000 Pro as I am):

[1] go to Foundstone.com and download their free intrusion detection program Fport
[2] run it to see what program is associated with unknown open ports
[3] the offending program was msmngr32.exe
[4] open task manager and stop the msmngr32 process
[5] delete the msmngr32.exe file from the hard drive

No more zombies!! Now back to work.


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Doing some research on digital rights management (DRM) technologies for a paper I'm writing for Prof. Irving's 341-Data Comm class, and came across this very appropriately worded campaign from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and I wanted to 'share'. Click the image to the right to see what they're up to, or just click here.

Update: better still, send a letter to congress urging hearings on P2P technology. Excerpt from form letter:

"I support compensation for artists and songwriters, and I also believe that the law should reflect the norms of society. Copyright is currently out of step with the American public and it is time to take a hard look at how we might fix it."

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You are Apple Dos. Simple and primitive with a good understanding of the common man.  You're still a work in progress, but a good start.

While still procrastinating, I came across Prof. Irving's latest blog entry which led me to this little quiz which rates which OS you are most like based on several seemingly irrelevant questions. Cute, and strangely perceptive.

I always did have an affinity for all things Apple, though I no longer have need for the platform since Windows graphics and audio applications matured; and it only took two decades(!) I can even remember using Apple DOS on my parents Apple IIe, and playing games like Apple Panic. Wow, that was a long time ago!


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Well it's time to shift gears into hyperdrive as I head into the home stretch with two remaining courses this summer at RIT. 360-Database is virtually complete, with just the final exam to go next Tuesday the 12th. Though it's 341-Data Comm that poses the real threat to my sanity with 4 assignments and 1 term paper to be finished this week. Ugh. And I was just beginning to enjoy writing again in my weblog. Here's hoping the writing assignments don't sour me to creating new entries like they did last month.

Wish me luck.


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I've been feeling some anxiety lately and so I've been doing a little meditating to figure out why, and I think I know the answer: I need a creative release.

It's been 2 years now since my last mix CD and I'm presently without a mixer, so I'm not about to be doing another anytime soon, I'm sorry to say. I've contacted the program manager at WITR, RIT's college radio station, to see about doing a mix show. I'm to show up at the new member meeting first week of school this Fall to go through the proper procedures... so maybe there will be an outlet for my DJ skills soon.

I can always write in my blog, though I've been feeling as though I need to add a little more 'color' to my posts, something original and creative. Putting this together with my discovery about the source of my anxiety has lead me to conclude that I need a digital camera.

Anyone willing to help out a struggling college student? =)


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I came across this link from those crazy guys over at IGN. It's a clip from a Japanese talent show contest where a Ping Pong match was conducted live in "bullet time" Matrix style. Cute and hilarious.

And my friend Wayne sent me this link which is from a French condom commercial, I'm told. Very cute and hilarious.


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Been hitting some golf balls lately between writing projects, gives me something to look forward to. Mario Golf for the Gamecube was just released this week and it is a spectacular update from the N64 version, with fantasy locales and graphics that will make your jaw drop and mouth water. The play mechanics are updated as well with very tight controls and a variety of options. The controls are easy to pick up for the novice, and there's significant depth for the serious gamer. Nintendo strikes again with a very fun, very pretty, very accessible game for all ages. A classic Mario experience.

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