Monday, January 27, 2003

More Junkmail from Bob!

Important Stuff


In the last Junkmail I mentioned that Senator Russ was going to propose a law to stop funding for the Total Information Awareness program. That's the program where the government maintains a giant database on everybody's purchasing, travel, medical, and other information. I didn't think Russ's funding block would pass. I thought it was just a publicity stunt. I was wrong. It turns out that several senators got on the bandwagon, and they stopped funding for the Total Information Awareness for a while.,1283,57386,00.html

Economically Speaking

G. Dubbya Bush is giving the State of the Union address tomorrow. He's going to be on TV promoting a war with Iraq. Rumors are that he's also going to discuss his economic stimulus package:

  1. Constantly threaten war.

  2. Reassure people by posting armed military in security checkpoints around the country, conducting covert surveillance on U.S. citizens, and promoting smallpox vaccinations and anti-radiation pills.

  3. Increase federal spending to convert the budget surplus into a huge budget deficit, and cut income taxes to further increase the budget deficit.

  4. Create an internal security force 177,000 strong and call it "Homeland Security."

The stock market has reacted accordingly.

In fairness, the Homeland Security Department didn't hire 177,000 new people. They moved a lot of them in from other places like the Coast Guard and Customs Service.

I think Bush's economic policy was portrayed very accurately when he gave a speech on "Strengthening America's Economy" in St. Louis. He was standing behind a stack of boxes that were labeled "Made in U.S.A." However, the boxes were made in China, and the "Made in China" labels were covered up with pieces of paper. Really!

I kind of like Thomas Jefferson's approach to the State of the Union message -- he wrote a letter.


There's a new computer virus in the news, the Slammer virus. It's spread really fast. It doesn't affect most people, though, because it only infects computers running SQL Server 2000 and MSDE 2000.

Earlier today I called Microsoft support to get a product key. Their recording said they were backed up because of all the calls they were getting about the Slammer virus.

GOP Team Leader

I was just reading an article...

...about It's a web site that makes it easy for you to email letters to the editor of lots of newspapers. It's designed for Republican support, but anybody can use it to send anything. The default letter starts out with "When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership."

I tried it out. You can edit it, as I did. I put those four points above on Bush's economic stimulus package in my letter, and away it went.

This system really works. More than 50 newspapers have printed letters to the editor with the phrase "When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership," including the Financial Times, Boston Globe, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I just did a google search for the phrase and got 109 hits. I think that's funny!

When I signed up for gopteamleader, I used the email address It's a dummy address I use so I don't have to read their junk mail. They sent a verification email to that address, and I had forgotten the password to So I got onto the edibob server here at my house to straighten things out. Then I noticed it was acting funny. I had the slammer virus!

I hadn't been worried about Slammer because I don't have any computers that run SQL server. But Windows Server 2003 apparently comes with it builtin, a surprise for me. My server had been sitting here spewing out viruses for who knows how long! At least it was easy to fix.

An Effective Bureaucrat?

I heard someone on National Public Radio the other day talking about rating the effectiveness of Bush's cabinet and cabinet-level officials. (I didn't realize there was a difference.) There were several criteria used for the ratings. One that was a little suspect was the "access to the President." That means if you talk to the President a lot, you're effective at your job. I don't see the connection.

Then one really got my attention -- the amount of budget increase the person was able to obtain. That's backwards! You're effective if you do more with LESS money. Unfortunately, in Washington, empire building seems to be more important than getting the job done. Just look at the Homeland Security Department. They've barely started work and they're already over budget and behind on delivery. I guess that makes Governor Tom a highly effective person.

Have you ever noticed when one of these upper-level government people really messes up, the answer is inevitably "I thought we did very well considering our limited resources." Incidentally, 177,000 employees are not "limited resources" in my opinion.

Ink Wars

You can buy a new inkjet printer in Walmart for $49 or $69. But every time you need an ink cartridge for it, it will cost you another $30 or so. Printer companies make more profit on an ink cartridge than on the printer itself sometimes.

What about competition in the ink cartridge market? There are some companies that make ink cartridges for Lexmark printers besides Lexmark. Lexmark used to poo-poo and ignore these "3rd-party" suppliers, but it started a lot of money. So Lexmark (and Lexmark and other printer makers) put chips into their ink cartridges that identified them to the printer as Lexmark ink, and the printers would refuse to work with any non- Lexmark ink.

Since there is a lot of profit in ink cartridges, the 3rd-party suppliers made their own chips that behaved like the HP chips. Now they're back in the ball game.

If this story sounds vaguely familiar, maybe it's because it's very similar to ATT and IBM before they lost big antitrust lawsuits. ATT was forced to work with non-ATT phones and equipment, and their company was broken up in the process. IBM was forced to "unbundle" their computer systems and work with compatible peripherals.

But that was before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. What Lexmark and the printer companies are doing used to be illegal. Now the 3rd-party ink companies are violating the law. Yep, according to the DCMA, you cannot reverse-engineer a printer cartridge and make a compatible one. It's a wonderful law. The ironic thing is that Lexmark is an offspring of IBM.,1283,57268,00.html

Can you imagine?  "Sorry, I can't make it tomorrow. I was arrested for pirating ink cartridges." That's right -- the DMCA makes it a criminal offense.

In other Digital Millennium Copyright Act news, last week a judge ordered Verizon turn over the name and personal information of an internet customer to the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA said they suspected this customer of copying some music.

That's all it takes -- you only have to suspect someone in order to go after them. You don't have to be connected with the police, or have proof, or probably cause, or a preponderance of evidence, or any of those other legal keywords I don't understand. You only have to allege.,1412,57360,00.html

By coincidence, the RIAA web site has been shut down since Friday, most likely because of a denial-of-service attack.

I just now tried to get onto, but nobody answered.

Speaking of denial-of-service attacks, one was launched against Dalnet and may have killed it. Dalnet has been off the air for two or three weeks now. Dalnet is one of the biggest IRC chat networks. You can try it IRC chats with MIRC software:

Details on Dalnet:,1377,57392,00.html

TV Programming

I've said before that TV shows try to tell you how to behave. They coin new phrases and imply moral standards, but I thought this was more accidental than deliberate. Then I read about Viacom and their Aids campaign.

I don't watch many of these shows, but I was really surprised that Viacom is coming out with episodes in 10 different entertainment TV shows with HIV and Aids themes. Even Star Trek????

"A number of entertainment shows with HIV/AIDS themes were produced and/or will be distributed by Viacom companies. Upcoming episodes include: Becker (produced by Paramount TV/airs Feb. 2 on CBS), in which Becker educates a 15-year-old patient about the risk of HIV/STDs; The District (Universal Television in association with CBS Productions/airs Jan. 11 on CBS), Temple and Debreno are faced with a moral dilemma when they discover a suspected drug dealer steals drugs to help his sister deal with AIDS, and then (Jan. 18), Mannion and Ella work to complete an AIDS rally as a legacy for a good friend who is dying of AIDS; Enterprise (produced by Paramount TV/airs Feb. 5 on UPN), explores the stigma related to an AIDS-like virus; Girlfriends (Paramount TV/airs Jan. 6 on UPN), Lynn is inspired to make a documentary about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Then Toni's (Jan. 7) beau asks her to get tested for HIV. In later episodes, Toni discovers that a friend from her past is HIV-positive; Half & Half (CBS Productions/airs Feb. 3 on UPN), Mona and Dee Dee admonish Spencer for having unprotected sex with an old college friend and convince him to get an HIV test; One on One (Paramount TV/airs Feb. 10 on UPN), Flex's new girlfriend insists he get an HIV test; Presidio Med (Lydia Woodward Productions and John Wells Productions in association with Warner Bros. Productions/airs Jan. 24 on CBS), Dr. Lanning attempts an illegal and unorthodox new procedure to help a healthy patient become pregnant by her HIV-infected husband while reducing her risk of infection; and Queer as Folk (Cowlip Productions, Tony Jonas Productions and Temple Street Productions/Showtime), several episodes about the impact of HIV/AIDS on friends and family."

And they are publicizing this. This may be a good cause, but what happens when they decide to start a campaign for a war, or against a war, or something that I oppose? Actually, I'd probably miss it. But it seems like its cheating to put your own political message in an entertainment TV show. I'm surprised to see it's this organized, and I'm surprised to see Viacom publicize it.

FBI on Campus

The FBI is coming to a college near you!

KaZaA Kriminals

I can see why the RIAA is going after individual music downloaders. Kazaa is hard to find! The corporation is on a Pacific island, the software in Estonia, and the system is distributed so that any of thousands of "supernodes" can keep things running even if everything else is shut down.

Kazaa is pretty big. I just fired it up, and it says there are 4,094,304 users online with 814,187,100 files to choose from.

You can go to jail for 3 years and be fined $250,000 for sharing music, according to the 1997 No Electronic Theft act.

New Opera

You should be able to get a new version of the Opera browser tomorrow. Their last version is pretty good, but there are a few web sites it won't display properly.

Computer Chess

Garry Kasparov beat a computer at chess Sunday. Tomorrow he has another game. He was playing the world computer champion Deep Junior, an Israeli-programmed computer. Kasparov is getting $500,000 for playing and another $300,000 if he wins the 6-game match.

In 1997 Kasparov lost to IBM's Deep Blue. Deep Blue was a lot faster, evaluating 200 million moves per second compared to Deep Junior's 3 million, but Deep Junior is supposed to have a lot better software.

You can watch it live here:

Pictures of Today!

Some lines in the desert, near Las Vegas.


The some rocks in the desert, near Barstow, California:

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     Img_9679.jpg    Img_9680.jpg

     Img_9681.jpg    Img_9682.jpg

Joshua trees, I think:


(?) 2003, no rites preserved. Any unauthorized duplication or mastication of this fine piece of junk will be promptly and vigorously ignored to the fullest extent allowed by U.S. law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which are considered by some to be mutually exclusive.

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