Wow! There's a big online ruckus going on over a key that can be used to decrypt Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs. Here's a little write-up on BoingBoing: Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Broken - Processing Keys Extracted.
So now, the AACS licensing authority is threatening to sue people left and right, demanding that the key, a 32 digit hex number, be removed from web sites. The result of their actions? Google shows the key is now on about 57,800 web pages. Removing information from the Internet is like removing pee from the pool. It can't be done. It's entropy. Deal with it.
And it's all so stupid. Y'know, I'm perfectly capable of ripping DVDs, and yet, I still buy them if I want them. Folks who want to pirate are going to pirate. All efforts and resources expended by the industry to prevent this only do one thing, raise the prices for their paying customers.
Now folks are selling T-shirts with the key on it. Which reminds me of the time I smuggled munitions out of the United States. No, really. See, back in the day, it was illegal to export strong encryption out of the country. Strong encryption was classified as munitions. Everyone else had it anyway, but it was still illegal. A guy made a T-shirt that displayed strong encryption code as long barcodes, in glow-in-the-dark ink. Being machine-readable, it qualified as a restricted munition. Of course, I bought one.
Later, I was invited up to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to speak about legal issues and technology. I brought the T-shirt with me, to demonstrate some of these issues. It wasn't until I was in the air, flying over the border, that I realized I was technically breaking federal law by bringing the T-shirt.
(I did make sure to keep away from any Canucks with barcode scanners!)
If you're ever in Saskatoon, try the Saskatoon Berry pie. It's really good.
I have no idea what is going on, but various vehicles with sirens blaring have been flying by the house for the past 10 minutes. I haven't kept count, but I'd wager at least six different vehicles, which is far more that the local fire station holds.
We live just around the corner from the station, so sirens are not unusual. But to have that many fly by over such a period of time certainly is.
That reminds me of something. We were watching Cash Cab one night, and the contestants were an older couple. They were very sweet, but not up on science, shall we say. With two strikes, the next question was, and I'm paraphrasing:
What causes the sound of a siren to change in pitch as it moves past you.
And their answer?
The flashing red light.
Poor folks. Out on the street they went. (Pssst, in case you don't know, the answer is the Doppler Effect.)
I just got a tremendous kick out of the answer. It's nowhere near correct, but given that they had no clue, it was a great guess.
I once wrote a little Doppler Effect demo in BASIC, long long ago. It was very instructive. As the speed of the source approaches the propagation speed of the wave, it's very clear how a sonic boom forms.
Awhile back, I wrote about some Clueless Internet Lawyers. In additional to the stuff I mentioned in that post, these assholes also play a nasty trick on folks. They send you a cease and desist letter, but claim copyright on the letter, with the intent of prevent you from telling folks about their actions. See, C&Ds are often used to intimidate people. Often, the only recourse people have is to try and gain some publicity. These assholes try to cut that avenue off. Basically, they're bullying assholes that should be shot dead in the alley. (Not that I advocate actually shooting them. But I wouldn't shed any tears. Yes, I'm cold-hearted.)
Anyway, they found a judge dumb enough to believe them.
Here are some links:
The thing I love about xkcd is that just being a geek is often not enough in order to fully understand the joke. Often times, you need to be of at least two kinds of geekery to "get it." Like today's strip.
(Always remember to hover your mouse over the image for an extra laugh.)
Basically, these folks have, in my personal opinion, a crazy User Agreement that tries to prohibit all sorts of perfectly legal actions. Luckily, this country has something called fair use which says that "the fair use of a copyrighted work ... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." Sweet! Let's take a look shall we?
It actually starts out okay, with some info about how they treat your personal info and the like. But then, near the bottom, it descends into what is, in my personal opinion, crazy talk. It begins with a discussion of their ownership of the site, including both the content and the look and feel. And that's fine. But then they add this:
We also own all of the code, including the HTML code, and all content. As you may know, you can view the HTML code with a standard browser. We do not permit you to view such code since we consider it to be our intellectual property protected by the copyright laws. You are therefore not authorized to do so.
Say what? Are they actually saying that I'm not allowed to do a View Source on their pages? Yes, I think they are. Aside from the utter unenforceability of this, how the hell do they think my browser knows how to render their pages? By reading the source code, duh! There's an implied license with every web page that you can make and read a copy of the page's HTML. It's literally the only way to be able to render a page.
So, what's next? This:
We also do not allow any links to our site without our express permission...
You don't allow any links to your site? Now, this is actually an issue if I build a frame and present their content within it as if it were mine. But not allowed to link at all? A link is just a cite. It's like saying I can't tell you the Dewey Decimal code for a book. It's nonsense.
Okay, let's read on:
The name "Dozier Internet Law, P.C.", and similar derivatives of it, constitute our trademark and servicemark, and should not be used in any manner without our permission.
While there are certainly limitation to what someone can do with another's trademark, not using it "in any manner without our permission" isn't one of them. They seem to actually think I can't even say "Dozier Internet Law, P.C.". Oops! Just said it. Damn! The best part? A quick search of TESS doesn't pull up anything for them. It's not even a registered trademark. (That doesn't mean it's not a valid trademark. But, you would think that a company that anal about it would register the darn thing.)
This is followed by a bunch of threats that boil down to, and I'm paraphrasing here, "we're a bunch of lawyers and we can easily sue your ass."
After the threats, they decide to repeat themselves:
You are not authorized to use our name, or any derivative of it.
So don't you dare say "Dozier Internet Law, P.C.". Oh crap! I did it again!
So, are they totally clueless? Actually, no. They do have a nice page about copyright infringement which actually avoids stupid mistakes like equating infringement with theft, a mistake that many places that should know better have made.
And they do have an impressive list of cases, which suggests they know that their User Agreement is, in my own personal opinion, crazy.
But, overall, do you really want to hire "Internet Lawyers" that either don't have a clue or else purposely engage in claims that I find, in my own personal opinion, to be crazy?
For more about these folks:
The Google folks are supposed to be really smart. Well, they may be smart, but their AdSense sign-up stuff isn't.
So, I go to the Google AdSense sign-up page and try to set up an account for the site. They have this box that asks for the site URL. Then it gives an example, like "www.example.com".
So, here's our first problem. Their example isn't a URL. A URL requires a scheme. Without an "http:" on the front, we really don't know what www.example.com is. We can guess it's a website, but we don't really know. It could be a mail relay. It could be an FTP site. Hell, it could even be Gopher or TELNET. So their example is wrong.
But, being a good techie, I put an actual URL into the box, namely "http://court-o-rama.org/". And Google promptly cuts the "http://" off the front. But it leaves the trailing slash.
And that leads to a rejection by AdSense, saying that the site was down. Now, it is possible that the site actually was down when they checked it. But, there's a narrow one hour window between the time I last checked it and the time they checked it. And, while GoDaddy is a cheap-ass host, it's pretty damn reliable. It's possible the site was down, but not terribly likely.
Today, I went in and removed the trailing slash. And guess what? It worked right away.
So, in short, Google's AdSense sign-up page not only doesn't know what makes up a URL, but it bombs if you put an actual URL into the box that asks for a URL. And that, my friends, is crappy coding.
Chances of Mars getting hammered have just doubled. See, there's this asteroid that's on a possible collision course with the red planet. The asteroid, 2007 WD5, had been given a 1.3% chance of hitting Mars. That probability was recently upped to 3.9%!
Sweet! I just hope John Carter takes cover in time!
Yeah, I added Google ads to the site. I was setting up the ads for court-o-rama and it was easy enough to just make some more.
No, I don't expect anyone to click on them. I certainly don't recommend it. (In fact, their terms of service forbid my doing so.) And, I take no responsibility for where they may lead you.
I stuck them on more for amusement than anything else. Given that this blog is eclectically weird, the ads produced from it should be good for some laughs. I'm looking forward to what sort of sense, if any, Google can make of these posts.
NASA has this cool pair of satellites called Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO). Both share the Earth's orbit, only one precedes us by a bit, while the other trails by the same amount, giving them a 45 degree separation. Both point at the sun. The result? Sweet, sweet 3D pictures and movies!
Need red/blue glasses? Get 'em at American Science & Surplus.
Bonus Link: Astronomers Find First Earth-like Planet in Habitable Zone! (Well, kinda Earth-like. Sorta.)