Privacy Costs Money

It turns out that the unenumerated rights that we have inherent to us as human beings don’t really exist.  If you don’t keep your car in a garage and you don’t live in a gated community, the Ninth Circuit has determined that you have no reasonable expectation that the police will stay off your property to put a covert GPS tracking device on your car.  Sure, it’s your driveway and they’re trespassing if they walk on it, but since the mailman walks on your driveway to deliver mail, it’s okay for the government to walk on your driveway to spy on your vehicular movements.

Amazingly, if you park in a garage or live behind a wall in a gated community, the court thinks you’ve still got some rights.  Is this going to be a selling point for new community developers?  “Live here, the Fourth Amendment still applies.”

Google Continues Domination

One more way that Google is showing its plans for the new Google Chrome OS machines – Google Voice inside Google Mail. Pin that tab and you’ve got a persistent connection to telephones, various instant messengers, and email. This comes out the same day that CrunchGear tells us that Google is working with Acer on the upcoming Chrome OS laptop with an old-school Atom CPU, 8 GB of flash RAM, a webcam and not much else.

Should be interesting, at least.

Still more change

It’s a few weeks old, but I just noticed this story from the Associated Press (permalink via Wired), which sounds like something you’d have expected from the Bush administration:

Political Appointees Vetted FOIA Requests

Seriously, President Obama? This is what you consider change we can believe in? Yes we can?  We can filter FOIA requests through political advisers so they can keep track of the political party asking for the information? We can filter requests to keep track of whether the requester is a journalist?

When this president was just taking office, he said, “For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city.” He cited abuse of the Freedom of Information Act, in particular. And, to be fair, the administration has reduced the backlog of FOIA requests and there is no indication they’ve denied requests inappropriately. But, it’s actually rather obviously unethical to pass requests that are required to be handled expediently through a layer of bureaucracy which is unnecessary to the process.

Yay for Change™.

Ray Bradbury’s Biggest Fan?

For those five science fiction geeks who haven’t seen it yet, may I present the only viral video I’ve heard of devoted to a Golden Age author: Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury. Embedded video after the break, since it is obviously Not Safe For Work (As an aside, this is likely the only time I’ll get to use the category tags of “Literary, Music, Video, and Geek” all on the same post).

Continue reading Ray Bradbury’s Biggest Fan?


Wil Wheaton continues to prove that there are decent human beings that started out as child actors. An 8-year-old girl sent in her Wilpower fan club application back in the 80s, and the “6 to 8 weeks” ended up being much longer. She never got that fan club package, and the fan club folded many years ago. She’s now a professional writer and blogger, and when Wil Wheaton heard about her lack of Wilpower memorabilia, he fixed it. He found a set of fan club swag, and sent her a really funny letter. You should read it.

The Web is Undead

Wow, what a stunningly misleading headline and astounding display of a lack of understanding of internet architecture displayed in this Wired article.  This conflation of the client with the protocol is a very bizarre thing to see in a supposed techie magazine.

Wired claims that the web is dead, because the growth of “apps” (hate that term, it just means “programs” but with one fewer syllables) is showing that people would prefer purpose-built individual small clients to access data, rather than relying on somewhat clunky and standards-averse browser-based web applications. That hardly means the web is dead.  What pool of data do the Wired writers think these apps are accessing?  The Facebook client for the iPhone is connecting to the Facebook web site, using the open APIs that Facebook has made available for just that purpose.

Anderson and Wolff make a distinction that doesn’t seem to make sense, from a computer geek standpoint. It’s not as if the same information is not available via web browser as via the purpose-built mini-programs.  One example they use is the Netflix streaming service on an iPad.  I can get the same or better functionality from any web browser, so how is the web dead?  Another example is RSS feeds.  What protocol do Anderson and Wolff suppose RSS feeds are served through?  Hmmm, looks like HTTP which is serving up these RSS feeds of HTML information to a purpose-built or general-purpose browser equally.

Of course, since Wired predicted that “push” technology was going to kill the browser in 1997, maybe we should assume their prognostication abilities are not all they could be.

I do appreciate that they clarify that the web is not the totality of the internet, something I had the hardest time explaining to people in years past.  Since those days, though, the web has become almost the entirety of the internet traffic, minus email and P2P.  For those who aren’t running bittorrent clients, the distinction between “internet” and “web” is one without meaning today. As for the rise of the apps, I think they may be a stopgap for some things. For example, the app was necessary to get YouTube videos because Apple hates Flash.  If you had an iPhone and wanted to watch YouTube videos, using the Safari browser would make you sad. Now that YouTube is moving toward HTML5 standards-based video, there’s no benefit to the app over accessing the site via a normal browser.  The same has been happening with many other video sites – the conversion from proprietary applications to a rich standards-based web may render this predictive column as quaint as the one which said we’d all be running PointCast by 2000.

We All Scream For…

Newegg had an entry-level ice cream maker for 25 bucks last week (refurb Cuisinart ICE-20), so of course I got one.  My first attempt, a sugar-free chocolate custard-based base with peanut butter cup chunks, was really good (although apparently lacking in chunks). So, I made a few batches this weekend. The Boy and I whipped up a simple vanilla base (eggless), and made two variants.  One, chocolate chips and toffee bits, is very yummy and creamy and must be kept away from me for its own safety. The other, Alex’s choice, involves toffee bits and chopped gummy bears. This may seem like a good idea, but when you freeze gummy bears they lose the gummy.  So, toffee and teeth-chipping bear ice cream.  Yeah, that’s all his.

Finally, to finish up the weekend, another sugar-free custard-based ice cream, with blackberry puree added. Alex tasted it and claimed it had “too much flavor up front” and I tried it both before and after it solidified in the freezer – meh.  Fortunately Kat likes it, so I guess she can be secure in the knowledge that her blackberry ice cream is safe from the menfolk in the house.

Maybe a cheesecake base with strawberries next.  Mmmm…