Boing Boing 

French's Mustard: Eat me! I'm not French!

Mustard-maker goes on the PR offensive amid nationwide fits of wartime anti-France fervor:
"The only thing French about French's Mustard is the name," the company announced. The mustard-maker said it felt obliged to hire a PR company to set the record straight after some media reports suggested it was being -- or should be -- boycotted because of its "French" links. A report on CNN apparently showed one restaurant replacing French's mustard with a Heinz product. "For the record, French's would like to say there is nothing more American than French's Mustard," it said, referring to its New York origins.
Update: one BoingBoing reader tells us of having received this response to an email sent to French's about the "Dude, We're So Not French!" flap:
French's appreciates your comments and is always pleased to hear from their customers. Please take note that French's -- in no way -- meant to be disrespectful or to distance themselves from the French. The press release was only written in response to several media outlets who incorrectly included French's mustard when encouraging their viewers to boycott all things French. This press release was not proactive, but rather, reactive. It is our job to educate and inform the public about French's mustard. French's is proud of their American roots and is next year celebrated their 100th birthday. I should hope that this sheds some light on were French's is coming from, and hope that you will continue to use their products.
Est-ce que vous avez du Grey Poupon? Link to news story, Link to French's Mustard website, Discuss, (via TKblog)

A beautiful collection of ice photography

Link, Discuss

30,000 words nailed on novel #3

Today, I broke the 30,000-word-mark on my new novel, "/usr/bin/god," which I'll likely finish off around Christmas. To celebrate the milestone, I've posted a 2,000-word excerpt from the opening of the book:
Mason's car -- "The Mobile Nerd Command Center" or MNC2 for short -- died the morning of the most disastrous job interview of his life. He practically lived out of the MNC2, charging his device-array -- phone, email pager, GPS, laptop, MP3 player, digital camera, and PDA -- from the DC inverter that dangled from a wad of duct-tape around the cigarette lighter; the back seat was full of dead Mountain Dews and empty coffee-cups from Highway 101's many Starbuckses; and both sun visors bore clip-on CD organizers filled with home-burned MP3 CDs that contained six hundred plus hours of music.

As Mason pulled into the empty Menlo Park parking-lot that morning, the dashboard lit up christmas with a Defcon 5 array of idiot-lights. Six different chimes sounded from the absolutely spectacular sound-system, resonating with jeep-beat bass that made his gut churn. The engine died as he pulled into the spot and the transmission made a horrible, grinding noise as he shifted into park. When he switched off the ignition, the engine made a chuggetta-chuggetta noise that sounded like a cartoon foley effect. Mason had a vision of his car's hood popping open and emitting a geyser of steam, followed by all four tires going flat in unison, but the chuggetas died down and he was sitting in the parking lot, seated at the conn of the former Mobile Nerd Command Center, with twenty minutes to his job interview.

Job interview! He cringed at the words, cringed at the memory of the grueling, humiliating pre-test he'd had to do to even *get* a job-interview, which had included fifteen essay questions on the history of the Internet, the fine points of Microsoft Foundation Classes, and SQL query-syntax. He'd had to define a glossary of no fewer than 30 technical terms, including "PEBKAC" ("Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair"), which had been his freaking *login* for five years on an underpowered Solaris box at his ISP.

Link Discuss

File-compression can detect life

Public-domain compression algorithms are a good, fast way at calculating the complexity and redundancy of some dataset (the more redundancy, the better the data compresses). It turns out that true fossils have really different compression characteristics from rocks that only look like fossils.
Although biological stromatolites and non-biological stromatolite-look-alike structures appear similar to the human eye, the biological origin of stromatolites makes them more ordered, more highly patterned. And it is this patterning that, while hard for the human eye to discern, is readily detected by the compression algorithm. Non-biological stromatolite-like structures are more random, less patterned and therefore less compressible.
Link Discuss (via /.)

CodeCon audio online

The audio of all the talks from last month's CodeCon -- the low cost conference where P2P hackers show off new, running code -- are online! The files are available via BitTorrent, Bram Cohen's swarming download technology that puts less load on the server the more people are downloading it. Link Discuss (via Infoanarchy)

Fiction, interview and review online at Strange Horizons

I'm the Author of the Month at the excellent e-zine, Strange Horizons. They've published a review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, a long interview that Katsi Macdonald (daughter of James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle) conducted with me, and have reprinted my short story, Visit the Sins, which initially appeared in Asimov's and was later reprinted in one of Hartwell's Year's Best anthologies.
Grampa was switched off when Sean found him on the ward, which throbbed with a coleslaw of laser-light and video games and fuck-pix and explosions and car wrecks and fractals and atrocities.

Sean remembered visits before the old man was committed, he and his dutiful father visiting the impeccable apartment in the slate house in Kingston, Ontario. Grampa made tea and conversation, both perfectly executed and without soul. It drove Sean's father bugfuck, and he'd inevitably have a displaced tantrum at Sean in the car on the way home. The first time Grampa had switched on in Sean's presence -- it was when Sean was trying out a prototype of Enemies of Art against his father's own As All Right-Thinking People Know -- it had scared Sean stupid.

Grampa had been in maintenance mode, running through a series of isometric stretching exercises in one corner while Sean and his father had it out. Then, suddenly, Grampa was between them, arguing both sides with machinegun passion and lucidity, running an intellect so furious it appeared to be steam-driven. Sean's tongue died in his mouth. He was made wordless by this vibrant, violent intellect that hid inside Grampa. Grampa and his father had traded extemporaneous barbs until Grampa abruptly switched back off during one of Sean's father's rebuttals, conceding the point in an unconvincing, mechanical tone. Sean's father stalked out of the house and roared out of the driveway then, moving with such speed that if Sean hadn't been right on his heels, he wouldn't have been able to get in the car before his father took off.

Link Discuss

DoCoMo to launch personal GPS phone handset in April

According to this article, Japanese telecom companny NTT DoCoMo has announced that it will launch its first GPS-compatible handset F661i at the end of April.
This is not like the GPS functionality that the US Phone companies introduced so far. In the US the GPS coordinates are only used for emergencies and not yet for actually providing value to the user in other situations. Uers of the F661i can send their current location to other i-mode enabled phones. In addition, a memo function allows users to store location information, including map, telephone numbers and addresses. The phone supports three applications of the GPS functionality:
Link Discuss (via unwired list)

Spraypainted "watertight" motherboard runs underwater

Chuck sez, "I'm not really submitting the whole site. Just the directory of 11 pictures of a motherboard running underwater. According to monoperative: 'the motherboard was spraypainted to make it watertight, which was successful. the future in cooling.'" Link Discuss (Thanks, Chuck!)

Toronto in song

Dave Bidini of the Rheostatics has composed a list of the fifty songs that best capture the spirit of Toronto.
38. "I Hate the Bloody Queen" by The Queen Haters...

30. "Parkette" by Bob Snider: "There was no ball playing and no crayfishing/And they called it a parkette after a politician." In the song, the singer sees Toronto's woodland supplanted by a parcel of sod.

22. "Echo Beach" by Martha and the Muffins: Rush is good, but M&M might be the only Toronto band. They were so biology class, so stereo-shop employee, so Square One, so Sheridan College, so Plantation Bowl, so smooth, suburban asphalt. Cold, zippered, click-tracked. Like a robot snapping its fingers.

7. "OK, Blue Jays" by The Batboys: For the '85 American League Championship Series, the U.S. media were humoured by the politeness of this baseball "fight" song. But "OK" is beautifully us. Lose seven in a row in '87? It's okay. Get drubbed by the Twins in '89? S'okay, too. World Series titles in '92 and '93? No problem with that.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Chris!)

Atwood: America is selling itself out

Margaret Atwood, Canadian literary star and author of "The Handmaid's Tale," wrote a stern open letter to the USA in yesterday's Globe and Mail. The war isn't what's got her upset, though: it's the Bush Administration's exploitation of the war to undermine the civil liberties that define America as the city on the hill, the democratic proving ground to which all other democracies can aspire.
You're gutting the Constitution. Already your home can be entered without your knowledge or permission, you can be snatched away and incarcerated without cause, your mail can be spied on, your private records searched. Why isn't this a recipe for widespread business theft, political intimidation, and fraud? I know you've been told all this is for your own safety and protection, but think about it for a minute. Anyway, when did you get so scared? You didn't used to be easily frightened.

You're running up a record level of debt. Keep spending at this rate and pretty soon you won't be able to afford any big military adventures. Either that or you'll go the way of the USSR: lots of tanks, but no air conditioning. That will make folks very cross. They'll be even crosser when they can't take a shower because your short-sighted bulldozing of environmental protections has dirtied most of the water and dried up the rest. Then things will get hot and dirty indeed.

You're torching the American economy. How soon before the answer to that will be, not to produce anything yourselves, but to grab stuff other people produce, at gunboat-diplomacy prices? Is the world going to consist of a few megarich King Midases, with the rest being serfs, both inside and outside your country? Will the biggest business sector in the United States be the prison system? Let's hope not.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Greg!)

Inadvertent wartime farce: the Phrasealator

Story in today's UK Guardian about the farcical cultural disconnects that result from a language translation gadget known as the Phrasealator (not to be confused with the Shizzolator):
"The object of discussion was an ancient, dust-clogged, diesel-powered water pump which the [Iraqi] farmers wanted to start, with the help of the US marines, who control the roadside area east of the town of Diwaniya where the farmers have their fields. The pump lies under the very guns of the marines, hunkered down in foxholes behind a high sand wall, scanning the landscape for signs of the elusive, intangible, incomprehensible enemy.

Cooper, a major in the military's civil affairs department, didn't have an interpreter, exactly. He had a handheld black plastic device the size of an eggbox called a Phrasealator. Users run a stylus down a series of menus on a screen, pick a phrase in English, touch the line, and the Phrasealator squawks the equivalent in Arabic.

The machine lacks elementary social skills. It only covers a handful of situations, such as crowd control, law and order and emergencies. If you want to tell someone to get out of their car slowly or not to be frightened, it's great. If you have to talk to farmers in rural Iraq about intimate details of their lives, families, crops and horticultural needs, and understand what they say back, it's useless.."

Link, Discuss, (Thanks, John Von!)

Happy Birthday to... Jane Frauenfelder!!!



Congratulations to Mark, Carla, and Sarina Frauenfelder on the birth of Jane Holly Frauenfelder, March 29, 2003! Here's sweet Jane with big sis Sarina! Discuss

Weezer's symbolic value

Great undergrad thesis on the rise, fall and rebirth of the band Weezer, written for a Harvard social studies degree.
Utilizing the institutional framework and terminology Pierre Bourdieu establishes in his "Market of Symbolic Goods," I frame rock music as a middlebrow art that regards itself as possessing certain elements of highbrow "legitimate" art -- namely "symbolic value" beyond a work's value as a market commodity. I then use this institutional framework and aesthetic ideology to investigate the process by which Weezer's reputation changed dramatically over time. Examining data from several sources: an original survey of 150 music writers, an original survey of 20,000 Weezer fans, original interviews with music writers and editors, and an analysis of a sample of 2000 articles and reviews mentioning Weezer, I argue that a strong fan following led to a reconsideration of Weezer's artistic merits by the music press and altered the vocabulary used to discuss the band. I ultimately conclude that a number of parties play a role in deliberating claims of artistic value in rock music: music writers, artists, fans, and the commercial interests that employ writers and artists.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Joe!)

The Forver War: time to read it again

I picked up a copy of Joe Haldeman's classic novel The Forever War last night as a gift for a friend, but I'm going to keep it. I got to re-reading it last night (for the first time in nearly 20 years) and couldn't put it down. Haldeman wrote this novel after returning from his tour of duty in Vietnam, and the book made the rounds, getting turned down by publisher after publisher, by editors who recognized the book's merit but questioned the political savvy of publishing a war-novel. Eventually, Joe rewrote one section of the book, softening it, and finally, the book saw print, becoming an instant classic. The new, author's preferred edition restores the original text, and is absolutely timely and engrossing. Link Discuss

The Mutter Museum in color photos

Last night, I dropped in at Borderlands Books to sign some copies of my novel that people had ordered, and I happened on a giant, beautiful photo-boook about Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.

The Mütter is an historical pathology museum that began with the private collection of the 19th Century pathologist Dr. Isaac Parrish. The 20,000+ artifacts there are life-changingly weird. They have the conjoined liver of Cheng and Eng, the original Siamese Twins; the corpse of the "soap lady," an obese woman whose fat interated with the lye soil in her pauper's grave, turning her into a giant bar of soap; the twisted skeletons of hydro- and micro-cephalic babies and infants; the skulls of hundreds of suicides with crabbed copperplate phrenological annotations, such as "Note sloping forehead, indicates criminal mentality?"

There are the eaten-away skulls of tertiary syphlitics; the 9'-long colon of a man who took one dump a month until he died in his late 20s; dozens of drawers full of items removed from choking peoples' windpipes ("buttons," "coins," "wedding rings," "safety pins (open)," "safety pins (closed)") und zo weiter.

For all the PT Barnumium present, there is an air of curious dignity and solemnity at the Mütter. People whisper and murmur. The glass cases are both revolting and humbling. Their contents stay with you. Days after your visit, part of you is still at the Mütter -- quieted, humbled, repulsed and attracted.

The Mutter doesn't allow photography, and until recently the only photographic records you could take away with you were a few picture postcards and a calendar. But the Mütter Museum book, with its terse captions and beautiful color plates is a far better collection of photos than anything I could have produced. (Inexplicably, these plates are interspersed with whimsical pictures of Weimaraner dogs posed with exhibits from the museum, shot by William Wegman).

I keep opening this big hardcover and paging through it and getting stuck on this page or that, captured by the Mütter. I haven't been back in five years or so, but it feels like the Mütter's inside me again. Link Discuss

L.A. art show: Nathan Cabrera's "Throwing Rocks at Girls"

Offhand, can't remember the last time I stumbled into a seven-foot-tall 3D bear or a life-sized she-Stormtrooper armed with a revolving cannon at an art gallery. But I did last night. If you're in LA between now and April 26, don't miss Nathan Cabrera's debut solo exhibition in LA, "Throwing Rocks at Girls," at sixspace gallery downtown. Cabrera works on childrens' programming at NBC and Discovery Kids by day, and art that has been described as "Toy Story Gone Psycho" by night. The show features several compelling, life-scale sculptural works, but the centerpiece of the collection is a tryptich of iris prints. Each depicts a quirky/deadly/kick-your-ass-and-laugh-about-it cartoony girl character, with a shooting target diagram superimposed via etched glass frame. Sixspace gallery is selling an affordably-priced set of high-quality digital prints from Cabrera -- can't remember the details, but was something like $50 for a collection of 60 giclee prints three 8" x 10" digital prints, signed and numbered in an edition of 50, for $60. Killer stuff.
Link to gallery website, Link to print set purchase details, Discuss

Savory Japanese ice-creams

Back when I was mainlining carbs, I was always down for a cup of lotus-bean-paste ice-cream after sushi. Not too sweet, very creamy. But Japanese ice-cream goes way beyond just slightly sweet flavors. This gallery of eel, chicken-wing, tongue, squid and fish ice-creams from Japan gives me the willies. Link Discuss (via Die Puny Humans)

Judging a book by its cover

The Readerville book-cover reviews judge books by their cover. Genre writers spend a lot of time talking about covers, but it's never this highbrow -- it more frequently runs to, "Why the hell is there a badly-proportioned busty space-mercenary in an unzipped jumpsuit firing a laser on the cover of my damned book?"
There are a lot of obvious traps a designer could fall into designing a cover for John Szwed's So What: The Life of Miles Davis, but designer Massand Peploe avoids them all -- no faux retro jazz-cover styling, no hepcat winking design tricks. The simplicity of the concept could scarcely be improved upon. In reality, it's a little, um, jazzier than this scan reflects. The whole thing's glossy black and silver, like a darkened nightclub with a single spotlit musician. And what appears to be just a simple photo of one end of a trumpet actually wraps all the way around the spine to the back to reveal Miles himself on the other end. Simple, modern, low-key (but witty -- the lines get smaller and smaller, like notes fading away) typography underscores the final verdict on this one: it doesn't blow.
Link Discuss (via Kottke)

Warren Ellis's alternate Tesla

Warren Ellis takes a break from scripting his new comic to rant about the alternate history posisbilities of Nicola Tesla.
You know Tesla patented something very like a solar panel in 1901? Do you even care?

I do, because it's going to make my spaceships fly. Tesla's solar panels, Tesla's wireless broadcast power, and the Biefeld-Brown Effect, an electrogravitational phenomenon that causes powered flight. (Tesla himself had also dicked around with electromagnetic field lift, to no great consequence. But if he'd gotten proper funding for broadcast power, things could have been different. He may have been a figure of greater stature in his later years, making Townsend Brown consider contact him. A success in broadcast power would make Tesla a more vital figure in his later years, to be certain.)

(I mean, can you imagine this? America, between the wars, was not the US of today. It did not recognise itself as a "superpower". That's one of the things that prevented a quick save of the Great Depression; America did not attempt to shape the international economic environment solely through its own actions, acting as the hegemony. It had retreated to its old policy of isolationism, as handed down by George Washington in his Farewell Address: "avoid entangling alliances". But imagine an America between the wars whose streets were lit, from coast to coast, by wirelessly broadcast power, and revolutionary ways of generating electricity. Imagine something as mad as signalling a way out of the Depression as sending men into space to photograph the world.)

Link Discuss

Moore's new movie: Farenheit 911

Michael Moore's new movie, called "Farenheit 911: The Temperature at Which Freedom Burns," will trace the economic ties between Bush administration officials and bin Laden, and chronicle the erosion of Consitutional freedoms in America in the wake of the 9-11 attack.
According to Moore, the former president had a business relationship with Osama bin Laden's father, Mohammed bin Laden, a Saudi construction magnate who left $300 million to Osama bin Laden. It has been widely reported that bin Laden used the inheritance to finance global terrorism.

Moore said the bin Laden family was heavily invested in the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm that the filmmaker said frequently buys failing defense companies and then sells them at a profit. Former President Bush has reportedly served as a senior adviser with the firm.

"The senior Bush kept his ties with the bin Laden family up until two months after Sept. 11," said Moore.

Link Discuss

Facts don't violate trademarks

Remember the Taxes.com suit? The site had factual information that criticized one of its competitors, information that was valuable enough that it generated lots of inbound links, which gave it tons of googlejuice, so when you searched for "J.K. Harris" (the competitor's trademarked business name) you got taxes.com in the first results page.

So J.K. Harris sued taxes.com for violating its trademarks, and what's worse, they won -- the initial court held that factual information that contains trademarks was in violation of trademark law.

Luckily, human discourse was saved yesterday when the court changed its mind and ruled that facts don't violate trademarks. EFF filed an amicus brief on Taxes.com's behalf, and the court's findings drew heavily from the arguments we raised.

"The court's decision to reverse an earlier ruling on Taxes.com restores the balance between trademark law and the First Amendment right to publish truthful information," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann...

In its revised ruling, the court embraced EFF's arguments, holding that using a competitor's name in the course of conveying truthful information does not violate trademark law. The ruling pointed out that: "While the evidence submitted to the Court demonstrates that Defendants' web site does contain frequent references to J.K. Harris, these references are not gratuitous; rather, Defendants' web site refers to J.K. Harris by name in order to make statements about it."

Link Discuss

If Imagineers opened a furniture store

Straight Line Design makes incredible custom furniture that has very few straight lines indeed. If I were a squillionaire, I'd have these guys build half the furniture in my palatial estate, and get Roger Wood to build the other half. Link Discuss (Thanks, Grad!)

KPMG makes hysterical, self-serving wardriving report

The clueless fucks at KPMG UK have decided to drum up a little security-hysteria consultancy biz by doing a "study" on open WiFi.

They created some open wireless nodes, and then logged what people who connected to these nets did. Sooprise, sooprise, most of them logged in and did nothing bad and then logged out, but 3.8/day apparently ran network probes, which KPMG characterized as an "attack."

Of course, KPMG also believes that linking to its site is an attack, too. Among the surprising risks identified by KPMG's crack squad of security consultants (available for $300/hour and up, no doubt) was that having more people on your network might reduce the bandwidth available to you. H0ly crap$0r! They are fsking 1337!

They also trot out the idea that open nets are "often" denoted with warchalking marks (something that is true only if "often" means "almost never, except as a kind of hipster joke or a marketing stunt").

The "attackers" they logged "attacked" at the same time every day, which suggests that this might have been the same person walking past on the way home from work and trying out the net. Link Discuss (via WiFi News!)

Martian flu page scares my pants off

The CBC's roundup page for SARS, the Martian Flu, is impressively terrifying.
* Main Symptoms: High fever (>38° Celsius);
* Dry cough;
* Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties;
* Changes in chest X-rays indicative of pneumonia also occur; SARS may be associated with other symptoms, including headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash and diarrhea.
Link Discuss

SMS-psyops: CIA using cellphone spam in war on Iraq

G1V3 UP! W3 0WN J00! Okay, that's probably not *exactly* what the SMS spam allegedly issued by the CIA this to military leaders throughout the mideast said, but that was more or less the point. According to this story by Jack Kelley in USA Today, and this one a day later by Farhad Manjoo in Slate, the CIA has been bombarding Iraqi generals and other officials with mobile phone text-messages, e-mail, and voicemail encouraging them to abandon their support for Saddam Hussein in exchange for -- well, not being killed by the United States. An SMS offer they can't refuse. Like those CENTCOM leaflets dropped by the millions on Iraq, only in ASCII. From the Slate story:
Jack Kelley, a reporter for USA Today, wrote on Monday of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdul Qassab, who is apparently the object of intense wooing from the U.S. Every day for the past few months, the general has received an anonymous phone call telling him to "give yourself up. You cannot win. You will be saved if you defect."

Reuters has also reported the text of e-mails being sent to Iraqis asking them not to use weapons of mass destruction. One read as follows: "If you provide information on weapons of mass destruction or you take steps to hamper their use we will do what is necessary to protect you and protect your families. Failing to do that will lead to grave personal consequences."

Kelley reports that the campaign has been largely unsuccessful so far. If SMS spam isn't a violation of the Geneva convention, I don't know what is. Discuss

Newsweek's Steven Levy on warblogging + big media (and, kevinsites.net)

Steven Levy tackles a much-blogged subject of late -- blogs, war, and conventional media -- with fresh insight in a Newsweek story today. He also coins a handy new term: embloggers. If you find this of interest, you may also want to check out this blog that Anil Dash recently built to document press coverage of the recently-suspended-by-CNN kevinsites.net. The items in that press clip archive are tracked because they reference Sites' blog, but they all explore broader issues of blogs as a tranformative force in modern media, as does Steven Levy's story below.
The role of professional reporters is another matter. One blogger, freelancer Chris Allbritton, used his site to solicit $10,000 from readers to fund a trip to blog from the northern front. (He's just arrived in Turkey and will be in-country soon.) The BBC has a blog, and a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter has been using a blog to describe her stay on the USS Abraham Lincoln. But when CNN reporter Kevin Sites' bosses found out he’d been blogging his experiences on an unaffiliated site, they told him to stop.

CNN's response was seen in the Blogosphere as one more sign that the media dinosaurs are determined to stamp out this subversive new form of reporting. But judging from the television and print reports from journalists embedded in military units, there’s another way to look at things. Consider the reports from embedded journalists working for media institutions. They're ad hoc, using quick-and-dirty high-tech tools to pinpoint the reality of a single moment. They are shaped by the personal experience of the creator rather than gathering news from after-the-fact interviewing and document collection. They are delivered in the first person, creating a connection with the viewer that sometimes bulldozes over the deeper realties of the events

In other words, they're a hell of a lot like blogs. Not the heavily linked Weblogs like The Agonist or Instapundit but the personal accounts of Salam--or the thousands of bloggers who use the technology to keep a running diary of their activities for a small circle of friends--or anyone who cares to listen in.

Instead of documenting a trip to the video store and a random encounter with an old girlfriend, these "Embloggers" describe firefights at Umm Qasr and MRE cuisine. So while the war in Iraq might only be beginning, the pundits of the Blogosphere can already register a victory. It’s a blogger's world. We only link to it.

Link to Newsweek story, Link to press clips blog, Discuss

Kelly Link interview on the WELL

Kelly Link, the brilliant short-story author (her collection, "Stranger Things Happen," is absolutely required reading -- I even got a spare copy to loan to co-workers), is being interviewed by her talented husband, Gavin Grant, on the WELL's public conference. Link Discuss

Shirky: Why 3G is doomed

Clay Shirky's posted a great analysis about the inevitable failure of 3G (Going, Going, Gone) in the face of WiFi.
The reason the nearlynet strategy is so effective is that coverage over cost is often an exponential curve -- as the coverage you want rises, the cost rises far faster. It's easier to connect homes and offices than roads and streets, easier to connect cities than suburbs, suburbs than rural areas, and so forth. Thus permanet as a technological condition is tough to get to, since it involves biting off a whole problem at once. Permanet as a personal condition, however, is a different story. From the user's point of view, a kind of permanet exists when they can get to the internet whenever they like.

For many people in the laptop tribe, permanet is almost a reality now, with home and office wired, and any hotel or conference they attend Wifi- or ethernet-enabled, at speeds that far outstrip 3G. And since these are the people who reliably adopt new technology first, their ability to send a spreadsheet or receive a web page faster and at no incremental cost erodes the early use the 3G operators imagined building their data services on.

Link Discuss

Massive security haemmorhage at eBay?

I just got the following email from eBay:
From: "eBay, Sven" >sven@ebay.com<
Date: Fri Mar 28, 2003 5:34:29 PM US/Pacific
To: >doctorow@craphound.com<
Subject: Urgent message from eBay SafeHarbor

Hello,

In an ongoing effort to protect the security of your eBay account, eBay has reset your password and secret question. You will need to go to the eBay site to create a new password before you can bid on or list an item. Additionally, you should have received an automated email confirming this password reset...

3. If your old eBay password was also the password for any other online account you use (Paypal, Billpoint, etc.), we recommend that you immediately change those passwords as well. Good password security means that each one of your online accounts has a different password. Even a slight difference (one letter or number) offers substantial additional protection.

1. Be wary of emails appearing to be from eBay, providing links to sign in, as these are often attempts to collect your password information. Ensure the website you are directed to is in fact one that belongs to eBay. Please note this email does not provide a link, but asks that you go directly eBay. Always make sure that you're on an eBay page before giving out your eBay password or credit card information. The best way to be sure of this is to type www.ebay.com into your web address window of your browser...

Regards,

Sven
eBay SafeHarbor

The headers (possibly forged, of course) suggest that this email orginated with eBay. I received another message right afterward, which informed me that my password and password hint had been reset from 209.63.28.12, an IP address in ELI.NET's allocation block (Vancouver, WA, 360-816-3000). No one at ELI.NET is answering the phone. No one at eBay is answering the phone.

Meanwhile, the original email, from "Sven," who apparently has no surname, suggests that there has been some kind of serious security failure there, the details of which eBay is choosing not to disclose, forcing a mass password change instead.

This, frankly, is steaming bullshit. If eBay has had a security breach that leaked my password and password hint (and possibly my other identifying info, like my credit-card number, SSN, billing address, etc), it has an ethical obligation to disclose the date and extent of the breach to me. I trusted eBay with my personal info, and if they failed to adequately secure it, then I need to know how great the risk is, and for how long the risk has persisted.

Cryptic, clueless-train messages like Sven No-name's are a poor, poor substitute for adequate notification. Discuss

The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists

What the name says, folks.
"The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) is a club for scientists who have, or believe they have, luxuriant flowing hair. The project was first announced in mini-AIR 2001-02. The initial list [was] assembled by a subcommittee comprised of seven members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science..."
Historical Honorary Members include Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Newton. Link Discuss