Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My point in political space - Where do I stand

It has come to my mind I should comment on where exactly I stand in the political spectrum. I'm not exactly a liberal, but I am no conservative. Perhaps this will help you locate where I am.

The following are my stands on various issues. I will edit them as needed.

1. Abortion
I detest the idea of an abortion. I wonder why anyone who wouldn't be in mortal danger should they give birth would terminate a living thing. By the way, I believe life begins at the Fetus level. However, I believe that the government has no right to restrict the practice, as it your right to have the pregnancy or not. Aside from that, you will never stop abortions. There's always going to be some doctor somewhere willing to do it. So why not just make it OK? That way, doctors can be trained legitimately, and there will be no need for "Back Alley Abortions."

2. The 1st Amendment.
This'll be a fun one. I totally believe in the 1st amendment. There was a good reason the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech" were put into the Bill of Rights. I fully support the right to express your religion in whatever way you wish, so long as it's non-violent. But, there is an exception. The Government of the United States must be a secular government for the reason that there are people of multitude faiths, and many religions, many people. Therefore, it must show neutrality in order for everyone to feel fair and secure. If the Capitol put a tablet on Government property saying "Satan is lord," christians everywhere would rally in anger, because they feel like the Government is unfairly leaning toward satanism over any other religion. And I would agree.

On Free speech, I advocate any speech that is not libelous/slanderous. I am anti-government censorship. If you have a problem with someting, deal with it yourself. The government is not your babysitter.

3. Gun Control
   I do not like the idea of restraining guns. The 2nd amendment clearly states we have a right to them. However, I feel we should know who has a gun, and what their history is. I don't like the idea of handing out a gun to someone who's been convicted of a felony (Neither does the NRA, I believe) nor someone labeled a danger to themselves and/or others by a judge or doctor, or other reasonable person.

More is on the way.

Opera VS. Firefox, round 1: Free Opera

Opera, a web browser, has decided to make its program full featured and ad-free. Before, you could get the full version of Opera for free, but with ads.

On their website, Opera is vague about why they made the browser ad-free. "Opera's growth, due to tremendous worldwide customer support, has made today's milestone an achievable goal. " Says the site. This may be the case, but I feel there is a bigger reason why Opera made the program ad-free:

They want to compete with Firefox.

Mozilla's Firefox browser is based off of the MoZilla Browser, but without all the frills of the entire system. Currently, it holds the most-widely used browser (With the exception of Internet Explorer, which eats up approxamately 80% of the market.) Naturally, Opera wants some action too, but nobody would use a browser with ads in it. So, the only reasonable thing to do is to make it free.

The last time I used Opera was in 2002. What I recall was a very clunky browser with sometimes confusing configurations. I remember going back to I.E a few months later, and then switching to Mozilla in December. I joined up with Firefox in 2003. Opera will need to fix the clunks in the system, if they have not done so already. I don't think people will enjoy downloading the Opera browser, only to realize they needed the one with JRE support.

This was a good decision on Opera's part. Most people usually don't pay for premium versions of anything, unless software restrictions mandate it. This will get Opera a big piece of the browser E-pie, but whether or not it presents a threat to Firefox remains to be seen.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Post a comment for a noble cause

A Livejournal User by the name of Tony Hellmann has taken a great challenge upon himself.

Hellmann is an up-and-coming author who is about to publish a new book called
Coming out straight, a novel that inquires what it would be like if straight people were the minority, and gays the majority. He is accepting pre-orders.

Hellmann intends to make a donation of one dollar for each person that comments on his livejournal. "I donated $20 to the American Red Cross the day after the levees broke. I didn't feel like it was enough, and I have coworkers that feel bad because they can't afford to send $10." said Hellman in his entry, "I've decided to do something about it, for those that feel bad that money in their wallets is outpaced by the sympathy in their hearts." Hellmann will keep up this offer until Sunday, the 18th.

On his livejournal, he explains how you can help contribute to his cause:
I've decided to send a dollar to the American Red Cross for every person that leaves a comment to this entry by next Sunday. I'll also send two dollars for every literary agent or person with a published novel who leaves a comment, because you folks have fans/large readerships, and fans like to participate with the objects of their attention. To the same effect, I'll donate $10 if your last name is Nielsen-Hayden or Scalzi. :)

John Scalzi, an author of fiction, was the first to post on the journal entry.

In an email, Hellmann informed me that he was astounded at the amount of comments he recieved. "I honestly expected 1000 comments total, not 1000 in the first 12 hours," he said. As of the time of this writing, Hellmann has recieved over 1410 comments in his entry. Excluding writers (as well as Scalzi,) That comes to $1410 in a donation, and this is only the first day. He also further clarified why he is doing such a great act: "This donation makes people who feel helpless (and guilty about it) feel better, because they can say they did *something* to help, even if they are broke."

The inevitable question that arose was "Will he be able to cover the donation?" Hellmann has repeatedly told people not to worry about the money, nor the amount that he may potentially have to donate. He also informed me that he has raised a good deal of money in his lifetime, "..I'm determined to raise the money to make this work..." he said.

So, fellow readers, I ask that you go to Tony's journal and post a comment. Anonymous posting is permitted, so people without LJ accounts will also be able to post comments. If you are affiliated with a corporation, then Click here. I also implore you to spread the word of this, such that this becomes a national phonomenon. Tony, I wish you all the luck in the world in making this work.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Show us your skin and we'll save it: Katrina Survivors forced to show boobs to be saved

Ged Scott, A Liverpool resident, was with his family in New Orleans, and was saved from a flooded Ramada Hotel. However, on the roof of the hotel were several girls who asked for help, to which a rescuer replied, "Show us what you've got!" The girls promptly refused...and were left on the roof on the hotel.
"I could not have a lower opinion of the authorities, from the police officers on the street right up to George Bush," said Scott. ""I couldn't describe how bad the authorities were. Just little things like taking photographs of us, as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own little snapshot albums""
The audacity of those who are sworn to serve and protect is felt throughout the country. People in need of getting to safety refused, just because a perverted cop couldn't get his jollies. And the horror stories are still coming in. There are words of people being raped in the Superdome, racism abounding, and many other evil things.
You would think that something as horrendous as Hurricane Katrina would attempt to unite, rather then separate..no...segregate others. How ironic that today, I write on September 11th, the day when people began to unite for one common cause. Now, four years later, that unity is nowhere to be found. Only corruption and death remain.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

News Corp buys IGN, Another victim goes down

News Corp, the company that owns such wonderful things as 20th Century Fox, as well as just recently, Myspace, has just aquired the gaming network IGN for $650 million Thursday.

News Corp leader Rupert Murdoch said that this aquisition was one of many in order to become a “leading and profitable Internet presence.” This is justified by facts that say that trends are moving advertising to the internet. So it would be a good idea to get a hand on independent web sites.

However, Murdoch is verifying the movie "Outfoxed", a movie on how he is taking over independent journalism by attempting to buy it all up. He was also rumored to have offered $3 Billion to Skype for its purchase. Skype is currently rumored to be talking to Ebay about a purchase. Good luck getting away from Murdoch.

It's obvious that Murdoch is trying to secure a foothold in the Internet by buying everything he can. The problem is, when he buys up everything, improbable or not, where will we turn to for independent entertainment? Certainly not Myspace, that's for sure. And Now, Gamespy, being part of IGN, is a News Corp slave. People need to have different places to be, and having only one person to turn to online makes life complicated, as they could essentially do whatever they pleased, be it price-wise, or player-wise, even person-wise on other websites that could be gotten.

If you are the owner of a decently popular website, or even a popular website, if you appreciate your website at all, never give in to an offer to a conglomerate. Sure, Myspace is fine now, but the operative word is Now, when the word to be worried about is Later....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FIRE FEMA DIRECTOR: Groups call for Brown's firing

Groups of people are now advocating for the Bush Administration to remove Federal Emegency Management Agency Director Michael Brown from his position.
"The failure of FEMA was a failure of leadership," Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md) said Tuesday. "It's time for Michael Brown to leave FEMA, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Let's bring in someone who is a professional at emergency management."

Another senator, Ken Salazar, also wants Bush to fire Brown for his messing up.

And What will President Bush do about this entire situation, other then tell "Brownie" he did "A heck of a job?" Why, Start up an investigation on why FEMA stinks. Uhh, Bush, I think you may want to give Brownie a second opinion. After all, A director always goes down with his Agency...I mean Ship!

Hillary Clinton is calling for a commission similar to the 9/11 Commission, only get this...It'll be called "The Katrina Commission."
Potential X-Filesque TV show names aside, Clinton describes what the commission would do:
"The Katrina Commission would be charged with providing a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of what could and should have been done to avoid the extraordinary damage, the loss of life, the evacuation problems and the inadequate relief efforts,"
In other words, who to blame, and what they could have done better. Personally, I think they'd save a ton more money by paying little kids to point fingers at random people working at FEMA and saying "He/She Did it!" It would essentially do the same thing as the commission.

It's time for Michael Brown to say goodbye. Maybe he can get his job back at the International Arabian Horse Association, which according to the Denver News article cited, he worked at for nine years, but According to World Net Daily, he worked there for 11 years. Who's right? Who cares. The one thing to care about is to get Brown's Butt out of office, and put somoene better into the action. Contrary to Rove's belief, there are very valid reasons for "changing a horse in midstream." "The President must appoint an experienced, professional emergency manager to be the FEMA Director. The FEMA Director must be a non-partisan position that should go only to someone with a long and distinguished career as a professional emergency manager. Said Senator Mikulski. In my opinion, this is the only way to go, without any form of bias whatsoever, and someone who could actually DO HIS/HER JOB RIGHT.

FEMA in need of geography lesson!

The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave only 30 minutes warning to Charleston International Airport in South Carolina that a plane carrying at least 180 evacuees from Katrina's wrath would be landing. Charleston stood at the ready, and the plane landed in Charleston...West Virginia, that is.

"They responded within 30 minutes, which is phenomenal, to meet the needs of the citizens coming in from Louisiana," said Director of Public Health for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Dr. John Simkovich, "Unfortunately, the plane did not come in."

Indeed, the plane landed in Charleston, but West Virginia's Charleston.

What does this say about our government's emergency force? With all the stupidity and mistakes FEMA's already performed, chalking another up only furthers the anger. Maybe FEMA shouldn't be so arrogant about giving aid, as now they are the problem causers, and not the solution. Refugees fron New Orleans and other areas hit badly by Katrina should feel offended at the way the Government is treating them. Heck, A Google search as of 9/7/05 at 10:32 a.m makes it appear that every other news search result on FEMA, at lease the first page, is negative. FEMA is screwed up and everyone knows it...except for FEMA, of course.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

P2P Alternatives for your "non-piracy" enjoyment

With Kazaa set to be in shambles, what's the over 320 million people to do when the network goes belly-up?

Recently, the RIAA sued another fine amount of 754 people, makign the suit count over 14,000 people, According to BetaNews. What that means is that the RIAA is shooting wildly, and it's hitting everyone.

NOTE: I assume that your file-sharing is 100% legal as I write this. ;)

Fortunately, there are ways to move away from the mania. Friend-to-Friend, or F2F systems, are becoming more and more popular with the attacks on the regular P2P networks. One such one is WASTE, a program created by Nullsoft, makers of Winamp. Unfortunately, however, When AOL took over the company, they forced Nullsoft to kill the project, leaving in its place A very interesting warning. However, you can still Google for the program, and a team on Sourceforge.net is working on a program similar to WASTE.
F2Fs are good because they essentially form P2P networks between trusted friends/groups. For WASTE, you use public/private keys similar to PGP. In other words, only people you give your public key to can enter your network. And since WASTE uses encryption, it's quite hard for anyone to break into your network, should they find it.

However, if you still feel the need to use a regular P2P program, but with encryption, I suggest using Filetopia. Filetopia is a P2P program that uses encryption to encrypt what you are downloading, as well as encrypt who you are. Another useful program is Earthstation 5, a P2P network based in Palestine that not only encrypts your IP and your files, but can also split off into an F2F network itself. Unfortunately, the main site for ES5 is long gone, but again, nothing a little googling won't fix.
The RIAA will never stop file-sharers. They will just find better ways to elude the RIAA. Using these programs is your best bet against being another statistic lawsuit for the RIAA. And they are also very cool to play with as well. It takes a little setting up, but it's well worth it in security.

Austrailian court seals Kazaa's doom

A federal court in Australia has ordered Sharman Networks,
creators of Kazaa, to filter out copyrighted material.

According to the article,
The court ordered that Kazaa
must filter out any offending material within a certain time
period, or face its destruction. Judge Murray Wilcox in his
judgement said that he user who makes the file available and
the user who downloads a copy both infringe copyright.

Wait, wouldn't that mean that the USERS of a P2P network
are responsible, and NOT THE P2P itself?

Sadly, not in the eyes of RIAA, and its counterparts across
the globe. I can write a whole blog on why the RIAA and
Company are a bunch of morons who don't care about artists,
and only about their pennies, but that's for another day.

However, this does inform us of the grim news that P2P is
very close to being obliterated. However, all is not lost.
Here are some ways to share your files (Non-copyright, of
course... ;))

A number of people have been setting up what is known as a
Friend-to-friend, or F2F system, which is essentially a P2P
system, only access is only given to those a group trusts. In
other words, it's a private P2P network. Another alternative
is to use a P2P system that uses encryption, such as
Filetopia. Although not as well-known as Kazaa, it does provide a bit
more security.

For even more info, I recommend Steal this File Sharing Book, by Wallace Wang. It contains much more information about P2P in general, as well as other various clients you can play with. One thing is for certain,
however, and that's the fact that you shouldn't even be
playing around Kazaa anyway, be it RIAA, spyware, or the
stupidity of the system when there is much better networks
around.