Archive for January, 2004


More good stuff from OWASP

A couple things recently released by the Open Web Application Security Project:


Scrabble Dictionary online

I just discovered that the official Scrabble dictionary is online. Annoying for its acceptance of words like “ar,” the spelling of the letter ‘R,’ but diehard Scrabble players do seem to like it (snobbish comment: Kiara and I prefer to play with the OED as our dictionary, just because we have it). And for those games that I used to play with two sets of tiles so the board was nearly full, every little two-letter word I can muster came in handy.


Bad news on the Eolas patent

Aw, rats. A federal judge has upheld the decision against Microsoft in the Eolas matter, barring Microsoft from distributing Internet Explorer that infringe on the patent. It’s really looking like the only way this will be resolved in a way that doesn’t frell over the web is if the U.S. Patent and Trade Office accepts examples of prior art and invalidates the patent.


Is the iPod mini really that expensive?

Business 2.0 has a piece comparing the price of the iPod mini not to other iPods, but to its entry-level competitors. Looking at those numbers, its pricing makes sense. Mind, I’d still spend the extra $50. Or better yet, take advantage of the deal on Amazon mentioned at the bottom of the article: 10GB iPod for $236.54.

Sadly, I still don’t listen to enough music to make even that worthwhile.


2004 Elections Project

Something very cool out of the University of Minnesota, the 2004 Elections Project:

The purpose of the 2004 Elections Project is to provide timely, non-partisan information about the 2004 elections. A principal focus of the project will be on the Upper Midwestern states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota…

Okay, so that’s a boring summary. The point is, the project will focus on the issues, in contrast to most of the mass media that instead talk about little more than how candidates are faring in the polls. I’m particularly interested in the policy briefs. (I just wish that they’d more clearly identify what’s a PDF.)

I heard a story on NPR about how more and more young people are relying on entertainment programs like The Daily Show for their news. The reporter was so distraught, concerned that the information was incomplete. I’ll give him that, but neither is your average TV news much better. That’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in the U of MN’s elections project: bored as I am by the endless series of debates amongst Democratic presidental candidates, I’m hoping to find something a bit more engaging. It’s also why I turn to the Daily Show as my primary news source. :-) (That and NPR.)

The annoying thing about the NPR piece was when the reporter gave two examples of important events in the Democratic nomination bullshit process that people surveyed didn’t know about. Thing is, both of them had been covered on the Daily Show, so you can hardly blame the show itself. And face it, there’s very little reason to follow the Democratic debates, or (god forbid) actually watch them. No one says anything meaningful.

But hey, at least they played clips from a hilarious piece about Howard Dean’s alleged temper.

Seriously, though, the campaigning has been dull. That’s why I’m stoked about this new elections project.


FBI can now track your finances without a warrant.

If Patriot Act II couldn’t pass without uproar, why not quietly add its provisions to other legislation where it will pass unnoticed? It seems that’s just what the Bush administration has been up to, and now the FBI has new power to obtain records from financial institutions without warrant. Even better, financial institutions are defined to include not just banks, credit unions, etc., but also “businesses as insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service and even jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships.”. Great.

And here’s the kicker: much as the Patriot Act forbids librarians from saying whether or not library records have been turned over to the FBI, this new law prohibits businesses from revealing to anyone that the government has requested records.

I can understand why most people don’t give a damn whether the government knows what they’re reading. I don’t agree, I think it’s short-sighted, but I understand. With any luck, people will show a bit more concern about their financial records being monitored and their having no way of knowing.