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Name Marco Von Ballmoos
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Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco
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The (only) developer at earthli.com.

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2438 Articles
99 Comments

19 years Ago

Neal Stephenson Quote

Published on in Quotes

If you don’t like having choices made for you, you should start making your own. − Neal Stephenson

earthli Settings stored indefinitely

Published on in earthli.com

earthli Settings (color, font, size) are now stored indefinitely (fixed a bug that stored them only for a day). So now when you make a change, it will stick.

USA Bill passes Senate 96-1

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

WiredNews reports that the USA (Uniting and Strengthening America) or “Terror” Bill has passed the Senate. Presumably it will not have more trouble passing Congress. Included measures granted to policing organizations are:

<q>…allow[s] police to perform “roving wiretaps” and listen in on any telephone that a subject of an investigation might use. … expands police’s ability to access any type of stored or “tangible” information…such as medical or educational data … [provides] that... [More]

Missiles Away

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

If you caught President Bush’s press conference last night, you might have been amazed to discover that not only is the notion of a Missile Defense Shield still alive, apparently his faith in its abilities are strengthened. An article from Discover Magazine called Shield of Dreams (only available in print for now, should be on the website in a month or so), provides a “A critical look at the science and technology required to build an antiballistic system that would make the United States... [More]

Texas Tea

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Alternet has an article on Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has two huge problems. One is crippling poverty and brutal winters in the mid-nineties that killed much of the population through malnutrition. The other is that:

<q>Geologists estimate that sitting beneath the wind-blown steppes of Kazakhstan are 50 billion barrels of oil — by far the biggest untapped reserves in the world. (Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil producer, is believed to have about 30 billion barrels remaining.)</q>... [More]

Chomsky interview on MSNBC

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Noam Chomsky was interviewed (again) on MSNBC on October 2, 2001. ZMag has the transcript. He touches on the failure of the U.S. propaganda system abroad (despite its resounding success on Americans):

<q>…the reason is that they can see with their own eyes what the facts are. When you produce false propaganda to people who can see that it’s false, it does not succeed. Just the way that we never believed Soviet propaganda. It was so obviously ridiculous that you just laughed at it.</q>

Also... [More]

Rumor-squashing service announcement

Published on in Technology

There are a lot of rumors floating around. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI tell us that they use high-encryption programs, so the government needs access to all of those. Others claim that they are using steganography (information embedded in images) and are communicating through web porn. Phil Zimmermann, the inventor of PGP (an encryption package) was quoted by the Washington Post as expressing “regret” for inventing PGP.

All not true. Most of it deliberately misinterpreted to... [More]

Write reviews for Amazon

Published on in Fun

If you’re ever bored, just head on over to Amazon.com and write up some reviews of books. These folks did. You don’t even have to read the book. You don’t even have to describe what’s actually in the book. Anything goes.

The book being reviewed (though perhaps, lampooned is a better word. Reviled is an even better one.) is <u>I had a Frightmare!</u> by Bil Keane, writer of the insipid Family Circus comic strip. Scroll down to the Customer Reviews and enjoy.

War Satire

Published on in Miscellaneous

Does this post belong in Current Events? Or Humor? Depends on your point of view and/or sense of humor, I suppose. I’ll put it in News. Michael Moore has a new rant on AlterNet called All I Am Saying Is Give War A Chance. If you need background music while you read it, try similar satire from Bob Geldof, from the Vegetarians of Love (released in 1990), called The Great Song of Indifference. Lastly, the Onion urges us to let our “Freedoms [be] Curtailed in Defense of Liberty”.

Athlon 1.4GHz == P4 2.0 GHz

Published on in Technology

There’s a lot of people who just look at the speed of a chip; even people who should know better. Higher equals faster. If I’ve got an Athlon 1.4GHz, then how much faster could I be going with a P4 2.0 GHz. I mean, 2.0 GHz! Intel broke the 2 GHz barrier! Wow!

Settle down.

Here’s some good benchmarks from HardOCP showing that the Athlon 1.4 chip is faster in some tests and slower in some tests (about 50/50) on this page, but only by small margins either way. Statistically, they’re... [More]

Cookie location changed

Published on in earthli.com

The ‘Settings’ are stored elsewhere now. If you use Mozilla or Netscape 6.x, you have to clear the old earthli cookie. Oh, and you can show replies in the forums pages now.

…Let Slip the Dogs of War

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The U.S. started bombing Afghanistan yesterday. Seems we’re bombing someone new every couple of years or so. How surgical are the attacks? This is the same military that had to cheat on other ‘surgical strike’ tests…and still failed them. The same military that claimed surgical attacks in the Gulf War…and admitted later they lied and had killed about 200,000 people, many of them civilians. What kind of military installations are being targeted? I thought most places in Afghanistan didn’t... [More]

RIAA Wants CPRM2, tougher DMCA

Published on in Technology

In an acronym-filled room in Washington, filled with CEOs from TW-AOL, IBM, EMI, MPAA and a host of others that use real names, the large media companies of the U.S. started in again on their battle against file-sharing. The Register has a quick article with some of the minutes from the meeting. What are they doing? Bringing back CPRM (a copyright-protection mechanism built into storage media) is on the list, for sound-cards now as well as hard drives.

<q>we are working with sound card... [More]

Here comes Big Brother

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

There’s an excellent article on the NY Times Magazine site called A Cautionary Tale for a New Age of Surveillance. Note that it requires a NY Times account to view now. Sorry.

One company that seemed to be doing well in the wake of the attack on the WTC is Visionics. The CEO of Visionics voiced an understandable concern:

<q>How can we be alerted when someone is entering the subway? How can we be sure when someone is entering Madison Square Garden? How can we protect monuments? We need to... [More]

Boondocks comic strip censored

Published on in Miscellaneous

The Boondocks is a popular comic strip created by Aaron McGruder that is available in the New York Newsday (and syndicated in over 200 other newspapers). When reading it this week, I got an overwhelming feeling of deja vu. The comics were repeated from a year ago. It seemed strange since there was no note saying that the ‘author is on vacation’ as is usual in these cases.

Checking the online version of the comic strip revealed that there are comics for this week, but the Newsday isn’t running... [More]

Announcements automated

Published on in earthli.com

earthli News recreated as the Announcements forum.

U.S Space Command (Noam Chomsky Redux)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

ZMag has another radio interview with Noam Chomsky by John Campbell. It discusses the 1992 Pentagon draft of the <u>Defense Planning Guide</u> (excerpts of which were published in the NY Times of March 8, 1992 and which I am hard-pressed to find any trace of myself):

<q>The US must hold global power and a monopoly of force. It will then protect the new order while allowing others to pursue their legitimate interests as Washington defines them. The US must account sufficiently for the interests... [More]

Subscriptions for forums

Published on in earthli.com

New subscription service available for earthli Forums. Get the latest posts emailed to you.

Swissair succumbs

Published on in Miscellaneous

Swissair has been in trouble for a while now, but on September 30, they went into intense discussions with the Swiss government in attempt to deal with impending bankruptcy brought on by the worldwide passenger slump following the WTC attack. However, the final solution will involve Switzerland’s major banks, notably UBS and Credit Suisse:

<q>‘We think that it wouldn’t be right for the government to participate in a solution, and we don’t think that it would be necessary,‘ UBS Chairman Marcel... [More]

U.S chooses new U.N. Ambassador

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

John Negroponte got a September 14th approval from the Senate to be the new U.S ambassador to the United Nations. Unfortunately, he may not last long if the call to “root out all terrorists” is to be carried out in full. This article in the Newsday discusses his history, particularly his involvement in Honduras in the early ‘80s.

<q>There, he was paymaster for an unsavory covert army known as the Contras, who, under the tutelage of the United States, waged a dirty little war against the... [More]

Offer aid to increase national security

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In the Newsday today, another pair of authors try to point out that all of this “tough talk” from the U.S. is not helping our actual national security.

<q>…what we really mean by “national security.” Do we choose the meaning it has had for 56 years − essentially domination and protection of the U.S. right to have its finger in every pie? Or do we mean the physical safety of the American people in their own country?</q>

What if we tried to change the basic feeling towards America in those... [More]

Did the U.S. sow what it reaped?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The Economist argues in an opinion piece that regardless of the many ways in which the U.S. may have angered other countries, factions, religions and peoples, nothing it did could possibly explain an attack of such viciousness.

<q>America defends its interests, sometimes skilfully, sometimes clumsily, just as other countries do. Since power, like nature, abhors a vacuum, it steps into places where disorder reigns. On the whole, it should do so more, not less, often. Of all the great powers in... [More]

U.S. Finally Shares Evidence

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

CNN reports that the U.S. has shared its evidence of links to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden to the September 11 attack.

<q>A senior Bush administration source said the United States provided phone records and bank records involving al Qaeda members. This source said the records also spelled out a bin Laden link between the September 11 attacks and last year’s attack on the USS Cole at the port of Aden, Yemen, as well as the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.</q>

Upon reviewing... [More]

Chomsky and ZMag reactions

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

This interview with Noam Chomsky on ZMag is a question and answer session from September 19, 2001. It covers a range of topics involving terrorism, imperialism and, of course, the attack on September 11.

<q>… we should recognize that in much of the world the US is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that the US was condemned by the World Court for “unlawful use of force” (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security... [More]

SeanBaby and OMM are back

Published on in Fun

Seanbaby returns from more than a month off with a 3-page discussion of homosexuality (and a little bit of Kevin Smith) and, as usual, ends up taking some potshots at everybody. Again, as usual, there’s some really good stuff here.

<q>People who cry about stereotypes are usually upset because they fall into them. We don’t have time to get to know every single person we see. We have to stereotype people in certain ways to know which one of them wants to kill us for our wallet, which ones can’t... [More]

Is it really just right and wrong?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

On the same day that the mayor of New York addressed the UN, Stuart Diamond writes in the Newsday:

“Here is how much of the world sees us: We consume 35 percent of the world’s resources with 5 percent of the people. Our AIDS victims get excellent medicines; theirs don’t. “Globalization” means our multinationals crowd out their local firms, creating jobless hardship. Health care, sanitation, education, transportation, heat and food are poor or nonexistent while we clean the plate. … We feel... [More]”

First stable forum version

Published on in earthli.com

Initial earthli forums overhaul is completed. New posts piling up daily.

Rebuttal to MS rebuttal to Gartner

Published on in Technology

When Gartner issued their recommendation that companies stop using IIS (see forum posting), Microsoft responded that other vendors, notably Apache, also had security problems. To whit:

<q>It doesn’t matter what system you are running, if you don’t keep up to date you will be hit. </q>

The Register published replies to Microsoft’s response.

<q>…That’s not very smart. It’s like saying that it doesn’t matter whether you buy a Toyota Camry or a Russian Lada, because you will eventually have to... [More]

Bruce Schneier speaks

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Bruce Schneier, an extremely well known security and cryptography expert, examines ways of preventing future attacks and debunks several proposals by the U.S. government as placatives without real merit.

<q>Computer security experts have a lot of expertise that can be applied to the real world. First and foremost, we have well-developed senses of what security looks like. We can tell the difference between real security and snake oil. And the new airport security rules, put in place after... [More]

FTC shuts down pop-ad king

Published on in Technology

An article on Slashdot reports that the FTC is shutting down a number of sites that trap you into an endless cycle of pop-up windows. Many of these cycles involve porn and gambling site advertisements. One stumbles into them by mistyping popular web addresses.

Once again, the government shouldn’t be getting involved here. This guy is just using ingenuity to manipulate the functions of popular browsers. It’s not a virus. It doesn’t do any damage. The problem lies in the browsers. Here’s a... [More]