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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