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Odditorium

July 26, 2004

Elic Thomas has a cute parody MP3 of the OnStar radio ads—Listen to BlondeStar

Of course, if you’re blonde, a recent German study says listening to blonde jokes may actually make you mentally slower…

Slightly safer might be this list from GQ Magazine of the “100 Funniest Jokes of All Time”.  Unfortunately, it appears to be 101, if you count the title…

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Libraries – free, cheap or abused

July 26, 2004

You can find a collection of free technical books online at FreeTechBooks

Telltale Weekly is on a mission to record, produce and sell quality audio recordings of public domain material—at a very reasonable price in order to cover a bit of overhead.  How reasonable?  How’s a quarter strike you?  You can’t buy everything for a quarter, but it’s all still damn cheap, and available in MP3, AAC, or Ogg Vorbis formats.

Meanwhile, the RIAA continues to show no class whatsover in their commitment to donate CDs to public libraries to settle a price fixing lawsuit.  For example Wisconsin libraries are reporting that very few of the 105,000 CDs they’ve received thus far are useful

Unless, of course, you really have a lot of demand in your community for things like 1,235 copies of Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner in 1991.

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Monday Blogcleaning

July 26, 2004

I didn’t get to last week’s pile-o-links yesterday as I planned, so this week we’re having a Monday blogcleaning…

Without further ado, following this is all of last weeks stuff that looked worth pointing out…

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It can’t be that bad…

July 26, 2004

So, do you take all of the hype about how vulnerable an unprotected and unpatched Windows system is with a grain of salt?

For a little taste of adventure, drop by the Internet Storm Center, and watch as they follow the bouncing malware—they install a fresh copy of Windows XP Home, along with the Google Toolbar to shut down popups—and take it out for a spin on the sites found in an “average” Google query. They then procede to break down what all gets loaded as the machine is infested with spyware and trojans within a handful of clicks.

Of course, one is tempted to point out that this is hardly a surprise, as a Windows XP box without service pack one can be infected just by being connected to the net without a firewall—you don’t even have to go anywhere. 

Unfortunately, once a piece of malware gets on board (for example, through some of the still open holes in IE), it only takes it three fairly simple steps to uninstall all service packs, and on the next reboot, the machine is just as vulnerable as the example the ISC tested…

Related: Running Windows Securely

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Official US Update for Toshiba e-800

July 24, 2004

Two months after it was released for everybody else, Toshbia has officially released the Windows Mobile 2003 SE update for US e-800s.

According to posts on Brighthand, it’s apparently the same version released everywhere else back in May, albeit bunded with a couple of updated applications.

Why’d it take two months?  Go figure.

At least this means that if you put this on your e-800 and it happens to blow up later, you can still send it for warranty service—there were reports that if you had the non-US upgrade on your SE, they’d refuse to support it under warranty.  Several people were told that it would damage their PDA.  Apparently this problem got better, even though it’s the same version… lol..

I hope Toshiba ultimately remains in the US PDA market.  At least they’re good for a laugh every now and again…

Related: Dirt Cheap VGA PDA

Related: Windows Mobile 2003 SE Review

Related: Windows Mobile 2003 SE & The Toshiba e-800 – Almost Ready for Primetime

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Still More Free MP3s

July 24, 2004

In case you haven’t had enough free MP3s lately, MP3Blogs is aggregating feeds from other MP3 blogs—read it in your browser, or in your favorite RSS aggregator for the latest posting of MP3s from a lot of other sites.

If they get a lot of participation, this could be the motherlode of free MP3s, particularly from independent artists.  Go get it while it lasts!

Related: More Free MP3s

Related: Tons of free MP3s

Related: Automating Downloads from MP3 Blogs

Monk, Murder Mysteries and Mindfulness

July 24, 2004

The other day, I was reading an article or post from someone who was going on about how television tended to change our view of the world for the worse, increasing our level of fear and loathing about how bad things are, and in general increasing our sense of victimhood, etc.

Now, I’ll grant you that I buy the idea that if you focus on bad stuff (of any variety), you’re going to find more bad stuff.  As Rich Bandler says, “Look for problems, and you WILL find them.”

The specific example that was used was USA Network’s “defective detective” show, Monk.  A couple of recent episodes were cited, one where a couple kidnapped an elderly lady in order to steal a valuable antique chair, and another where a tow-truck driver was shot to hide evidence of another crime in the vehicle being towed.

The point being made was that these aren’t common things, and we shouldn’t be blithely accepting that they are as part of the premise of watching what is really largely a comedy.

I wish I could remember where I saw this—I’d be happy to put up a link.  Even though I now think it completely missed the point…

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Free OS X Style Dock for Windows

July 24, 2004

The other day, I was talking to a good friend and long-time Mac user, who was having to do some stuff on a Windows XP box, and among other things, missed the Application Dock that comes with OS X.

If you’re pining away for an OS X style Dock for Windows, StarDock offers a free copy of ObjectDock, which will go at least a ways towards making OS X users feel more at home.

Of course, StarDock is hoping you’ll also buy some of their customization stuff, which (among other things) can be used to make pretty much the whole Windows interface look like OS X

(of course, it may look like a duck and quack like a duck, but it’s still not a duck)

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Securing Mac OS X

July 23, 2004

Since I’ve written quite a bit lately about running Windows securely, as well as doing strange things to Macs such as installing webservers and scripting languages, it only seems appropriate to talk a little bit about how to secure the Mac environment (particularly if you’re tempted to actually do something like actually serve public web pages with it.)

Fortunately, Stephen de Vries at InfoSec Writers has done a much more comprehensive job of explaining how to secure a Mac than I’d have ever managed—available here, as a free Acrobat PDF file.

Lock them PowerBooks down…

Related: Securing E-Mail on OS X with SSH

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Tin Soldiers and Orrin’s Coming

July 23, 2004

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Hon. Senator Orrin Hatch (R. Utah), is after your fair use rights.  In order to shore up the current copyright insanity, the senate is considering The Induce Act, which among other things wants to ban any technology that has the potential for copyright infringing use.  Yes, as many have pointed out, this means such tools of the devil as computers and photocopiers. 

Things have calmed down a bit, but Sen. Hatch seems to be adamant that “something has to be done” about this problem.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the likely thing to be done will be coming up with revised approach to copyright, as has happened every time this sort of thing has happened in the past (see Larry Lessig’s “Free Culture” for a fascinating and informative overview of the historical context of copyright.)

As always, the copyright holders are in there lobbying with big bucks to try to gain whatever ground they can, and attempt to stuff the toothpaste back in the tube, while (as Neil Young once suggested), we’re finally on our own.

If you want to protect your rights to media, first off you need to inform yourself as to what’s going on (Corante’s Copyfight is a great place to start, as well as where most of these links came from).  Next, if you haven’t done so already, you need to head over to the EFF’s Induce Act Action Center and send a message to your congressthing reminding them that they’re supposed to be up there representing YOUR interests, not that of the MPAA, RIAA, or BSA. 

As long as you’re there, tipping a few bucks in EFF’s funding jar would be a fine thing to do as well.

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