Blogspot? Not.

Over half of all of the comment and trackback spam I see comes from So as of today, any comment or trackback that contains the text "blogspot" gets deleted without prejudice.

I realize that it is a difficult problem to resolve, but something needs to happen, and soon.


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I can always close my eyes.

It seems that forcing me to watch commercials on the DVDs I’ve paid for isn’t enough. Philips now wants to force me to watch television commercials:

Philips Electronics has done it again. Flush with heady optimism after successful products such as the digital compact cassette (DCC) and the super audio CD (SACD), the redoubtable European giant has developed a way to keep television free for the masses for the foreseeable future – a patent application for a device which prevents a user from changing the channel during commercials.

The networks just don’t seem to get the fact that the viewer actually gets a say in what they watch. But then again the viewer isn’t the customer – they’re the product of a sort. The television networks sell viewership to advertisers; the more viewers the higher the price for an ad. But if those viewers can’t be show to be watching then ad agencies are not going to cough up big bucks for ads. There is already a huge decline in newspaper movie advertising.

The one saving grace here is the patent system itself. Perhaps manufacturers will be afraid of violating the Philips patent so they won’t implement similar technology. Of course, I can still change the channel, leave the room, or I could do the unthinkable and turn the tv off.

Now wouldn’t it ruin the networks’ day if people just stopped watching altogether?

I was stunned by all the fuss over Katie Couric jumping to CBS as anchor. Network news is in permanent decline. What’s the big deal?


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Free? Yes. Worth it? No.

When I’m working in Monrovia I stay at the Holiday Inn. The service is incredible, and I love the hotel.

There is just one problem. They have free WiFi.

How is that a problem you ask? Well the WiFi service is spotty at best, and frequently I can’t get a connection, or the connection just disappears. It makes it very difficult to actually do much from the hotel.

But when I asked about it I got the biggest shock of all. The people at the front desk explained that the entire hotel – all 10 floors of it – shares a single 1 megabit per second connection. Though I have 5 Mbps at home, I am now reduced to somewhere around the speed of dialup, when I get a connection at all.

But it’s free, right?


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Internet privacy.

You know that there is a problem with privacy on the internet when even the terrorists are worried about it:

Recently, postings on jihadist Web sites have expressed increasing concern about spyware, password protection, and surveillance on chat rooms and instant-messaging systems.

One forum recently posted a guide for Internet safety and anonymity on the Internet, advising readers of ways to circumvent hackers or government officials.


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Misunderstanding patents.

Om Malik notes that Google filed a patent today for voice-based search technology. Actually Google was granted a patent today for voice-based search technology. The patent was actually filedon February 7, 2001.

Now this is probably just a simple mistake, but I am amazed at how little people actually understand patents, and how frequently they misuse terms when discussing them. From the time a company actually files an application with the patent office, it is eighteen (18) months before the patent is "laid open" and is viewable by others as a patent application. It then may take several years before the actual patent is granted. For example, this particular Google patent took over five (5) years to be granted.

So just because a patent hasn’t been granted doesn’t mean someone hasn’t applied for one. And by the time it is granted, the idea isn’t new; it’s been around for a few years.


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No satisfaction.

After almost 30 years, the Rolling Stones were allowed to play in China, though their song choices had to be approved by Chinese censors, who listed several songs they could not play. China is extremely protective of the culture that their citizens are exposed to. But the tickets, with a minimum price of $40 per seat, were priced far too high for local citizens, limiting attendance to mainly foreigners and prompting this comment from Mick Jagger:

"I am pleased the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of expatriate bankers and their girlfriends," Mr. Jagger said, adding that he had 400 other songs to choose from, so "it doesn’t really matter."

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We’re not telling you.

You know something’s big when it makes the LA Times. Eight people were apparently murdered yesterday about an hour from where I live. Typically for Canada though the police aren’t saying much: "We’re not in a position to reveal how they were murdered," Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Dave Rektor said.

Police in Canada rarely give out much information. Now the spokesperson has just said that they were murdered, so they clearly know that much. So were there gunshot holes, stab wounds, or do they suspect that they were forced to ingest arsenic? It isn’t really that complicated now is it? So will we ever know the truth?

Well last week there was a explosion at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Toronto. There were initial concerns about terrorism, but the police quickly ruled that out. Their statements included this:

The ceiling fell down on the victim, bringing down a significant amounts of debris, including wires and batteries from an air-freshening device that might have contributed to suspicions of a bomb, Staff-Sgt. Cole said.

Now I have two commercial air fresheners in my basement. They each contain a single battery and no visible wires, and I expect that they would melt beyond recognition in a fire. So saying that they found wires and batteries would send up a red flag for me. But on further investigation the explosion has now been ruled a suicide:

Based on the evidence gathered at the scene from the coffee shop — one of the busiest in Toronto — and several eyewitness reports, investigators concluded that the incident Sunday afternoon was not accidental.

"Through various aspects of the investigation we have now determined that the injuries leading to the man’s death were self-inflicted," Detective Sergeant Myron Demkiw said yesterday.


Police have said they believe gasoline in a canister ignited in the washroom.

If the police believe that the injuries were self-inflicted, shouldn’t they have said that the suspect ignited the gasoline? Is there more to this story?

We’ll never know, because once again, they’re not telling.


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The benefits of piracy.

Microsoft claims to have lost $14 billion to software piracy last year, but that might not be such a bad thing:

Of course, Microsoft executives prefer that people buy, but theft can build market share more quickly, as company co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates acknowledged in an unguarded moment in 1998.

"Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don’t pay for the software. Someday they will, though," Gates told an audience at the University of Washington. "And as long as they’re going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

Microsoft sure isn’t making it easy for people in developing countries to buy the products either:

The gist of the beneficial piracy argument is that the retail price Microsoft charges for signature products such as Windows and Office — as much as $669, depending on the version — can rival the average annual household income in some developing countries. So the vast majority of those users opt for pirated versions.

But Microsoft still benefits because the piracy still helps to establish their products as global standards.

Via the Huffington Post, which I occasionally read even though it attracts comments like this:

And who buys M$? Stupid people who don’t know any better–like the people who are Republicans.

Does that mean that Democrats prefer Apple?


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Why run Windows?

Charlie Owen, of Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition Development Team, asks:

If the MacOS is so wonderful why do I need to even consider running Windows?

After using Microsoft DOS and Windows (every version from 1.0 on) for over 20 years, I switched to a Macintosh Powerbook a scant few months ago. The Mac became my primary, and only, computer, and I was able to do everything on it I could do on a PC. It was absolutely the sexiest piece of of hardware I’d ever seen. Since I got it I haven’t had to think about viruses or spyware. And before I get the inevitable comments that if I properly locked down my Windows PC I wouldn’t have those problems either, please note that I haven’t had to learn how to lock down my Mac. I haven’t had to do anything. Yes I know that is purely because of their lower market penetration but I still like it.

But there is one thing that I still couldn’t do on it – develop and test Windows software – which I still have to do because a lot of folks still run Windows. And Microsoft’s tools don’t run on the Mac.

So I had to buy a new PC. All it has on it is a Visual Studio development environment. Nothing else. If I had known that I could do the same thing on a Mac, I wouldn’t have bought the PC. If it wasn’t for the need to develop Windows applications, I wouldn’t run Windows XP at all.

Now there a probably a lot of people whose companies mandate the use of Windows, possibly because they use applications than only run on Windows (probably a shrinking list), but more likely because of the cheaper PC hardware. But sample comparisons show that this really isn’t the case. And the Mac came with plenty of complete applications included (like iChat, GarageBand, iCal, etc.) and a very simple way to burn CDs and DVDs by dragging files into a folder and clicking "Burn". And things just work together more elegantly.

Macs aren’t for everyone, but from my point of view I can do everything I need to (and everything I did before) for the same price, with lower risk from viruses and malware, and my machine also makes a fashion statement. And now I can even do my Windows development and testing on it.


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