Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
Email [hidden]
Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2438 Articles

19 years Ago

Geeks and Spooks

Published on in Technology

Bruce Sterling, a science fiction writer, gave an interesting talk recently about the state of cryptography today. He talks about what we all thought the net would be like today and how it’s ended up where it is. Where did all of that ‘geeks’ will rule the world stuff go? Well, he says:

“So where are these imaginary earthshaking geek outlaws who laugh in derision at mere government? Well, they do exist, and they’re in Redmond. The big time in modern outlaw geekdom is definitely Microsoft. ... [More]”

Dots Per Inch

Published on in Programming

For those who’ve ever struggled to determine what pixels per inch actually means when applied to the real world, the thread DPI: TRUTH OR LIE? at TalkGraphics provides many answers.

The basic gist is that when you store a graphic in Photoshop, it asks for the Pixels per Inch for the graphic. If this graphic will never be printed or does not need to retain its crispness when printed, this number does not matter at all. With an increasing amount of content created exclusively for the web, the... [More]

UseNet Lives

Published on in Technology

The most complete history of UseNet, an enormous news archive has been resurrected and indexed at Google Groups. The announcement mentions the historical aspects of this archive:

<q>We are compiling some especially memorable articles and threads in the timeline below. For example, read Tim Berners-Lee’s announcement of what became the World Wide Web or Linus Torvalds’ post about his “pet project”.</q>

War on Drugs Continues

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In case you thought the U.S. would be too busy fighting the war on terror to continue the war on drugs, think again. The war on drugs was fought all through the war on communism, after all. The Bush administration (U.S.) recently appointed a new drug czar to take on the responsibilities of the war on drugs. The choice of John Walters indicates no end in sight for treating drug use as a moral issue and treating it with punishment. Mother Jones published America’s Lonely Drug War on Dec 14, 2001,... [More]


Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Mo’ Money

ArabNews reports that at the end of November, the US Congress helps itself to hefty raise.

“Congress does have a history of being generous to itself: In 1975, the annual congressional salary was $44,600. In 1990, it was $97,500. As of January 2002, that salary will jump to $157,105. Simply put, their salary has increased 48 percent in the last decade, and increased 13 percent since 1999, according to the Congress Disbursing Office?s Quarterly Report.”

I presume that’s for the bang-up... [More]

21st Century Weapons

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

So Osama is nowhere to be found in the Tora Bora area that the U.S. bombed for a month. Maybe they should just arrest the guy they used in the video (pictures here and here. Careful, the rhetoric is pretty thick on both pages. :-)

The bombing and low-grade ground support seems to be working so well, but there are always other options, other weapons and strategems to bring into play. However, the attack on Afghanistan went so well that there was talk of using the same playbook in a future... [More]

Snowball fight

Published on in Fun

No, this isn’t that lame ASCII snowball you’d wish people would stop sending you in your email. You know, the same people that call you up to apologize for sending you yet another email virus. This is a cool snowball fight game in Flash.

I haven’t gotten past level 3, but my version cheats, I think.


Beware the manger

Published on in Fun

The White House issued another alert today: Terrorists Lurking in Life-sized Manger Tableaus!. The problem lies with the large manger scenes commonly put on by churches in small towns in the U.S.

<q>As you will note, nearly every such nativity display has folks that look just like that terrorist we’re after, that evil un-Christian bin Laden fellow. And if we see somebody who looks like a terrorist, we’re taking the fucker down.</q>

The problem is real and seems to be suppressed in major... [More]

Bizarro World

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The latest issue of AdBusters published What Could Have Been − The Speech that was Never Made. It’s a fake speech that could also have been delivered by our nation in response to the September 11th attack. Common Dreams published A Letter from America, an interview between America and a foreign policy therapist, who responds:

<q>Yes, there are some among your current enemies who can no longer be reached by reason. Yes, there are some who are crazy. But most are not. Most people are not insane.... [More]

Afghanistan was already on the list

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Curious about how quickly the U.S. attacked Afghanistan? Wonder why a non-military solution wasn’t even considered? Apparently, an attack has been contemplated as far back as March 2001 (as reported on Janes in India joins anti-Taliban coalition). In June Indiareacts.com reported that action was already taking place:

<q> … the anti-Taliban move followed a meeting between US Secretary of State Collin Powel and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and later between Powell and Indian foreign... [More]

Forums are searchable

Published on in earthli.com

earthli Forums are now searchable. You can search all forums or just within a particular forum. There’s even fancy keyword highlighting (which carries over to the post as well).

Stop using IE Redux

Published on in Technology

Slashdot is reporting a newly discovered security hole in Internet Explorer in Another Gaping Microsoft Security Hole Goes Unpatched.

Basically, it’s possible to create a link that will cause explorer to issue a download dialog asking whether you want to save the file or open it. The link would claim that the file was a text file or a PDF file, for example, leading you to possibly click to open it. However, once you tell IE to open it, it uses a different set of standards that would notice... [More]

Kids and cars

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

If anyone’s wondering why they can’t find me on Google+ anymore, it’s because recent changes led to my YouTube account no longer functioning as I wanted it to.

Essentially, my situation was like this:

  • I have an ancient YouTube account associated with my only gmail address
  • Until recently, this YouTube account was not associated with Google+
  • A while back, I created a Google+ account for the same gmail address
  • Until recently, this Google+ account was not associated with YouTube

Several months... [More]

Arabic is <em>hard

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Incriminating Video Tape

The New York Newsday reports in Tape Erases Doubt that the U.S. Government has another video which really proves that Osama (Usama) did it.

<q>Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed the tape’s existence, saying it provides clear proof that bin Laden was behind the attacks … Senior Bush administration officials are debating whether to release the 40-minute videotape, which The Washington Post reported was discovered during a search of a private home in Jalalabad,... [More]

Who’s the terrorist?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

While U.S. newspapers report Israel’s renewed “war on terror”, Democracy Now! reports that Switzerland opened an investigation into whether Israel is violating the Geneva conventions.

<q> … The meeting of nations that have signed the 1949 treaties on the conduct of war is expected to conclude that Israel is breaching the accords, and to call on Israel to respect the agreement on the treatment of civilians in occupied territory and allow independent observers to monitor the situation in the... [More]

Rubik’s Speed-Cubing

Published on in Miscellaneous

Lars Petrus, the Swedish national speed-cubing champion, has a nice website on solving the Rubik’s Cube like a pro. There are a lot of Java animations that you can rotate with your mouse and play to show how each step of his method is done. His method involves solving the cube, not layers of the cube:

<q>Most people solve the cube layer by layer. This is a simple way for the human mind to approach the problem, but it is useless for speed cubing. No matter how good you are, you will use more... [More]

<em>All propaganda is wrong

Published on in Miscellaneous

There’s a great site about propaganda with step-by-step examples and small experiments to help you start approaching information with a healthy amount of skepticism. In order to be objective, you should have the same amount of skepticism for, and requirements for proof for all sources, regardless of whether you agree with the information or not. However, simply doubting everything you hear, regardless of facts, is also wrong (not to mention lazy).

I highly recommend this site because it spells... [More]

Segway into the future

Published on in Fun

The Segway motored into America’s heart this week. It’s a people-mover that runs on electricity. Ars Technica has a good summary in IT revealed (IT was a former code name for the device).

Everything Isn’t Under Control published a pretty funny “Diary of the First Segway Owner”. It’s the post from 12:17AM on December 4, 2001 (about 2/3 of the way down the page).

FBI’s Magic Lantern

Published on in Technology

This news is somewhat old, but several people I’ve talked to recently had never heard of it, so I’ve collected the unfolding(ed) story. On November 20, 2001, MSNBC reported that FBI software cracks encryption wall. The title is misleading, since the FBI hasn’t cracked any encryption schemes. The article deals with the ‘Magic Lantern’, which is the FBI’s cutesy name for a computer virus they wrote that installs key-logging software onto a suspect’s computer.

Key-logging software runs in the... [More]

Christmas comes early

Published on in earthli.com

The earthli Christmas theme has arrived. It’s not as ostentatious (or musical) as some have requested, but hopefully it’s ready early enough for those who get into the spirit early. It isn’t the default yet (earthli does not get into the spirit early), but you can choose it from the list.

Theme Screenshots

Published on in earthli.com

earthli Themes now have their own screenshots, making it even easier to choose how you want to browse the web…and, yes, a Christmas theme is coming.

Boonga-Ga Boon-Ga and Bazoombas

Published on in Fun

The Register writes that initial reports of a bizarre Japanese video game are most likely not a hoax. The game is called Boon-Ga Boon-Ga. From the product brochure:

<q>Select from 8 characters to spank. When you spank the character that you chose, the cards will be shuffled. After detecting your power with a sensor, a card will come out. It will explain your sexual behavior.</q>

It has to be seen to be believed.

If you want to know what ‘Boon-Ga Boon-Ga’ means, you’d best ask a construction... [More]


Published on in Fun

How was ‘Black Friday’ for you? Mark Morford takes an amusing look at shopping in Red, White And Banana Republic.

<q>Tis apparently the season that right about this time a decidedly bitter and lugubrious media offers up the murky declaration that Thanksgiving weekend retail sales were not quite the all-out mind-blowing ass-spanking high-fiving wallet- draining Visa-maxing orgiastic bonanza retailers had hoped and man oh man aren’t you the guilty one, oh heartless unspending consumer.</q>
... [More]

Visions of a cloned future

Published on in Fun

With cloning in the news lately, SatireWire warns about an ominous future in Human Embryo Cloned: Can “Chain” Stores, “Subdivisions,” be far behind?

<q>… a world populated by clones would be totally unrecognizable to us — a macabre, doppleganger environment in which the like-minded inhabitants shop at cookie-cutter “chain” stores, apishly watch television shows patterned after the same theme, and even run their computers with the same operating system.</q>

Mark Morford envisions the same... [More]

Flash Toys

Published on in Fun

Have you ever played with one of those soundboards? The kind that lets you hit a bunch of buttons and start to mix sounds together, all layered on top of each other? Well, here’s a special one that uses only Samuel L. Jackson movie quotes. I find it quite cathartic.

The other toy is an animation of a skeleton that lets you control the animation yourself. Not really useful, but it’s an amazing bit of work in Flash.

A corporate Christmas

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Boeing isn’t doing as badly as their massive layoffs (90,000) would lead you to believe. Sure, Lockheed Martin got the HUGE Joint Strike Fighter contract a few weeks ago, but Boeing’s lining up some pretty sweet deals for itself as well, which include:

<q>The plan to lease 100 converted Boeing 767 air refueling aircraft for a period of 10 years has all the hallmarks of an even bigger boondoggle. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the lease plan would cost $22 billion, while... [More]


Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Chomsky gave another (long) talk in India on November 10, 2001 (found at FrontLine − The Hindu). In it, he discusses globalization, Western hegemony, militarization of space, state-supported corporations and other topics he’s discussed before. Some will be familiar, but most of the material is discussed in considerable depth and there is even the spark of occasional emotion (instead of the jaded seeming-complacency that some find so off-putting about him). There’s much focus on the current... [More]

Are you a terrorist?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The Moscow Times published Global Eye — A Thirsty Evil that asks the question everyone should consider:

<q>‘40 to 50 countries’ targeted for possible “U.S. action,” according to America’s securely-located vice president, Dick “Chicken Hawk” Cheney.</q>

They propose a simple test:

<q>Have you ever gone out for a beer and bought a Stella Artois instead of a Bud? Then you, my friend, have engaged in a conspiracy to cause “adverse effects” to the economy of the United States. And that makes... [More]

Photo Albums 2.1 re-opens

Published on in earthli.com

The Photo Albums have re-opened with many new features, including nested albums, comments, enhanced security, an explorer, an updated calendar and better navigation for browsing sets of pictures.

dur’s Quake site converted

Published on in earthli.com

Rewrote the Quake site to use the earthli settings. Much re-organization, but no new content. The original quake style sheet is now available as an earthli color scheme − ‘Quake’.