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1 April 2005
On April 1 2005, Encyclopædia Britannica, The Ligatured Encyclopædia, announced its immediate semi-hostile takeover of the Wikimedia Foundation (to be known henceforth as Wikimædia) and all of its projects, including Wikipedia (now Wikipædia), Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, and Wikinews. Founder Jimmy Wales, a suspected cylon, giving a brief statement to the New York Times from his Maui survivalist compound, was reported to be “extremely pleased” with the £633.7 million severance package given to each of the five-and-a-half trustees of the Wikimædia Foundation. Wikipædia is best known as the “encyclop[a]edia” that any old fool can edit.
Despite the board’s confidence, some Britannica investors privately indicated financial concerns about the deal, noting that “the Wikipedia wasn’t really a free encyclopædia after all.” Economy measures expected to be implemented as part of the agreement include an immediate restriction on contributions to Wikipædia and its sister projects to those that have already signed formal agreements with Britannica and an immediate appropriation of all funds donated during the last funding drive to be divided amongst previous contributors to Britannica. It’s expected that to create or edit a page will now cost users £99.97/page in English or American language. Affordable fee localisation will be provided for wikipædias of economically troubled states.
Have I mentioned how much I love April 1st?
Best day of the whole damn year.
4 April 2005
As of yesterday, Plus is now considered full-term. We’ve renamed him “Kicky” in honor of his favorite pastime.
26 days to go!
Will Rice Alumni Beer Bike - even with a bad crash, WRC alumni win again!
13 April 2005
I’ve been keeping a countdown to Merrystar+’s big debut (16 days and counting), even though I know that I’m delusional - the baby will be born when her body thinks it is ready, my clock be damnned.
However, I like my delusion. It says - two more weekends, then on Sunday the baby comes! Clear the schedule! Safe. Easy. Predictable. Orderly. Neat.
I like neat.
But I also know it’s a fantasy, and that the baby will be here any time now.
(Huzzah! I can’t wait to meet him. Merrystar really can’t wait, because then he can kick me for a change.)
Siding’s fixed. Actually, it was fixed about a month and a half ago, but I didn’t think to mention it because…
…well, because it’s siding, frankly, and once it was fixed I moved on to painting the master bedroom. Which was a fiasco. Duron changed their base non-VOC paint, so the colors were different, and I cut in with an old paint can…
Did I mention the vaulted ceiling, too? I really enjoyed cutting that in twice.
Then the closets got painted.
And the trim.
Then the bathroom got recaulked, desk got repainted, etc., etc., etc..
And now it’s time for gardening!
(The to-do list never, ever ends, does it?)
15 April 2005
Mitigating identity theft in this month’s Crypto-gram:
Fraudulent transactions have nothing to do with the legitimate account holders. Criminals impersonate legitimate users to financial institutions. That means that any solution can’t involve the account holders. That leaves only one reasonable answer: financial institutions need to be liable for fraudulent transactions. They need to be liable for sending erroneous information to credit bureaus based on fraudulent transactions.
They can’t claim that the user must keep his password secure or his machine virus free. They can’t require the user to monitor his accounts for fraudulent activity, or his credit reports for fraudulently obtained credit cards. Those aren’t reasonable requirements for most users. The bank must be made responsible, regardless of what the user does.
If you think this won’t work, look at credit cards. Credit card companies are liable for all but the first $50 of fraudulent transactions. They’re not hurting for business; and they’re not drowning in fraud, either. They’ve developed and fielded an array of security technologies designed to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions. They’ve pushed most of the actual costs onto the merchants. And almost no security centers around trying to authenticate the cardholder.
That’s an important lesson. Identity theft solutions focus much too much on authenticating the person. Whether it’s two-factor authentication, ID cards, biometrics, or whatever, there’s a widespread myth that authenticating the person is the way to prevent these crimes. But once you understand that the problem is fraudulent transactions, you quickly realize that authenticating the person isn’t the way to proceed.
Again, think about credit cards. Store clerks barely verify signatures when people use cards. People can use credit cards to buy things by mail, phone, or Internet, where no one verifies the signature or even that you have possession of the card. Even worse, no credit card company mandates secure storage requirements for credit cards. They don’t demand that cardholders secure their wallets in any particular way. Credit card companies simply don’t worry about verifying the cardholder or putting requirements on what he does. They concentrate on verifying the transaction.
18 April 2005
The lesson of Pros and Cons of Firefox Critically Evaluated?
Beware anyone who critically evaluates software with an obvious axe to grind. (I make no claims to critical evaluation on my part.)
19 April 2005
For your next cocktail party: a handy list of popes!
For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.
In the past four days alone, Oxford’s classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.
For the record: I have conceived an intense personal dislike of Iceberg B15A.
25 April 2005
Now on the front page: baby status.
(Baby status is currently PENDING.)
26 April 2005
I want pictures: Yahoo! News - Herd of Buffalo Disrupt Traffic in Md..
Panasonic’s at it again with major overhauls to their Let’s note lineup (what we call the Toughbooks, over here). This round’s got all their laptops rocking Sonoma, 802.11a/b/g WiFi, and integrated SD readers. The R4 is the 10.1-inch XGA screen subnotebook, with a 1.2GHz Pentium M 753; the T4 hits up the thin n’ light tip with a 12-inch XGA display, an enhanced 12-hour battery, and the same 1.2GHz Pentium M 753; the W4 adds a DVD-R/RW drive to the T4--that’s pretty much it; the Y4 is the most feature-rich, with a 14.1-inch SXGA+ screen, 1.5GHz Pentium M 758, DVD burner, and yet it still manages to stay at almost exactly 3.4 pounds. Yow, we won’t even think about how many nines these prices are going to have
Finally automated those pesky front-page baby status updates. Look for those motd (message of the day) entries!
Baby status: ASLEEP and STUBBORN. (Still PENDING.)
28 April 2005
NASA will pay Rice University $11 million over the next four years to develop an experimental power cable made from carbon nanotubes, the agency announced Tuesday.
The cable, also known as a quantum wire, would theoretically conduct electricity up to 10 times better than traditional copper wire and weigh one-sixth as much.
Baby status: Not Yet.
29 April 2005
Lord God Bird! Rare woodpecker discovered in Arkansas:
Wildlife scientists confirmed on Thursday that a bird long thought extinct, the Ivory-billed woodpecker, has been found in Arkansas. The remarkable birds have a 30-inch wingspan and stand nearly 20 inches high.
The birds inhabited a wide swath of American bottomlands and mountain pine forests until the latter part of the 1800’s. They require a large feeding ground, and it is thought the expansion of towns and cities closed off their domain. They went extinct in Cuba during the same period. Ornithologists say each mating pair of Ivory-billed woodpeckers needs three square miles of forest to survive. There were thought to be only 22 of them left in 1938.
There have been several independent sightings of the bird in Arkansas over the last year, and even a videotape. In an effort to support the birds, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Nature Conservancy and other groups have joined to form the Big Woods Conservation Partnership to conserve 200,000 acres of forest habitat and rivers in the area during the next 10 years.
John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology told the Associated Press, “the bird captured on video is clearly an ivory-billed woodpecker. Amazingly, America may have another chance to protect the future of this spectacular bird and the awesome forests in which it lives.”
I really need to try the new version of Gronk.
30 April 2005
Ask, and ye shall receive:
Baby status: NOT AN EARLY BIRD.
SuSE Professional 9.3 is out. Worth a try?
Baby Status: thinking about it.