Encryption for suckers
Jun 29th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Call Encryp­tion App Costs More Than Your iPhone. If you real­ly had rea­son to encrypt your phone calls — or were on the pay­roll of the MI6 –  per­haps a $1,600 year­ly sub­scrip­tion to a cell phone call encryp­tion app ser­vice would make sense.


While the app is free to down­load, both the caller and the receiv­er have to join the ser­vice that costs sev­er­al times more than their phones. [Cult of Mac]

Alter­nate­ly, you could buy Ground­wire for $9.99, and then spend anoth­er $24.99 on “ZRTP For Out­go­ing Calls” as an in-app pur­chase if you want to make out­go­ing encrypt­ed calls. Sup­port for incom­ing calls is includ­ed in the basic app, and no year­ly sub­scrip­tion is required. The price dif­fer­ence is so enor­mous that I can’t imag­ine any legit­i­mate rea­son why any­one would pay for the over­priced option. I there­fore must con­clude that it real­ly is intend­ed only for gov­ern­ment employ­ees.

Still not the largest
Jun 25th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Chi­na rul­ing par­ty ‘exceeds 80m’. China’s gov­ern­ing Com­mu­nist Par­ty, the world’s largest polit­i­cal par­ty, says its mem­ber­ship has now passed 80 mil­lion. [BBC News]

Accord­ing to Wikipedia, the Evil Empire’s rul­ing Boot On Your Neck Par­ty had 127 mil­lion mem­bers split between its “Demo­c­rat” and “Repub­li­can” fronts as of 2004. While that num­ber is sev­en years old, I cer­tain­ly haven’t seen any­thing to sug­gest that it’s any small­er today.

Amusing sales pitch
Jun 24th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

While try­ing to get my cable modem speed upgrad­ed, the cable com­pa­ny sales­man tried to pitch me their home phone ser­vice for $30/month. When I point­ed out that I’m cur­rent­ly pay­ing $5/month for Skype, he said that their home phone ser­vice wasn’t VoIP, so it would work when the Inter­net con­nec­tion was out. In oth­er words, I should pay six times as much for their ser­vice because the oth­er ser­vice they’re already pro­vid­ing is so unre­li­able. I guess cable ser­vice sales­man is one job that requires a good sense of humor.

Missing the real story
Jun 21st, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Hack­ers ‘steal entire 2011 cen­sus’ [The Tele­graph]

Most of the arti­cle is a slight­ly con­fused report on whether or not LulzSec actu­al­ly claimed to have got­ten the UK cen­sus data­base. How­ev­er, I think the real sto­ry is this bit here:

The 2011 Cen­sus places the high­est pri­or­i­ty on main­tain­ing the secu­ri­ty of per­son­al data. At this stage we have no evi­dence to sug­gest that any such com­pro­mise has occurred.”

The US defence con­trac­tor Lock­heed Mar­tin, which col­lect­ed the 2011 cen­sus data, was also prepar­ing a state­ment. The com­pul­so­ry nation­al sur­vey was car­ried out in march and gath­ered data includ­ing full names, dates of birth and address­es for every­one in the UK. 

So the oh-so-secure per­son­al data for every­one in the UK was gath­ered by a US defense con­trac­tor? Not just an appendage of the Evil Empire, but a tight­ly inte­grat­ed part of the Impe­r­i­al Mil­i­tary? In what uni­verse is that secure? There’s the evi­dence of your com­pro­mise right there!

Bad news for Skype
Jun 19th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Skype fires sev­er­al man­agers after Microsoft deal clears. Although Microsoft has made Skype a sep­a­rate divi­sion with­in its orga­ni­za­tion and has promised con­tin­ued sup­port for its exist­ing struc­ture, the cuts are unlike­ly to assuage fears that Microsoft may reshape Skype in a way that hurts non-Windows plat­forms or Skype itself. [Elec­tro­n­ista]

They cer­tain­ly aren’t assuag­ing my fears any. I jet­ti­soned my over­priced PSTN ser­vice in favor of Skype six years ago and have gen­er­al­ly been hap­py with it, but even before the Microsoft pur­chase their sup­port for OS X was indif­fer­ent and for iOS down­right bad. I wouldn’t be ter­ri­bly sur­prised to see Skype become Windows-only in the future. Not only that, Microsoft has a his­to­ry of buy­ing per­fect­ly good prod­ucts and wreck­ing them.

A perfect fit
Jun 19th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Appar­ent­ly it’s big news on tech web­sites that the Pres­i­dent is going to start using Twit­ter. My take on it is, “Why did it take him so long?” With its 140 char­ac­ter lim­it, Twit­ter is the per­fect sound-bite deliv­ery sys­tem. It gives politi­cians a way to deliv­er mean­ing­less plat­i­tudes about hope and change direct­ly to the suck­ers vot­ers with­out hav­ing to deal with the inef­fi­cien­cies of going through main­stream media stenog­ra­phers reporters.

Don’t push the red button!
Jun 16th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Red Button

Seen in an application’s pref­er­ences dia­log.

Irrational laws
Jun 15th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

A New Western Theocracy? There seems to be little place for facts in western democracies these days. Sample some news from a major mainstream news source (in the format of your choice), and you’ll doubtless hear of some new law, or a lawmaker making a ‘statement’ of a position that needs to be taken. If you poke a bit deeper, you’ll tend to find that there are usually few facts supporting the position or law – in many cases the facts flat-out oppose the law.


Facts can be challenged, their basis questions, the values disputed. There’s no challenging beliefs, because they are a belief, and their only basis is that someone feels that way. Any fantasy-land belief can be turned into a real-world law, through the application of spin-doctors and lies. When the beliefs lack of realistic basis shows up in its consequences, do we get some humility, a ‘hey I was wrong, let’s fix this’? No. It’s more beliefs. [Falkvinge on Infopolicy]

The ridiculous lightbulb ban I mentioned just a few days ago is an excellent example of this.

Great Dilbert strip
Jun 14th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Com­ic for June 14, 2011.

[Dil­bert Dai­ly Strip]

This reminds me of some meet­ings I’ve had.

Yet another senseless ban
Jun 11th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Postrel: Need a Light Bulb? Uncle Sam Choos­es. in Cal­i­for­nia, where I live, this plen­i­tude no longer includes what most shop­pers want: an inex­pen­sive, plain-vanilla 100-watt incan­des­cent bulb. Sell­ing them is now ille­gal here. The rest of the coun­try has until the end of the year to stock up before a fed­er­al ban kicks in. (I have a stash in stor­age.) Over the next two years, most lower-wattage incan­des­cents will also dis­ap­pear.


The bulb ban makes sense only one of two ways: either as an expres­sion of cul­tur­al sanc­ti­mo­ny, with a lit­tle technophil­ia thrown in for added glam­our, or as a round­about way to trans­fer wealth from the gen­er­al pub­lic to the few busi­ness­es with the know-how to pro­duce the light bulbs con­sumers don’t real­ly want to buy.

Or, of course, as both. [Bloomberg]

Not con­tent with ban­ning cap­i­tal­ism, agri­cul­ture, and chem­istry (aka “the War on Drugs”), the Evil Empire is now ban­ning light bulbs. Of course, this is the same coun­try that pre­vi­ous­ly banned toilets–there’s real­ly noth­ing so minor or sil­ly that the gov­ern­ment won’t threat­en to mur­der peo­ple over it.

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