I’m in the middle of planning a trip (OK, closer to the start than the middle) to the US at the moment, and it occurs to me that my profile, plus my writings from earlier today, could just mean that a computer somewhere in the FBI or the CIA wants an agent to dig a little deeper.
From the perspective of a computer which has been programmed to look out for key words and phrases, this extract from my blog post about the postal system earlier today might seem a tad suspicious.
I would [..] embed some [..] devices in items I post
Yes, the statement was about tracking devices, and one would hope that an FBI agent would see that and dismiss the computer’s concerns, but I still think the computer would be worried about talk of posting devices and embedding things. The blog post also mentioned ricin, a poisonous substance which was mailed to the US President and a senator today, and so chatter about it would probably be high on the priority list for intelligence-gathering computers.
If I was putting together an automated system which looks out for suspicious activity of the terrorist kind, and was mainly basing it on key words and phrases, I would probably set it up so that after identifying something as potentially suspicious, it would then take another look over it for other, less immediately obvious, suspicious phrases which might indicate a plot or some sort of code. Looking back over that blog post, I listed my postal address in an unusual format:
a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272
And talked about the inside of government buildings:
They finally found it somewhere in the PO
parcels which are [..] stored in the post office’s back rooms
wandering back out to the back rooms
A drug inference could even be drawn from
Nattie did give the letter a good sniff
or possibly an explosives inference if the computer works out that Nattie is a dog.
Further examination of my blog brings up photos of phone towers, electricity substations, and a map of a powerline which feeds a government building.
Obviously, this doesn’t add up to anything suspicious, but I can see how, at a time when security services are on edge, the combination of my profile and writings could be enough to make a computer suspicious, and perhaps make security services want to take a closer look at me. Dare I say it, I won’t be surprised if I get pulled aside at Customs in the US next year for a little chat…in fact, I’ll be a little disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
All of this reminds me of a story from the start of this year about the FBI scanning emails for certain words and phrases which apparently are common in messages about fraudulent activity. The words and phrases were “gray area”, “coverup”, “nobody will find out”, “do not volunteer information”, “write‑off”, “failed investment”, “off the books”, “they owe it to me”, “not ethical”, and “illegal”.
Glenn Beck had some fun with this on his radio show and jokingly suggested that they (Glenn or one of his co-hosts) should send an email containing all of those words just to confuse an FBI computer. Sure enough, co-host Pat Gray sent the message, and went to some lengths to make some of the phrases fit.
I’m sitting here gazing up at a cloudy grey area of the sky wondering how to cover up this blemish that I have on my nose. As a dermatologist, I thought you might have an idea of what I could use so nobody will find out that I’ve broken out again like a teenager. If you do not volunteer the information, I’ll probably have to see a specialist.
Up until yesterday, I’ve been using Clearasil on it but I realized that I can write off that failed investment of $4.99 because it didn’t work.
I wasn’t able to use the cream you prescribed for me last week because I put the jar on top of some books at my parents’ house and wouldn’t you know it, I bumped into the table that those books were sitting on and a jar fell off the books and onto the floor and broke.
My parents said that since I loaned them $20 last month, they would be happy to pay for a new prescription because they owe it to me. But I told them I wasn’t sure if it was not ethical to provide the medication again so soon.
Anyway, if you can call me on that, please call in the Walgreens at Fourth and Main as I have found that to get the one on 29th and Main, you have to make an illegal U‑turn at the light, and I don’t want to do that.
Thanks again. Whatever you can do, Dr. Ahmed.
I found it much more amusing when I heard it go to air. The video of it is embedded in the page of the above link, but it’s not working for me. Thankfully I have my own recording of it.
(Audio credit: Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, Premiere Radio Network)
It seems that in areas of Central West NSW where 3G (not 4G) and ADSL1 (not ADSL2 or ADSL2+) services are all that is currently on offer, the National Broadband Network rollout will not occur until 2016.
Wasn’t the whole premise of the NBN that it would ensure that people in regional areas were to receive internet services which would be on-par with their counterparts in metropolitan areas? Wasn’t that the main reason behind the idea of spending $43 billion dollars? NBN Co’s Statement of Intent, which was tabled in Parliament on the 9th of October last year (more than three years after the project was started…one does have to wonder what took so long) certainly seems to think so:
In the Statement of Expectations released on 20 December 2010 the Government expressed three central objectives for the National Broadband Network (NBN):
– To deliver significant improvement in broadband service quality to all Australians;
– To address the lack of high-speed broadband in Australia, particularly outside of metropolitan areas; and
– To reshape the telecommunications sector.
The NBN will enable high-speed broadband to be delivered to all Australian households, businesses and enterprises, through a combination of Fibre-To-The-Premise (FTTP), Fixed Wireless and Satellite technologies
(start of page 4, NBN Co. Statement of Corporate Intent 2012-2015).
$43 billion dollars with a primary goal of getting regional areas up to scratch, and it’s going to take until after the “Statement of Corporate Intent” expires to get Central West NSW completed, and that’s if it doesn’t get delayed even further!
The demand is there. If the NBN wasn’t preventing the private sector from building private infrastructure, this would be done by now, or at least be almost completed. This whole government-run scheme is an expensive shambles.
I’ve noticed some odd things with Facebook before where it seems to have known things about me that it should not have been able to know, mainly about people that I have communicated with in the past. On more than one occasion it has suggested a potential friend for me…someone with whom I corresponded via email once, many years ago, and with whom I have no mutual friends on Facebook. About the only way Facebook could know that I ever communicated with this person is if it had access to my Gmail account, or the other person’s email account. I certainly didn’t grant access…maybe the other person did. Either way, it was odd.
Today, something which would have required a little bit more research.
Of late Facebook has become more forthright with its suggestions of pages in which it thinks I might have an interest. For the most part this has been benign and been about something which I recently mentioned on Facebook…but that one there about Bundanoon is odd, very odd.
To the best of my knowledge I have never mentioned Bundanoon on Facebook. I have mentioned the nearby town of Moss Vale, but that was many months ago. I have mentioned Bundanoon on this blog before, but that was years ago in relation to a nutty move in that town to ban bottled water. Until today though, Facebook has never suggested that I “like” Bundanoon’s page, so what’s changed?
Well, I think that’s simple and a tad scary. Last night I wrote a blog post about a dream I had which, among many other things, involved flying to Bundanoon. This blog post, once published, was automatically linked to in a notice about a new blog post on my Twitter account, and that tweet was automatically cross-posted to my Facebook account.
It seems to me that the only way Facebook could have determined that Bundanoon might be something in which I am interested, would be that upon seeing the link to my blog post, a Facebook robot has scoured the blog post for terms which relate to Facebook pages. With this as the case, how many of my other links has Facebook scoured? And how much of a profile has it built up about me? Equally importantly, how accurate is that profile of me? Because it has to be noted that I do not only link to things with which I am in complete agreement.
Beyond Facebook, it makes me wonder who else is building detailed profiles of me, and why they are doing so. I suspect quite strongly that I probably would not like the answer…and many others would feel the same way about the profiles being built about them.
Based on some feedback, I have decided that in order to make these Sunday Bits posts a bit easier to navigate, they will now contain a list of contents, and headers at the start of each section. I hope this makes it easier for you to read the bits that interest you, and skip the ones that don’t, rather than simply skipped the entire post due to a small section which doesn’t interest you.
In this edition:
* A prediction for tomorrow’s Labor leadership showdown
* The first radio ratings of 2012
* 2UE dumps their only weekday ratings winner of 2012
* Why telecommunication monopolies are bad
* A review (well, almost) of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
* Mount Majura in the fog
A prediction for tomorrow’s Labor leadership showdown
Tomorrow morning at about 11am we will know, one way or another, who will lead the Australian Labor Party for at least the next few days, and who will probably be sworn in as Prime Minister when Governor-General Quentin Bryce returns to the country on Thursday or Friday.
My prediction is that Julia Gillard will win, but not because she is a better leader. I expect her to win on the basis that the agreement with the independents and the Greens was made with her, and not with the Labor Party. Julia Gillard was very clever when she made sure that the agreement was made with herself and not the Party as it helps to secure her position as leader, a position which she would have known would, at some stage, come under threat due to the tenuous nature of minority government.
Electing anyone other than Julia Gillard as Labor leader potentially puts the agreement with the cross-benches under threat, and could potentially lead to a new general election. At this time, based on current opinion polling, Labor do not want to risk an election which is likely to see them annihilated.
For the record, I doubt that the Greens will ever back out of their effective coalition with Labor, as they really need Labor more than Labor need them, but the independents are another story as they might see disassociating themselves with the current disorganised mess as a way to secure their seats.
On the off chance that Kevin Rudd or some other as-yet unnamed contender takes over the Labor leadership, they have the advantage of having the Governor-General out of the country until at least Thursday, giving them time to negotiate to keep the independents and the Greens on-side…because it would be terribly embarrassing and destructive to themself and the Labor party to take over as Prime Minister and then immediately have an election called due to a no-confidence motion succeeding in the parliament.
Also, while it is true that a state governor could swear in a new Prime Minister in the absence of the Governor-General, I doubt that it will happen as a new Labor leader won’t mind waiting a few days to shore up the numbers.
On the whole, it wasn’t a great survey for commercial talk radio. In Sydney, while 2GB remains on top of the ratings by four whole percentage points, they did lose ground, losing 0.8 percentage points. 2UE went up by 0.3, mostly on the back of weekend ratings, but lost ground on most weekday shifts and remain a fair way down the ratings pile.
The biggest winner was Triple J which went up 2.7% to 7.4%. The biggest loser was 2DAY FM which went down 1.6% to 8.3%.
Last place belongs to ABC NewsRadio on 2.2%.
In Melbourne, 3AW remains on top but, like 2GB, took a bit of a hit. MTR lost ground in every timeslot, although it is worth noting that some of the survey period took place while MTR were taking extra programming from 2GB, so the next survey will give a better indication of how the local news cutbacks have affected MTR. Interesting, for the first time in a very long time (many years I believe), 3AW’s Neil Mitchell did not win his timeslot. He lost 3.5 percentage points in the morning timeslot, dropping from 15.7% to 12.2%, meaning that the local ABC station’s Jon Faine is now winning mornings on 13.7%.
The leaderboard in Melbourne:
ABC 702: 12.3%
Fox FM: 9.6%
Gold FM: 7.4%
The biggest winner was Nova which went up 1.5% to 8.5%. The biggest loser was shared between Fox FM and Melbourne’s 91.5FM which both went down 1.3%, Fox to 9.6% and 91.5FM to 2.9%.
Last place went to MTR1377 and ABC NewsRadio, both on 1.4%.
In Brisbane, 4BC bucked the trend for commercial talk stations, going up by 0.9 percentage points.
The biggest winner was 97.3 which turned a narrow lead in to a massive one by gaining 2.4% to sit on 14.1%. The biggest loser was Triple M which lost 1.7% to drop from 4th to 5th, drop out of double digits, and sit on 9.4%.
In last place, yet again, ABC NewsRadio on 1.5%.
In Adelaide, FiveAA lost ground but remained in second place. Of particular concern for FiveAA has to be their afternoon drive shift which lost a whopping 6.3% to drop from 1st place to 5th place.
The biggest winner was 96FM which went up by 2.4% to 11.8%. The biggest loser was 6PR which went down by 1.2% to 8.1%.
Last place went to ABC NewsRadio on 1.2%.
The one consistent thing across all of the surveyed cities is that NewsRadio is in last place. How thankful the NewsRadio staff must be that it is not a commercial operation, and doesn’t need to make money, because if it was, heads would roll and changes would be made. For the rest of us, who pay for NewsRadio through our taxes, what a shame it is that we are paying for a service that almost nobody listens to, when in other countries all-news formats have been made commercially viable…even without the advertising, NewsRadio could reach a much larger audience simply by making some changes that have been proven to work elsewhere, but as long as the tax dollars keep rolling in, there is no incentive to do so, as thus, they won’t.
2UE dumps their only weekday ratings winner of 2012
Back to Sydney we go, and 2UE’s perennial game of shuffles is on again. Sport’s Today, which was dumped at the beginning of last year, is back, albeit with two extra hosts. It reclaims its old 6pm-8pm timeslot, bumping Murray Olds and Murray Wilton who have shared the 6pm-9pm timeslot over the last year to mixed success.
The Two Murrays, combined with Mike Jeffreys until midnight (as the publicly available data goes from 7pm-midnight) lost 2%, the station’s largest loss. It seems quite bizarre then that The Two Murrays are being placed in to the weekday afternoon slot, formerly hosted by Michael Smith and recently hosted by Stuart Bocking since Smith’s axing, when Stuart Bocking delivered the station’s largest weekday gain of 0.6%. Even stranger, Stuart has been dropped from the schedule completely. He remains on the payroll though, as is expected to be retained as a fill-in host, but I think it’s safe to say that Stuart deserves better given his recent performance.
Sports Today starts tomorrow. It’s likely that Mike Jeffreys’ night program will start at the earlier time of 8pm. The Two Murrays start in their new timeslot in a week, so Stuart Bocking probably still has the coming week in the timeslot.
Meanwhile it is rumoured that David Oldfield might also succumb to the game of shuffles, to be replaced by a duo of Prue MacSween and Tracey Spicer. David Oldfield has failed to make a dent on rival Ray Hadley’s ratings, and I highly doubt that anyone can make significant inroads there, so I understand the move to an extent.
I don’t have access to demographic breakdowns of Ray Hadley’s ratings, so this is all somewhat informed conjecture based on the callers to Ray’s show, but I have always thought that Ray’s ratings primarily come from a male audience, and an older female audience. 2UE have clearly attempted to attract a younger audience, and I suspect that they have a shot at attracting a decent-sized 30 to 6o-year-old female audience with a duo of Prue MacSween and Tracey Spicer. This is a demographic which, to my ear at least, is dominated by FM music stations and possibly ABC 702, and as such lacks any strong commercial talk presence. Talk radio generally has a more engaged audience due to the nature of the programming, and thus if 2UE can successfully build a reasonably sized female audience in that timeslot, then they could attract a new set of advertisers. Alas, I fail to see how The Two Murrays could retain that type of audience, and think Stuart Bocking would be much better at retaining a female audience, as women seem to absolutely love him.
Why telecommunication monopolies are bad
On Thursday, Telstra suffered a rather nasty outage on their network, apparently caused by an issue between themselves and Dodo, which took down their entire Australian data network for the better part of an hour. This caused issue beyond Telstra as many other internet service providers use Telstra’s network for various bits of their connections, however as other providers also hook in to networks other than Telstra’s network, many were able to route around Telstra and minimise the disruption for their own customers.
Some providers, my ISP Internode included, had almost no disruption as Telstra are not their primary network provider.
It’s a bad thing when a large player has an issue, but imagine what would happen in the case of a monopoly. The monopoly goes down, and this takes everyone down.
Now, aren’t you glad that in the not-too-distant future, everyone is going to be relying on the infrastructure of the National Broadband Network?
Ahh yes, the government-owned NBN Monopoly…is it any wonder that some worry about the possibility of the government having a “kill switch” for the internet once the NBN is in place? Even without a kill switch, the NBN will make us all reliant on a single network, which is precisely what the distributed nature of the internet was designed to prevent. It’s certainly not what I call “progress”.
A review (well, almost) of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
On Friday I went along to Dendy in Civic to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a movie which is set during the cold war years and involves a sacked British spy being asked to investigate the possibility that there is a Russian spy embedded at or near the top of MI6.
The movie is quite dense, and requires a lot of attention. Turn away or lose concentration for a minute, and you will miss vital information. This is a bit of a problem as the movie also makes you think, and there’s not a lot of time between informative bits of the movie in which to think.
It’s a very enjoyable movie, partially because it doesn’t waste time explaining things which are patently obvious, and is therefore aimed at an audience which enjoys working things out for themselves.
Without giving away any detail of the ending, I will say that it leaves you somewhat satisfied, but still wanting more, and also leaves you thinking and putting together some of the dots that the movie doesn’t fully explain.
I enjoyed it, but want to see it again on DVD (yes, I am one of those people who has not upgrade to Blu Ray yet) so that I can pause and rewind the movie occasionally to check things.
The movie is rated MA, but I can’t work out why. “Strong Violence” is the reason according to the consumer advice, but the violence in the movie is really extremely intermittent and no worse than a shooting or two, and a beating. Even with the sex scenes, I see no good reason for this to be rated higher than M.
Four and a half stars from me. I would have given it five stars if the movie had taken just a bit more time to explain the ending. Then again, maybe it did, and I missed those plot points while I was thinking.
Mount Majura in the fog
Finally, a photo to leave you with on a mostly cloudy day in Canberra. It’s not from today, but was a nice sight earlier in the week anyway. Mount Majura, with the airport radar obscured by fog.
The bit which I find interesting is that police also allege that this man was responsible for the attack which brought down Distribute.IT, a wholesale service provider of website hosting, domain names and the like. Distribute.IT was a fairly large player in the Australian market, providing wholesale services to many of the other players in the market.
The attack on Distribute.IT resulted in the total loss of somewhere in the order of 4,000 websites and chaos for the owners of many thousands of domain names, not to mention the retail service providers who had to deal with the fallout from it all. For .au domains, the chaos was slightly more contained as core systems (not run by Distribute.IT) which allow for the domains to be transferred to other providers continued to work, however for non .au domains, such actions were not possible and thousands upon thousands of domains were left in limbo…still operating to the extent of allowing traffic to be directed to appropriate servers, but unable to be managed in any way by their owners, and unable to be renewed if they were due to expire, which some did.
Eventually another provider, NetRegistry, bought Distribute.IT’s assets without any of their liabilities and set about restoring the horribly compromised Distribute.IT systems to some form of functionality before moving customers across to their own systems. While debate rages about whether NetRegistry’s move was the best possible outcome (moves were afoot by authoritative bodies within the industry to dissolve Distribute.IT’s domain registrar accreditation which may have resulted in people being able to move their domains to other providers more easily, but could also have been very messy) and I don’t propose to try and decide which option would have been better, what I can say is that the full functionality of the management side of the affected domains has still not been restored, and that this hacking has resulted in many thousands of hours of lost productivity throughout the Australian internet services industry and in other industries which rely on it, such as businesses with online stores.
I think that this is a much bigger and more interesting story than an intrusion in to the systems of a company which happens to have an agreement with NBN Co. and am somewhat disappointed that it won’t get anywhere near the amount of coverage, although I suppose when it is all added together and you take in to account the fact that the man who police allege is responsible for it all has no formal qualifications in IT whatsoever, it does go to show what many people in the IT industry have been saying for a very long time. Experience trumps qualifications every time.
This makes me wonder if the Civic Exchange (which I am connected to, and have yet to publish photos of), is the only exchange, or one of a very limited number of exchanges, in the ACT to have a direct connection to the rest of the Internode network, and if the rest of the exchanges connect via the “backhaul provider” and the Civic exchange.
This kind of thing, for better or for worse, fascinates me…in much the same way as it would fascinate me to see where my phone line goes within the Civic Exchange.
It’s not the first time that this sort of test has been done, and it probably won’t be the last either, but it’s time to knock the stupid theory on the head once and for all.
ABC TV’s Hungry Beast program have found that a carrier pigeon is able to transport a 700MB file between two rural towns, more quickly than a car or the Internet. Apparently this makes pigeons faster than the Internet, supposedly dispelling Kevin Rudd’s theory that we would be worse off under a Liberal government which he seems to think would replace the Internet with carrier pigeons.
In terms of raw throughput, they may be right. The pigeon took one hour and five minutes, which is an average speed of 179.5 kilobytes per seconds. The car took a bit longer…and here’s where the test falls down on throughput…the Internet connection dropped out a number of times and didn’t finish the download, which says more about the phone line used for the Internet connection than anything else.
As it happens, the test is very wrong on throughput, at least in areas with ADSL 2+. On my home connection, I can regularly get downloads of a bit over 2 megabytes per second (2,000 kilobytes per second), which is more than ten times the speed of a pigeon.
That said, the pigeon test can be debunked even further, as the test only takes in to account raw throughput of large files, and completely ignores the way that the Internet actually works.
Take what happens when you visit the home page of this blog for example. Firstly, your web browser sends a request to the server for the page, then the server sends the raw HTML code of the page back to your browser. Your browser reads this, and generates a new request for the css stylesheets as well as every single unique image on the page (16 at the time of writing) as well as all of the embedded content such as YouTube videos of which there are a few, and the servers responsible for these images and embedded content send the requested data back to your browser. If you then go and watch one of the YouTube videos, the browser has to request that, and YouTube’s servers send the data back to your browser.
On the Internet, this doesn’t take very long. Requests go back and forth in moments, and it’s the larger bits of data (images, videos etc) which take time to download due to bandwidth restrictions.
You try doing that with a set of carrier pigeons. This site is hosted on a server in Melbourne, and I’m in Canberra, so your calculations will vary depending on your location, but let’s assume that the news report is accurate and that pigeons fly at about 130km/h (which sounds dubious to me, but we’ll run with it). Melbourne is about 650km away if you go in a straight line, so it would take a pigeon five hours to travel that distance.
Imagine that. You request my website at 7am on Monday, the pigeon arrives in Melbourne at midday, and returns with the HTML code of the website at 5pm. Your browser then requests the css stylesheet and, say, nine images, because you only have ten pigeons at your disposal…they are a finite resource after all. The pigeons arrive in Melbourne at 10pm, and get the data back to you at 3am Tuesday. You now have the stylesheet, so the formatting looks about right, and you have some of the images, although some of the formatting images are linked from the stylesheet so the site is still a bit odd in many places. Your browser requests the rest of the images and the embedded YouTube players, the pigeons get to Melbourne at 8am, and bring the data back to you at 1pm.
So, the total time required to load just the front page of this website via courier pigeon is 30 hours. This would not get any faster if you had more pigeons either, as you wouldn’t have known about the formatting images until you got the stylesheets back.
Thanks to browser caching of formatting images and stylesheets, you might be able to reduce the loading time of subsequent pages on this website to twenty hours, but that doesn’t really make the site any more useful to you.
And just think…if it takes that long to load a domestic webpage, how long would it take to load a website from overseas? It’s about 15,000 kilometres to the US, which is roughly 23 times the distance from Canberra to Melbourne, so if we multiply the domestic loading time of 30 hours by 23…ye gods! It would take 690 hours (28 days and 18 hours) to load the front page of this website. Yes, that’s right, a month to load one page.
And none of this even takes in to account the extra hours required for DNS lookups before you can even send a request to the appropriate server.
All I can say is thank God the ABC and their pigeons don’t run the Internet!
And with that, I’m back. The whole catching up on sleep and getting my energy back thing has been a limited success, but I am now back to being able to put my thoughts in to writing without having to spend a week working out how to word it, so we’ll call it a success.
I’ve got a lot to get through, and seeing as blog posts with multiple short stories in them seem to be the flavour of the trimester on about half the blogs I read, and it’s convenient in this case, I’ll bite and run such a post here.
Sleep? Hmmm, well it’s 3:32am as I type this and I last finished sleeping at 8am yesterday. You do the math. That said, in the last few nights I have had dreams where I:
1. Was in a repeat episode of Third Watch. Nobody could be bothered attending to the emergencies as they all knew that the people survived the episode, so why bother risking injury doing the stunts again?
2. I plunged to my death in a taxi, on a wet night where the left half of the road had been washed away. A very vivid and disturbing dream.
3. KXNT’s Alan Stock was elected as Chairman of the Nevada Action Committee, although what this actually achieved is beyond me, because the only thing he was required to do as part of this job was take five minutes out of his show each morning to read the KXNT phone number over and over and over and over and over (we’ll come back to this in five minutes when he’s done with the phone number)
Speaking of KXNT, their traffic bed (the music they play under their traffic reports) is one of the bits of music which I managed to get stuck in my head this week. I also managed to get the First Option Mortgage jingle stuck in my head for three excruciating hours, and get it stuck in somebody else’s head simply by mentioning it on Facebook. Apparently it’s called “ear worm”. I also had another song stuck in my head, but I dare not try to remember what it was lest it happen again.
Frasier and Seinfeld repeats at 7:30pm and 8pm weeknights respectively on Go! Channel Nine receive my perpetual thanks for this.
There was some Bollywood movie on SBS Two the other night. I watched ten minutes of it near the beginning during which time the married couple managed to patch up their differences, and the wife declared that she didn’t really care about her husband’s flaws anyway. How they could drag that about the next three hours is beyond me, and I’m glad that I didn’t stick around to find out. The ten minutes was good for a laugh though.
Cisco have calculated (which is probably code for “guessed”) that the average broadband Internet user downloads 11.4 gigabytes per month. I average 20-25GB per month and will probably start doubling that in the not-to-distant future if one of my household projects gets off the ground.
Facebook have decided to preserve the accounts of deceased members, minus status updates and other “sensitive data”. This intrigues me as I have often thought about what would happen to this site and my other online data if I were to cease existing for whatever reason. I would like to keep it all online permanently, but am yet to find a viable solution. The National Library’s PANDORA project archives the essence of this site, but seems to have a lot of broken links and missing data, which is hardly surprising given the sheer size of this site (6.97GB and growing). Preserving this site is a work in progress…I suppose I’ll just have to stick around for long enough to ensure that it happens.
Anyway, if and when I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’m happy for my Facebook account to be preserved as some sort of shrine, but I don’t want anything to be removed from it. How does one go about sharing this wish with Facebook. One’s will?
Speaking of the dead, Yahoo have finally killed off Geocities. I’m glad that I was reminded of this imminent death the other day, as I had one page on there which I needed to save. I’ll republish it on here at some stage.
Monash Drive has been removed the ACT “National Capital Plan”. The proposed road had been slated to run along the foot of Mount Ainslie behind Hackett, Ainslie and Campbell, roughly in-line with the already cleared sections which the high voltage power lines use. Politically, the road was never going to happen, which is a pity because it could have reduced a lot of congestion, especially in the years ahead.
We’ve been following Barack Obama’s approval ratings here for some months now using the figures from Rasmussen, who had the polling figures closest to the outcome of last year’s election. That said, the other polls are interesting as well, especially when you consider that in the Gallup poll, Obama has recorded the worst third quarter of an elected president in recorded history. A nine point drop in his approval rating in the space of three months.
The White House have declared war on FOX News, claiming that they’re not a news organisation. The White House clearly can’t tell the difference between news programming and opinion programming, even when it’s pointed out to them. Funnily enough though, the other networks have defended FOX. Late last week, White House officials tried to ban FOX from a White House Press Pool interview session, but the other networks wouldn’t have a bar of it, quite clearly telling the White House that “if Fox can’t be a part of this, then none of us will interview your chap”. It worked, and the White House backed down, for now.
Here’s the point. FOX out-rate every other cable news network consistently, partially because of their news programming, and partially because of their opinion programming. People want to watch it. The White House don’t like the opinion programming as it is often critical of the Obama administration, unlike others such as MSNBC whose opinion programming often favours the Obama administration. The other networks know that if they let the White House exclude FOX, then they are all trapped in an unwritten “do as we say, or we cut your access” agreement. It is an attack not only on FOX, but on every other network, on freedom of the press, and on freedom of speech.
Glenn Beck, on one of FOX’s opinion shows, put together a rather amusing piece on the War On FOX which had me in hysterics when I first watched it.
One wonders if people would have voted for Obama’s “new era of bi-partisanship” if they had known that “bi-partisan” is defined as “the other side will do as we say, therefore we all agree”.
The ANZ Bank have a new logo, and a TV ad which looks strangely familiar…I’ve seen the whole “life juggled above head, but we can make it easier” ad before, I just can’t remember where. Anyway, the logo, is it just me, or does it look like somebody chucking a tantrum after being kept in line for an hour?
Channel Seven have announced their new digital channel, to be called “7TWO”, on (you guessed it) channel 72. I’m not in the least bit surprised that regional affiliate Prime aren’t putting it to air straight away, I mean Prime own the “6″ channels in digital TV land, and it would look rather silly have 7TWO on channel 62. I suspect that Prime are working on their own branding of the new station…PRIMExtra perhaps?
RIP Don Lane, one of the great entertainers, who passed away at the age of 75.
Remember when the Large Hadron Collider was about to be turned on for the first time and people were afraid the world was going to end? It amazed me how many people who believed that, were subsequently placated when it was turned on, broke down, and the world didn’t end. The whole cause for concern was for when it would finally reach the actual colliding stage, which it never did.
733-KXNT, 733-5968, 733-KXNT, 733-5968 (Alan’s still going…)
Clive Robertson filled in for Tim Webster on 2UE and 2CC’s afternoon show yesterday. What a relief! Tim Webster, as much as like him personally, has bored me to death of late…I can not listen to his show any more, I just can’t. Tim is much better suited to a news-based show than the lifestyle-amalgam show that he is now presenting. Clive, however, suits the format perfectly, and is brilliant afternoon entertainment.
Memo to 2UE for next year’s lineup: Breakfast with Mike Jeffreys, Mornings with Stuart Bocking, Afternoons with Clive Robertson, Drive with John Stanley, Nights with The Two Murrays, Overnights with Jim Ball.
And now at 6:18 it’s time for KXNT’s traffic and weather together on the eights, here’s Tate South (finally, Alan’s morning Chairman task is finished, which means that I can wrap up this blog post).
There was an ad on TV last night for that boat from Victoria to Tasmania and back, in which they advertised the rate for taking your car with you as being an “each way” rate (eg. “x dollars each way”). Sorry, but does that mean it’s the return rate (you can travel each way for this amount) or the one way rate (each way costs x dollars)?
Congratulations to Chris Matlock, KXNT’s Radiostar competition winner for this year. I listened to the entries of the 20 finalists when I was last in Deniliquin, and Chris was my favourite from the start, so I was very pleased to see him win. Chris will have his own show soon, apparently, and will start off co-hosting with Ciara Turns on “Sundays with Ciara” on Sunday, November 8 between 10am and 1pm. That will either be 4am-7am or 5am-8am Monday, November 9 in Canberra, depending on whether daylight saving has ended in the US by then.
And finally, Lord Christopher Monckton spent much of the latter part of last week and the start of this week outlining the issues with the proposed Copenhagen climate change treaty which, don’t forget, is designed to stop a warming which hasn’t happened in about the last decade. The main points:
1. The setting up of a world government, with binding power over all countries.
2. Some peculiar scheme to send all the money from the western countries to the developing countries, to pay for some supposed “climate debt”.
Glenn Beck interviewed his lordship last week, which makes for very interesting and enlightening listening.
But after reading multiple articles on the matter, I am none the wiser as to who falls under FTC jurisdiction.
The story, in case you missed it a few days ago, is that the US Federal Trade Commission has decided that paid reviews by bloggers need to be disclosed as paid reviews, which seems fair enough although I don’t know how it can be enforced…especially seeing as the one time I wrote something which people thought was a paid review, it wasn’t, not that anyone could easily prove it one way or the other.
The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren’t typical.
The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. The guides are not binding law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could result in various sanctions including a lawsuit.
Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products. Previously, companies had just included disclaimers when results were out of the ordinary — such as a large weight loss — noting that the experience was not typical for all customers.
For bloggers, the FTC stopped short of specifying how they must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be “clear and conspicuous,” no matter what form it will take.
For most bloggers, the threat of having to face an expensive lawsuit which they can’t afford to defend would be a big enough threat, and for that reason alone the story grabbed my interest and I wanted to know who this applies to…trouble is, I can’t work it out.
I should be safe as I’m an Australian resident blogging on a server located in Melbourne, owned by an Australian business…but I do have a .com domain name which falls under the jurisdiction of ICANN, who are American. That’s a tenuous link at best. Things become a bit more tricky if I ever decide to move the physical hosting of this site back over to the US, or if I write a paid review whilst in the US.
The point is, there is no clear boundary on the jurisdiction of the FTC, and it seems to me that if a blog has any part of itself in the US, it’s fair game, and the blogger should consider how the FTC’s rules apply to them. Yet another case where the lawyers are the winners.
It could be a subtle way of saying “we’re not going to listen to Universal Music Group’s complaints any more”, but I doubt it. The “spotlight” section on YouTube today is supposed to feature Australian music artists…
The last time I saw a “spotlight” was on Talk Like A Pirate Day. It looks like somebody changed the spotlight title and forgot to change the contents.
Demon Internet has sent out a spreadsheet containing the personal details of thousands of customers with one of its new ebills.
The Excel spreadsheet – which isn’t password protected – contains more than 3,600 records. It includes the full name of the customers, email addresses, telephone numbers and names of the customers’ businesses. Police forces, NHS trusts and government officials are among the email addresses listed in the database.
The file also includes two unidentified fields which adopt the same format as the username and password for the ebilling system that was sent to the PC Pro reader.
Demon Internet is blaming “human error” for the security breach.
Apparently they have since changed the passwords of affected customers…I doubt that they’ll offer to change the phone numbers of people with silent numbers though.
The mind boggles as to what all of this information was doing in a spreadsheet to begin with.
Facebook is starting to drive me nuts. Every six hours something else breaks, whether it be the inbox claiming to have an unread message everywhere except for the inbox page, comments appearing and disappearing at random, mysterious event notifications that just don’t quite seem to be on my plane of existence yet, or the far-too-common “sorry, can’t post what you just wrote, try again later” messages.
Facebook is having problems and they have been going on for a while now…and it’s not just me, I have confirmation of these problems from friends in various corners of the (not round if it has corners) globe. It would be nice of Facebook could provide some sort of explanation…even if it was just “we know, we’re working on it”.
You may be surprised by the amount of data about you, is made available to the applications installed by your friends. This video explains, and also shows how to limit the availability of such information, albeit with the loss of some functionality.
Google are very pleased with themselves at the moment as they recently purchased reCAPTCHA, one of the many organisations behind those squiggly sets of letter and number which attempt to make you prove that you are human and not an evil spamming robot.
CAPTCHAs, in order to work as intended, rely on the fact that computers have a hard time reading the squiggly text, but Google and reCAPTURE seem to want to make it easier for computers to recognise the squiggly text.
Since computers have trouble reading squiggly words like these, CAPTCHAs are designed to allow humans in but prevent malicious programs from scalping tickets or obtain millions of email accounts for spamming. But there’s a twist — the words in many of the CAPTCHAs provided by reCAPTCHA come from scanned archival newspapers and old books. Computers find it hard to recognize these words because the ink and paper have degraded over time, but by typing them in as a CAPTCHA, crowds teach computers to read the scanned text.
In this way, reCAPTCHA’s unique technology improves the process that converts scanned images into plain text, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology also powers large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search.
In this way, reCAPTCHA’s unique technology also improves computers’ ability to read CAPTCHAs, therefore defeating the whole process…although, it could already be defeated. If the letters are coming from ancient scanned newspapers, and reCAPTCHA is relying on you, the human, to teach it what the letters are, does that not therefore mean that reCAPTCHA has no idea what the letters are in the first place, and will let you in regardless of what input you provide?
Presumably reCAPTCHA is providing a combination of characters that it does and does not know in each capture, requiring you to enter the known characters correctly and hopefully the others correctly as well…but this still defeats the purpose of the CAPTCHA, as by teaching the computer how to read the squiggly text, CAPTCHAs would have to grow in complexity over time in order to stay ahead of the reading ability of computers.
And surely it is just a matter of time, if it hasn’t already happened, until malware starts taking note of what you enter for a given CAPTCHA, so that the bad guys have a CAPTCHA based Optical Character Recognition database of their own.
I just had a most unusual fault occur during my mobile phone conversation with a friend.
Mid-conversation, the call cut out, which isn’t all that unusual on its own, however at my end I received the Telstra disconnected signal (the one similar to the engaged signal, but with one tone quieter than the other), followed by the Telstra ringing signal, and then one side of another person’s phone call in which they continued to converse with the other party to their call, but seemed oblivious to my “hello? are you still there?”. It seemed that this mystery person was informing the other party to their call that somebody would be leaving at 6pm.
After about fifteen seconds of hearing one side of their call, the connection dropped completely, with my phone registering the end of the call.
Apparently, the person at the other end of my call did not hear any of this…I suspect that my phone registered the termination of the the call after the other party to my call hung up after hearing nothing for a little while.