Friday, December 30, 2005

Rockefeller Chapel and the Moon, 2001 July 3rd

The Gibbous Moon rising over Rockefeller Chapel, taken over 4 years ago from Ryerson.
I took this image with an Olympus E-10. It was a humid but nice evening. What can't be seen are the hordes of gnats flying around nor the thunderstorm to the west. I also took an image of the Sears Tower with a tall thunderstorm behind it, with the idea to use the known distance and height of the tower to determine something about the cloud behind it (although you need one more bit of information about the cloud to figure it out).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Posner's failed analysis of domestic spying

Posner writes a defense against the illegal searches of domestic communications:
Posner wrote:
The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.

You can't open up my mail (or e-mail) and look for names, addresses, and phone numbers without violating my privacy. The courts have held that e-mail headers are like pen information on phone calls, but the contents of the message are private. Get that? It doesn't matter what or who in the government opens my private communication, they've opened it and it's a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

You've got to have a warrant, mister, with a good reason, signed by a judge (hopefully not Posner), describing exactly what you are looking for and why you think you have sufficient cause. You can't open up everyone's communications fishing for crimes.

P.S. Richard Posner later writes during a chat:
I don't think most people would mind the government's scrutinizing their conversations for information of potential intelligence value if they trusted the government not to misuse the information.

Uhh... yeah, we mind. This fellow probably shouldn't be a judge based on his poor reading of the Constitution. It's not what "most people" would mind, it's whether these things violate the Constitution. And they do.

ILL update

That loser student lied about the ILL/DHS visit! The liar!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Computer abuse in copy-protection rootkit software

Ed Felten in Freedom to Tinker finally brings up what's been missing in the debate about aggressive copy-protection schemes, namely, that they are violating computer abuse laws left and right, and the companies should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and penalized just as hard as the "computer hackers" are--putting the CEO of Sony, SunnComm/Mediamax, or First4Internet in jail for four years would show 1. Computer abuse, either by individual or corporation, is not tolerated and 2. Corporations, if they argue they deserve rights just like people, should get the punishments delivered to them as well. Computer abuse applies not only to the crazy copy-protection rootkits but to most spyware as well.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Sun as a 2.4 GHz source, redux.

I previously wrote an entry about how you can see the Sun interfering with the weather radar at sunrise and sunset, seen here. The weather radar uses radio waves at about 3 GHz. Seen linked at Hackaday is a 2.4GHZ field strength meter using a microwave diode, a few capacitors and a simple "quad" antenna and measured using a digital multimeter. They report that the Sun generates a reading on their device!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Checking out "Little Red Book" brings visit by government agents

Update Wanker student lied... It's a hoax... South Coast story. To say again.. liar liar liar. I hate liars.

This is unacceptable.

Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

How the DHS is searching Inter-Library Loan requests is unknown, probably through one of the big ILL mediators like OCLC's Illiad.

Academic freedom to read and discuss whatever, to expose yourself to all ideas, including foreign ones, is paramount to a democracy. The DHS is inviting fascism by doing this.

Since I am an employee of an academic library, my employment is dependent on the ability of students and faculty trusting that their choices in what they choose to read is relatively private. We offer the ability to patrons to find out who has a particular book out, but only if they agree to the same reciprocal privileges. It's a tradeoff--I could find out who has checked out a copy of Mao Tse-Tung, but someone else looking for a copy of "Uranium" would know I had it borrowed. But with a secret warrant, the government can know what you have read without any notice to anyone. Unacceptable.

I would encourage anyone concerned about this to obviously complain to your elected officials, but also ask about your local library's policies regarding data retention, and encourage them to clean out the data as appropriate. Is your library's policy written and available to you?

Here is the ALA's Library Bill of Rights.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Amboy Crater Beetle

I am a small fuzzy beetle living in the sands among the lava flows of Amboy Crater!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

live radiation reports from my office

It's completely temporary, and could go down at any time, but the average radiation rate for the last minute in my basement office is available at the link. The long term average for the geiger counter is about 7.6 microrads / hour. If the rate goes up to 30 or so, it's likely I put a small dixie cup of western Michigan beach sand on it (the sand is enriched in monzanite which has a small amount of thorium in it).

UPDATE: Back up and running: