[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Saturday, 2006-12-09

Why God?! WHY?!?!

Filed under: Technology — bblackmoor @ 10:43

Here’s a really funny vendor rant from TechRepublic.

Thursday, 2006-12-07

Microsoft sails through document standard vote

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 17:53

A vote to make Microsoft Office document formats an international standard was approved on Thursday, according to a Microsoft representative.

At the general assembly of Ecma International in Zurich, Switzerland, Microsoft’s Office Open XML–a set of specifications detailing the document formats in Microsoft’s office — was certified as a standard.

In addition, the membership-based standards organization voted to propose Office Open XML to the larger International Organization for Standardization (known as ISO) for standards approval through its fast-track process, a Microsoft representative confirmed.

The vote to accept Microsoft’s submission as a standard was expected. The ISO standardization process typically takes about nine months, according to experts.

(from ZDNet, Microsoft sails through document standard vote)

The Ecma vote was a rubber stamp. The real hurdle will be ISO. For the sake our digital future, I hope that they vote against recognizing Microsoft’s proprietary format as a standard.

Wednesday, 2006-12-06

Microsoft issues MS Word zero-day attack alert

Filed under: Security,Software — bblackmoor @ 14:03

Microsoft on Dec. 5 warned that an unpatched vulnerability in its Word software program is being used in targeted, zero-day attacks.

A security advisory from the Redmond, Wash., company said the flaw can be exploited if a user simply opens a rigged Word document.


There are no pre-patch workarounds available. Microsoft suggests that users “not open or save Word files,” even from trusted sources.

(from eWeek, Microsoft Issues Word Zero-Day Attack Alert)

Why are you still using MS Office? Does a house have to fall on you? Uninstall it and switch to OpenOffice, you knuckleheads.

How Microsoft subverts the government for profit

Filed under: Society,Technology — bblackmoor @ 11:57

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. Some tech media outlet would send one of its bloodhounds on the trail that was left in the wake of Massachusetts’ decision to standardize on the OpenDocument Format (ODF) for the archival and retrieval of productivity documents (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) to see what lengths Microsoft went to in order to keep that state’s Information Technology Divsion (ITD) from deciding for itself what was best for the state.

[…] Battle lines were drawn and people who probably had no business getting involved in an IT decision about file formats were sucked into the debate and suddenly, ETRM was turned into a political football. Although we in the press were at that time only exposed to anecdotal data that suggested that Microsoft was lobbying hard to turn the decision into a political one, rather than a technical one (where the state’s own CIO had the authority to make the decision — as it should be in any organization), it was pretty clear that vendors on both sides of the debate were digging their heels in in whatever way they could.

But the extent to which Microsoft was working the political knobs and levers wasn’t really known until now, thanks to ComputerWorld’s Carol Sliwa who has published a multi-part investigative report, the heart of which is titled How Microsoft & Massachusetts played hardball over open standards. Wrote Silwa:

Less than a week after he became CIO of Massachusetts last February, Louis Gutierrez sensed a serious threat to his power — one that was being promoted by a seemingly unlikely source. Within a matter of days, Gutierrez confirmed that Brian Burke, Microsoft Corp.’s government affairs director for the Northeast, had been backing an amendment to an economic stimulus bill that would largely strip the Massachusetts Information Technology Division of its decision-making authority…

…The amendment Burke was promoting had the potential to stop the ODF policy dead in its tracks by giving a government task force and the secretary of state’s office approval rights on IT standards and procurement policies…. [Gutierrez] clearly was rankled by Burke’s involvement with the amendment. Yet he made no attempt to shut the door on Microsoft. On the contrary, he did the opposite…. “While Brian will never be welcome in my office, Microsoft, of course, will remain so,” Gutierrez wrote to Alan Yates, a general manager in the company’s information worker product management group, in an e-mail….

The message, sent on March 3, is one of more than 300 e-mails and attached documents obtained by Computerworld under the Massachusetts Public Records Law. The e-mails provide a behind-the-scenes look at some of the hardball tactics used, compromises considered and prickly negotiations that ensued….

[…]Now that ComputerWorld has published this report and other government IT executives can see first hand the extent to which Microsoft might go to strip them of their authority if it doesn’t like the way things are going, perhaps the question for Microsoft is how to convince those execs that it’s a friend and not a foe. Gutierrez seemed especially forgiving when he said Microsoft was welcome in his office, but that Brian Burke was not. How many other government CIOs will now be on their guard every time someone from Microsoft comes a’knocking and of them how many will be equally as forgiving if Microsoft once again demonstrates a willingness to undermine them?

(from ZDNet, How to alienate your government customers 101?)

Personally, that would be enough for me to show a vendor the door. If this had been in a movie, I would have considered it too unrealistic for anything but cyberpunk. Yet here it is, in the real world. I guess I am disappointed. I would like to think that this sort of pernicious, manipulative evil is the realm of James Bond movies and the like. I would like to think that.

How do people like Brian Burke sleep at night? Like babies, probably. Not having a conscience is probably a great relief.

Tuesday, 2006-12-05

Site statistics update

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 22:58

I have updated the site statistics, featuring the IP addresses of idiot hackers from around the world and the search terms that lead people here. Here’s news: Prussian Blue is beating the Fantanas 6 to 1! I would never have predicted that.

Monday, 2006-12-04

Can I pay in virtual gold pieces?

Filed under: Society — bblackmoor @ 21:01

If you are a hard-core player of virtual worlds like World of Warcraft, Second Life, EverQuest or There, IRS form 1099 may someday soon take on a new meaning for you.

That’s because game publishers may well in the not-too-distant future have to send the forms — which individuals receive when earning nonemployee income from companies or institutions — to virtual world players engaging in transactions for valuable items like Ultima Online castles, EverQuest weapons or Second Life currency, even when those players don’t convert the assets into cash.

Most governments are only beginning to become aware of the substantial economic activity in online games, but the games’ rapid growth and the substantial value of the many virtual assets changing hands in them is almost certain to bring them into the popular consciousness.

“Given growth rates of 10 to 15 percent a month, the question is when, not if, Congress and IRS start paying attention to these issues,” said Dan Miller, a senior economist with the Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, who is also a fan of virtual worlds. “So it is incumbent on us to set the terms and the debate so we have a shaped tax policy toward virtual worlds and virtual economies in a favorable way.”

(from IRS taxation of online game virtual assets inevitable | Tech News on ZDNet)

People, it’s time to call, write, AND email your legislators and get them onboard with the FairTax. This whole IRS nonsense just gets worse and worse and it’s long past time we replaced it. The income tax as it currently exists was a quick-fix when the US needed money for war — it’s gotten far more complicated than anyone who initially created it could have ever foreseen. It’s the 21st century, for pete’s sake. Let’s fix this problem now. We can, we should, and it’s only going to cost us more time, money, and energy the longer we put it off.

But in all seriousness, I do not see the IRS taxing your fictional character’s income any time soon. The idea is just too silly. Then again, I thought the same thing about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that became law, so maybe there is no underestimating the intelligence of our well-meaning government employees.

Friday, 2006-12-01

Court says email is protected by 4th Amendment

Filed under: Society — bblackmoor @ 10:59

A landmark court decision found that the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) violated Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure by allowing the government to search and seize email from email service providers.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sent out notice of the decision and of their own filing of a brief supporting the decision. The decision was regarding Warshak vs. United States, filed by Steven Warshak who sought to stop the government from secretly searching and seizing his stored email based on the SCA. The court ruled that government must obtain a search warrant.

The government will appeal the decision…

(from webpronews.com, Court Tells Gov t 4th Amdt Goes For Email Too)

Well, duh. The sad thing is that this even had to go to court. Personally, I think there should be a significant financial penalty for government officials (whether elected, appointed, civil service, or contractor) who violate or attempt to violate the US Constitution. Fines, and possible imprisonment. If people were held personally responsible for their misconduct, they might not feel quite so casual about stomping on their fellow citizens’ rights.

Thursday, 2006-11-30

Street Fighter, the later years

Filed under: Entertainment — bblackmoor @ 01:11

Crecente could barely burble out the origins of this adorable little video between LOLs, but I find it more sad than anything. There is nothing more sniffleworthy than a worn-down Russian bear weeping helplessly in a video arcade.

DHALSIM: Every once in a while I pull out the old SNES, and I beat the shit out of myself. It makes me feel better somehow.

But the clip ends on a positive note, as the two dethroned champions resolve to get it going on once again.

(from Kotaku, Street Fighter, the Later Years)

I think it’s cute.

Wednesday, 2006-11-29

Barney’s legal threats end up extinct

Filed under: Intellectual Property — bblackmoor @ 11:42

Barney’s days as a litigious purple Tyrannosaur that terrorized Web sites daring to poke fun at his sizable girth or singing abilities have become extinct.

Lawyers for the plush children’s icon have agreed to pay $5,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed against them in August by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was defending an anti-Barney Web site called the “Source of All Evil.”

The settlement, announced on Tuesday, caps a five-year campaign by the New York firm of Gibney, Anthony and Flaherty to rid the Internet of unflattering images of its plump saurian client.

(from ZDNet, Barney’s legal threats end up extinct | Tech News on ZDNet)

I would like to see us get to the point when lawsuits like this one are immediately thrown out as frivolous. And $5000 is too little. What’s that, a day or two of one lawyer’s time? For using the legal system to bully law-abiding citizens for years? That’s an outrage.

But let’s hope this is the start of a trend.

Way to go, EFF.

American mafia successfully threatens Russia

Filed under: Intellectual Property — bblackmoor @ 11:35

It appears the Russian government has agreed to shut down popular music site AllofMP3.com in order to appease US objections to it joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

However, the management of the site still insists it is legal.

The summary of negotiations from the US Trade Representative, dated 19 November, names AllofMP3.com as an illegal distributor of music. The letter outlines an agreement between the US and Russia on what it must do in order to join the WTO.

The summary says: “The United States and Russia agreed on the objective of shutting down websites that permit illegal distribution of music and other copyright works. The agreement names the Russia-based website allofmp3.com as an example of such a website.

“Russia will take enforcement actions against the operation of Russia-based websites, and investigate and prosecute companies that illegally distribute copyright works on the internet.”

But Putin’s government might have a fight on its hands.

Mediaservices, the parent company of AllofMP3 and Alltunes, put out two statements again insisting the services are completely legal. An FAQ on the site – available here – claims the service is legal under Russian law.

Another document explains why it is legal for US consumers to buy music from the site. The company also again offered to take down any material which rights holders want removed from the site.

Vadim Mamotin, director general at Mediaservices, said: “If the RIAA had done its homework, it would have discovered that even under US law consumers apparently have a legal basis to purchase music from AllofMP3. There is absolutely no legal basis for the campaign against AllofMP3.”

The US’ letter calls for legislation to stop such sites by 1 June 2007. “Amendments to the law to provide that collecting societies may act on behalf of rights holders that explicitly authorise such action; and provisions needed to implement the World Intellectual Property Organisation Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.”

The US also wants Russia to increase penalties for convicted pirates and to protect information relating to pharmaceutical tests.

The Russian government also promises to take action against CD and DVD pirating companies using military facilities to make their copies. The side letter says: “Ensure that facilities on the territory of government-controlled military-industrial sites are not leased or otherwise made available to companies producing optical media bearing content protected by copyright or related rights.”

The summary of bilateral negotiations is here, the side letter is here, or you can see allofmp3’s FAQ here.

Allofmp3 is very much online at the time of writing. Site monitoring service Pingdom reveals the site has only had 18 minutes of downtime in the last week. More here.

(from The Register, AllofMP3 faces more government action)

It appears that the Digital Rights Mafia and the media robber barons have successfully conned and/or bribed the US government into oppressing foreign countries for profit. I guess RIAA, MPAA, and their ilk looked at the War For Oil and figured what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Scumbags.

I am disappointed in Russia. What happened to the Russia that faced down the richest nation in the world for decades? What happened to the Russia that put missiles off our coast and dared us to blink? Damn, I miss the Cold War. The USSR may have been evil (and they were definitely evil), but at least they had a spine. It’s just sad when one of the great nations like Russia (Russia is a great nation, make no mistake) caves in to bullying from puppets of the Digital Rights Mafia. It’s just depressing.

Not to mention that the Russians made better movie villains. Who do we have for movie villains nowadays? Terrorists? Pfft. Terrorists are pathetic losers. There’s no glory in fighting religious nutjobs who have nothing to lose. It’s as glamorous as spraying for cockroaches. Big corporations and/or organized crime? Please. They’re just common criminals. Call an honest cop and shut them down. The USSR, now, that was a movie enemy you could respect.


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