February 2008

From Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of the most depressing speeches on the state of the media I’ve ever read.

Anonymizing Life

Thursday, February 21, 2008

zebra.pngPrivacy is one of my favorite topics to muse over, and it’s been in the news a fair bit in the last few weeks. So here’s a collection of thoughts poorly organized and randomly selected. For a far more interesting discussion on these topics listen to Bruce Schneier, especially his discussions of Liberty vs. Control as well as Little Kids and Strangers.

Popular Science posted an interesting article regarding privacy and personal information protection. I know, sounds pointless and possibly even too esoteric for anyone to care about but the article is surprisingly well researched, especially for a Popular Science piece. It documents how difficult it is to cover your trail in today’s world, and how simply attempting this often raises suspicion.

Another great article dealing privacy and consumerism examines how Build-a-Bear takes advantage of little kids to harvest private information. I can’t exactly explain why but this particularly disgusts me, and not because of the company but how the parents are just as complacent and unquestioning as their own kids.

A great service I’ve used many times is dodgeit.com, which offers free anonymous email access with RSS syndication. This allows effortless disposable email addresses without (directly) providing identifying information to the provider. But it does have it’s share of problems, primarily one cannot delete messages without registering an account. Therefore any registration emails you receive may potentially contain an account password and be available to anyone who happens to be looking. To secure or control an account you must make a donation through amazon.com or paypal.com, but now you’re giving out even more information, destroying your original intent.

Ideally anyone using dodgeit.com or similar services could access and delete any messages on the system, allowing an individual to control many accounts simultaneously while transparently sharing others. But all of this is moot as the site hasn’t posted a privacy policy and makes no mention of where information goes behind the html brackets, so please be aware of the risks. Assume the administrator is a New York prosecutor.

A much more amusing option for protecting your identity is to wear infrared LEDs. This is a long known trick based on the idea that modern surveillance cameras typically use light from the infrared spectrum. The LEDs broadcast light blinding the cameras while remaining invisible to the human eye. This is explored quite effectively in Cory Doctorow’s short story I, Robot (a re-imagining of Asimov’s world and one of my favorite short stories – highly recommended).

This all interests me because I deal with these issues daily at work, often from many sides. We regularly protect other’s privacy, as well as organizational security as a whole, but also monitor each other through what are known as “invasive policies.” However this is far from typical as my employer places particular emphasis on things like integrity and honor, whatever those are.

Anyway I apologize for posting such slop. Future posts will be better thought out I promise.

From Thursday, February 21, 2008

A thorough analysis of Senator Obama’s and Senator Clinton’s legislative record.

Lions are so cute

From Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Death of a corporate news producer.

Stanford drops tuition for students whose families earn less than $100k and offers free housing if less than $60k.

World Survey: Wealth and Religiosity (graph).

US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs.

From Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A story about a semicolon.

Say Something.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So for the past five days I have simply posted links. This does not bode well for the blog.

What can I say? Life has been boring. The most exciting event this weekend was starting Ocarina of Time: Master Quest on my N64 emulator. And whether you think that last sentence was sarcastic or not depends on how much you enjoy saving princesses.

The game is fun. The only differences between Master Quest and Regular Quest are the dungeons, specifically the puzzles and baddies within them. Harder monsters appear earlier and more frequent, often in ways that you don’t always expect. The puzzles have been made trickier, sometimes in ways where the original solution is now a trap. This creates a very sadistic Pavlov’s dog situation where I now fear my own memory but love the nostalgia. I don’t get it either.

If you want it, email me.

From Monday, February 18, 2008

Women seem to be having problems during sex (warning: graphic), but it might not be their fault. Maybe they should just get over it.

Lindsey Lohan shows us all up as she destroys the image that was Marilyn Monroe (context) (warning: nipples).

I’m sure you’ve heard Kosovo is now independent, but I’m curious what else this means.

How many short stories does American Literature offer? Enough for a Short Story of the Day.

The dangerous side of online dating…

From Saturday, February 16, 2008

Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle – because, you know, he really is that great.

From Friday, February 15, 2008

The Gaurdian learns you can’t control the message on the internets. Oops.

An ad for the Madrid Subway.

NPR interviews Cookie Monster, a surprisingly complex individual with deep emotional insights.

What Color is the Empire State Building – to still your daily ESB-curiosities.