27 November 2007

Close encounter with Facebook Beacon

Groundswell (Incorporating Charlene Li's Blog): Close encounter with Facebook Beacon

You'll have to read the story -- it's not very long. It's basically one person's experience with in-your-face data mining. ^_^

Imagine if Facebook's "Beacon" started logging items you look at, too, and not just ones that you buy! Wouldn't that be a blast?

26 November 2007

Software Group Targets Small Business

Software Group Targets Small Business - Journal and Courier Online - Nation and World

In one case, a BSA raid on musical-instrument maker Ernie Ball Inc. cost the company $90,000 in a settlement. Soon after, Microsoft sent other businesses in his region a flyer offering discounts on software licenses, along with a reminder not to wind up like Ernie Ball.

Enraged, CEO Sterling Ball vowed never to use Microsoft software again, even if "we have to buy 10,000 abacuses." He shifted to open-source software, which lacks such legal entanglements because its underlying code is freely distributed.

This is why I have never had a problem with the BSA -- they're doing what the law allows them to do. Don't get angry at them -- they're just a symptom to a much great underlying problem (proprietary software).

It's actually a good thing that happened to Ernie Ball -- open-source software now has a lifelong buddy. ^_^

For many businesses, open-source has seemed technically daunting or unable to match the proprietary programs seen as essential in some industries. These days, however, the march of technology might be changing that.

That's one hope of Michael Gaertner, the architect who worried his BSA encounter would crush his business. Now he wants to rid himself of the Autodesk, Microsoft and Adobe software involved in the case.

"It's not like they have really good software. It's just that it's widespread and it's commonly used," Gaertner said. "It's going to be a while, but eventually, we plan to get completely disengaged from those software vendors that participate in the BSA."

Exactly right. You don't need proprietary software -- open-source software has alternatives for nearly everything.

Ext 1 to 2 Migration Guide

Ext 1 to 2 Migration Guide

Good lord -- what a mess. -_-'

I've got a LOT of code to change. However, just from looking over the ExtJS 2.0 examples, I have to admit that the new code is much easier to write. (Not that ExtJS was ever hard!).

The way that they consolidated many of the classes into larger ones is quite nice, and you can just tell from the examples that the new code is incredibly fast. Time to get to work.

20 November 2007

Google's Immersive Camera

Immersive Media Streaming Immersive Demos

Well, they didn't make it, but they're using it for Google Maps Street View -- visit the page and wait for it to load, and then freely move the camera around after it's playing.

And that was all done in real-time, too. Simply amazing. Imagine this used as a training simulator, with the ability to look in any direction.

Of course, I'm just thinking of the possible video game appliations. :P

Discs with 15m bank details lost in the UK

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Discs with 15m bank details lost: "Confidential details of 15 million child benefit recipients are on computer discs lost by HM Revenue and Customs, the BBC understands. The chairman of the organisation, Paul Gray, has resigned. Revenue and Customs says it does not believe the records - names, addresses, date of birth and bank accounts - have fallen into the wrong hands."

Just another story about incompetent data security, this time in the UK.

Several of the comments on this BBC article mention new "ID cards" that are going to be released soon -- I suppose it's something akin to the "Real ID" act passed in America.

In case you didn't know, putting all information into one big collective basket when the government already can't keep data under wraps is a bad idea. It's why monolithic "Papers, Please" data information systems are a bad idea.

Now, whenever data is compromised, it'll be all of your information falling into the wrong hands, and not just a selective subset held by whatever bank/agency/department is using it.

19 November 2007

Congress Moves Forward With Required University Subsidies To Napster, Ruckus

Techdirt: Congress Moves Forward With Required University Subsidies To Napster, Ruckus

With my spouse still in college, this whole matter hits me personally. I just love the fact that a part of our tuition money is helping to subsidize the business of Napster, of all crazy things.

Has the world lost its mind?

The Independent Loading of ExtJS Data Stores and Firebug Debugging

(Pretentious enough sounding title?)

What follows is a true, but humorous story.

Picture this:

You're creating a grid with the ExtJS framework. You load the grid with remote data. Once the grid is loaded, you perform some creative filtering on it, via Ext.data.Store.filter().

Now, filtering aside, there's certain records that you want to retain from the date store and be able to access later.

How do you do this without constantly filtering and unfiltering the data?

Well, you can try and grab those records out of the store before the filtering is done and place them in temporary variables, of course.

Now, here's the funny part:

You've called .load() to load your date store, and then you grab out the records you need with .getById() (or whatever your favorite Store method is). You then continue to create your grid.

(If you're an obsessive documentation reader you may have already figured out the dilemma here.)

You check after the grid has been rendered and see that there's nothing in your temporary variables -- nothing was grabbed via .getById(). So, you set a breakpoint and step through the code with Firebug...

...and the temporary variables load fine. WTH, eh?

So, you try it again, sans debugger, it doesn't work. No temp variables loaded.

Try it again with the debugger... and the variables load fine. What the hell's going on here? You haven't changed any code since the initial testing.

Then you read the damn documentation and figure out what you should've already known -- .load() is asynchronous, and any operations you're doing on the date store after you call it are happening before it's fully loaded. That's why the .load() method includes a "callback" parameter for you to stick your post-loading code in.

That's why it worked perfectly in Firebug -- Firebug was taking its sweet time loading the breakpoint you set right after the .load() call, and during this time the call came back.

I guess the moral of the story is that JavaScript debugging can sometimes get weird when entering the realm of ajax-enabled web applications. :P

That being said, I wouldn't trade either ExtJS or Firebug for the world. :P

16 November 2007

Seiko Epson Exhibits B6-size E-paper Terminal Measuring 3mm in Thickness, Weighing 57g -- Tech-On!

Seiko Epson Exhibits B6-size E-paper Terminal Measuring 3mm in Thickness, Weighing 57g -- Tech-On!

I want I want I want I want Me Me Me Me My My My My Now Now Now... *draws breath*

B6 size. 57g weight. 3mm thick. 1600x1200 resolution. Runs on a single watch battery. It even has a USB port.

Not to mention the fact that E-Ink costs almost nothing to produce.

The future is here, finally! Yay!

09 November 2007

Linux wins Nigerian school desktops back from Microsoft

Linux wins Nigerian school desktops back from Microsoft - Computerworld UK - The Voice of IT Management

Ugh. You know you're corrupt when the government of Nigeria* steps in to thwart you.

Basically, Mandriva Linux had made contracts with Nigeria to supply classroom computers featuring their Linux operating system, after which Microsoft promptly went into the country and offered $400,000 in "assistance" (read: "bribes") to get the Nigerians distributing the computers to erase Mandriva Linux and install Windows XP.

Why? Because they can't stand someone using Linux as their first computer experience. Wouldn't be good for their market share, you know. Those people might decide to even... buy a computer with Linux on it one day!

*To any Nigerian readers I may have -- you cannot possibly be ignorant of the current Internet phenomenon involving Nigerian scams made through email. Laugh -- it's okay. Feel free to make fun of America's corrupt government if you wish -- we can take it.

SETI: Is It Worth It?

SPACE.com -- SETI: Is It Worth It?

The article gives some good points about why donating time and money to various things like SETI—even if you don't get any immediate rewards from it—is still useful. However, I've seriously started to consider changing my BOINC's main processing time to protein-folding of some sort; at least then I won't feel the need to constantly justify the time spent processing BOINC.

However, I do think that SETI could be used more to just study various stellar phenomena instead of explicitly searching for life; couldn't they just study the radio waves given off from quasars and black holes and whatnot? I'm sure somebody needs processing done on that stuff, and they wouldn't even need to change the way they work, since it involves doing exactly the same thing (listening in to various points in space).

08 November 2007

YouTube - JAXA Kaguya(SELENE) Lunar Images no audio

YouTube - JAXA Kaguya(SELENE) Lunar Images no audio

Simply amazing.

I find it amazing in how (I'm pretty sure) this is Japan's first Lunar probe, and everything is going so well. No foul-ups that I know of, great pictures returned. Is their space agency that good?

02 November 2007

MySpace, Bebo and SixApart To Join Google OpenSocial

Checkmate? MySpace, Bebo and SixApart To Join Google OpenSocial (confirmed)

Well, ho-lee-shit.

This whole "OpenSocial" business is only being released by Google now because they were snubbed by Facebook in lieu of Microsoft (for ad contracts), so I wasn't too impressed with it at first.

Though, in my opinion, MySpace quickly joining the team is probably more a sign of MySpace's dropping popularity recently than any sort of supreme strategery.

Scams Use Striptease to Break Web Traps

Scams Use Striptease to Break Web Traps - Wired News - AP News
In a new online striptease, the buxom, beautiful blonde who promises to remove her slinky scraps of lingerie doesn't want your money. She's interested in your brain. Really.

The striptease is the latest attempt to defeat so-called CAPTCHA systems, which is short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Those safeguards require users to prove they are human by reading wavy, oddly shaped jumbles of letters and numbers that appear in an image and typing them out.


Trend Micro researchers say the scam appears to be isolated for now to spammers trying to register bogus e-mail addresses and flood chat rooms with unwanted pitches. But they worry schemes to infiltrate financial institutions could soon appear.

Uh, yeah... just a tip, everyone.

If you're using a bank right now who's online web security somehow incorporates a CAPTCHA, please find another bank, immediately. CAPTCHA's are for blogs and web forums, not for protecting your money.

Who writes this fearmongering crap?

01 November 2007

Comcast statement about FCC's actions regarding contracts with multiple dwelling units

Comcast statement about FCC's actions regarding contracts with multiple dwelling units | Reuters

Oh, just go cry me a fucking river already. Yes, this is same Comcast who's currently blatantly lying about spoofing internet connections between users. I'm sorry, but they're getting no sympathy from me.

This particular ruling hits me personally -- I recently moved to a new apartment complex, with a different cable carrier than what I was used to, and saw the quality of my internet service go down considerably. Oh, my speed went up, but the amount of outages went up, too.

Now, my old cable service was a local company in my town -- the new service is from one of the big national companies. No wonder, eh? I've complained, but with my apartment complex being locked into an exclusive contract with this company, what incentive does the company have to improve anything? Where else can I go for high-speed internet access?

(In case you're wondering, yes, I've priced DSL, and it's even more expensive for slow access. I guess it's only economical for people who already have a land line.)