Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Got Gaim?

America Online's AOL Instant Messaging ("AIM") is among the most popular instant messaging client-server solutions that many humans use globally. Recently, they had changed their privacy policy:

"acaben writes "AOL has posted new terms of service for AIM, that include the right for AOL to use anything and everything you send through AIM in any way they see fit, without informing you. A sample passage: '...by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy.'""
full article: Slashdot.org

Luckily for us, and thanks to blog or news websites, people can turn into instant activists and get a result:

"gpmac writes "AOL has responded to the recent slashdot attention. America Online Inc. plans to make three small but significant modifications to the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging product to head off a firestorm of privacy-related criticisms. The tweaks to the terms of service will be made in the section titled "Content You Post" and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL.""
full article: Slashdot.org

But if you're like me, you didn't sigh in relief at the second post, but noticed the corporate maneuver and understand that AOL's goal is to save all your messages and that is enough to look elsewhere. I wouldn't reccomend Yahoo! messenger, as Yahoo has no respect for their user's privacy rights either.

The next best solution? MSN messenger! haha.

Check out Jabber

What is Jabber?
Jabber is best known as "the Linux of instant messaging" -- an open, secure, ad-free alternative to consumer IM services like AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo (see the IM quickstart). Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real time. Jabber technologies offer several key advantages:
What can I do with Jabber?
So far you can use Jabber to talk with other people who use Jabber and participate in Jabber chat rooms. You can also chat with users of some other IM services (see below). Depending on which Jabber client you use, you can also transfer files, receive headlines, and so on.
Can I use Jabber to talk with people who use other IM services?
You certainly can! Communication with legacy IM services is made possible by what we call "gateways". Jabber developers have created software for gateways to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, MSN Instant Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. However, not every Jabber server runs the gateway. See the Jabber User Guide for help setting up the gateways in your Jabber client.

Although Jabber does interface with 'legacy systems,' this interface means sending messages to the foreign servers. But, to avoid the privacy issues stated above, you need to avoid their servers. Therefore, I would reccomend leaving your friends in the dust while lobbying them to switch to Jabber. If they're worth talking to, they'll probably agree.

Got Gaim?
The only problem - your AOL-AIM client can't connect to Jabber. AIM only connects to oscar, AOL's centralized messaging server. So you need to establish a client-server platform for your new Jabber communicae. This is all described at Jabber.org. GAIM is a fully functional client which talks to all the popular flavors - AIM, Yahoo, MSM, Jabber, IRC, etc - similar to Trillian, but this one is open source and free. Here's a quick setup that I did on WindowsXP:

1. Download the client: gaim
2. Create a new account in GAIM that is of a Jabber protocol.
While supplying information for your new account (screen name, passwd, etc) be sure to click 'Advanced' and provide which jabber server you want to speak to. When adding buddies, you can specify their server, so in a sense all the servers can talk to each other. So, don't worry about where your buddies are, just worry about which is fastest for you.
3. Click to register your new jabber account on the jabber server you picked
4. Add buddies ( screenname@jabberserver.domain )

And you've successfully shed the closed-source proprietary information aggregating anti-privacy anti-people instant messaging corporate servers. Congrats!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Here comes the Robot Army, Part 2

Israel to deploy robot bulldozers

The Israeli army is to deploy remote-controlled bulldozers to demolish Palestinian buildings.

Officials say the towering D-9 bulldozer has been modified to eliminate the risk to drivers.

The original US-made vehicle has been used to demolish hundreds of buildings linked to Palestinian militants in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians say the new version will mean more buildings will be destroyed - and more lives will be lost.



Full article

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Health v2 - Five steps to improve your health

This is a lifestyle, not a diet.

1. Change the way you think about fat. Fat is good. Eliminate trans fat from your diet as much as possible.
Less: hydrogenated
More: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fat

2. Change the way you think about carbohydrates. Carbs are good. Eliminate refined grains from your diet as much as possible.
Less: refined (white) flour, refined sugar, white rice
More: whole wheat, brown rice

3. Consume organic food, all foods. Everything else contains genetically modified organisms or chemical additives, such as antibiotics, which may be harmful due to lack of testing. Also, non-organic food is subjected to much higher volumes of pesticides, which is bad for the consumer, the field worker, and the ecosystem that the pesticides enter into via ground absorption.
Less: Genetically altered food (non-organic), hormone-altered dairy (non-organic milk, butter, yogurt, etc)
More: Organic everything

4. Go vegetarian. Consider dairy and other animal products in the light of cooperative living, rather than manufacturing and processing, and support the producers who operate in those terms. There is no need in this world to waste energy and food by harvesting other animals for their fat and muscle. The process being used today is quite cruel overall, and genetic manipulation without testing and regulations is only going to perpetuate an erroneous path.
Less: Dead animal flesh
More: Everything else

5. Exercise. Forever. Cardiological & strength. Get involved in group or community sports programs, or start one.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Identity Theft and Credit, part III

Just when things were bad, they're going to worse. Ah, the glory of Bush!

" The Republican-dominated Congress is on the verge of changing the nation's bankruptcy laws to make it easier for the hugely profitable credit card companies to get their money back and more at the expense of the nation's poor."

God bless them all.

"The "reform" is ostensibly needed to counter those who are abusing the current system by running up large debts and then wiping them out, leaving banks and credit card companies high and dry.

But the extent of those abuses is open to debate. It is known, however, that one of the leading causes of bankruptcy, especially among Americans over 50, has long been devastating medical bills not covered by insurance.

This Republican-dominated Congress would rather pass legislation favoring the wealthy and powerful than tackle the nation's shameful health care system that has left 42 million Americans without any medical coverage.

The "reform" package would require bankruptcy filers to pass a means test. If their incomes are above a certain poverty-line linked level, they wouldn't be able to file under Chapter 7, where all but a few debts are wiped out. Rather, they would be required to file under Chapter 13, which requires specific payments to creditors over a set number of years. "

Just when you thought you could get out of debt...

""What the credit card industry has been doing the last 10 years is akin to sending free samples of alcohol to alcoholics," says Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Consumer Federation of America.

All segments of society have been affected. Veterans, for example, are being counseled by American Legion Magazine this month about the "debt trap" from too much credit card use.

"Paying the minimum payment every time on a $5,000 credit card debt at 21 percent interest will require 1,040 payments to clear the debt," the article points out. "Beyond the $5,000 principal balance, $32,198.66 in interest will be paid." "

Those shameful veterans.
Full article Bankruptcy Bill is Congress' Shame
Oops... I mean 'lawmakers'

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Here comes the Robot Army

There is an interesting trend of military technology of late: The development and deployment of a robot army.

"Late last week, in a parking lot in New Jersey, the U.S. Army unveiled what may be the future of war: 3-foot-tall robotic “soldiers,” outfitted with tank tracks, night vision and mounted automatic weapons capable of firing more than 300 rounds at a burst. Known as SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems), these battle bots are on the leading edge of a new kind of warfare, in which — or so the argument goes — our troops will one day remain hidden (and, presumably, protected) while engaging the enemy by remote control. The Army intends to deploy 18 SWORDS units to Iraq in the spring, marking the first time robots have been used to fight and kill human beings one on one." -GNN "When Robots Do The Killing"

"Gun-slinging robots headed for Iraq duty"

Coming Soon: Robots with Guns

When Robots Do The Killing - Common Dreams

Pentagon Prepares To Build
$130bn Robot Army


The Robot Army of the Future

What happens when an oligarchy controls a globally-deployable robot strike team with air drones equipped with missiles and robot infantry with guns and rocket launchers, all networked via sattelite with night, infrared, facial recognition, spacial recognition optical technologies.

Who is to say that anyone is safe? Or has any ounce of privacy? In the globe.

And, just in case your favorite organized rebellion does happen to be armed with conventional weapons, rest assured your friendly robot government is armed with something much more effective:

"The US military is developing a new “plasma weapon” designed to inflict non-lethal but excruciating pain from long distances. The weapon is being designed with rioters/demonstrators in mind, and seems to be the logical extension of the mentality that relegates all public expressions of dissent to free-speech cages. I also wonder whether its development is any indication of the government’s expectation of more widespread dissent in the near future." --GNN, Plasma pain weapon

"Scientists have reacted angrily to the revelation that the US military is funding development of a weapon intended to deliver an "excrutiating bout of pain" from over a mile away. The "Pulsed Energy Projectile" (PEP) device "fires a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid", the New Scientist explains. If you happen to be that something solid, then you get temporarily incapacitated without suffering permanent injury.

That's the theory, but pain reasearchers fear that the proposed riot control weapon could be used for torture, and further doubt a solid ethical basis for the research. Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, said: "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown."" --The Register, Scientists slam US plasma weapon

As one poster posts:
-------------------
"Posted Dec 1, 2004, 9:54 PM ET by Ken Zemach

As a guy who just got back from 19 months in Afghanistan and Iraq supporting at least 10 different robotic platforms, I can categorically say that weapons on ground based robots is the stupidest idea on the planet. Scenario: 1. Marines roll into Falujia (again) and send a robot with a machine gun down the street "to protect soldiers." 2. Man in window down street starts video taping. 3. Man sends 8 year old boy (or girl) down to beat the crap out of the robot with a baseball bat. We end up with either: 4a. Soldier decides not to gun down 8 year old boy, and boy destroys $500k robot and then man comes down and takes machine gun or 4b. Soldier guns down boy with robot, video to air on Al Jazeera at 6pm.

A lethally armed, expensive robotic platform with secure military communications equipment that can be disabled by a 70 year old woman who walks up to it and drapes a bedsheet over the camera (and then beats the crap out of it) is so ridiculous it makes me want to cry.

And to all those of you non-military guys and gals: not all soldiers think arming robots is a good idea. It's the dumb asses sitting behind a desk in the US that think it's a good idea. A complete and monumental waste of your tax dollars, I assure you."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Joke

Q: What is the difference between Bush in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq?

A: Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam




Thursday, March 03, 2005

Identity Theft and Credit, Part II

An email action alert from Consumers Union notified me of some rather interesting legislation coming to a state near you (maybe):

"Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., ruining the credit of millions of Americans each year. Using just a few pieces of personal information, a thief can steal your identity and open new credit accounts in your name.

But in some states, legislators are fighting identity theft by proposing laws that give consumers the right to lock up their credit files with a security freeze. A security freeze lets you decide who gets to see your credit record, which prevents thieves from obtaining credit using your identity.

Act now! Lawmakers in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachuetts, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington have introduced legislation that will give you greater control over your credit record information. Help them get these bills passed! Click on your state in the green box. Click here to learn more about state bills. And if you receive a letter back from your legislator, tell us what they said."

And you can support this legislation by visiting the financial privacy website and using their email webform. Thankfully, Massachusetts is one of the states involved this round, so I was able to participate. I have no doubt this will be a national measure in the near future, unless the credit lobbyists manage to buy the republican majority as they have done before.

And are currently doing with the new Bankruptcy bill on the senate floor.

" As the U.S. Senate began considering bankruptcy legislation today, national consumer organizations called on Senators to reject the bill because it would favor creditors at the expense of Americans who have suffered genuine financial misfortune.

The bankruptcy bill (S. 256) would place numerous additional restrictions on Americans who attempt to declare either chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy (see attached for more information.) It does not, however, place any restrictions on abusive lending by creditors.

“While credit card companies urge Congress to erect new bankruptcy barriers for many families, their profits are soaring,” said Travis Plunkett, Legislative Director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This bill simply doesn’t balance responsibility between families in debt trouble and the creditors whose practices have contributed to the rise in bankruptcies,” Plunkett said.

A large body of evidence..."

Please read the full article via consumersunion.org.

Peace

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Killology : Fighting life by accepting the murder of others



This is quite a spectacle. This particular lecturer specializes in educating people to accept the most evil act in the world that is both a sin in all major religions, instinctually wrong, and illegal: Homicide, manslaughter, murder.


"KILLOLOGY, (n): The scholarly study of the destructive act, just as sexology is the scholarly study of the procreative act. In particular, killology focuses on the reactions of healthy people in killing circumstances (such as police and military in combat) and the factors that enable and restrain killing in these situations. This field of study was pioneered by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in his Pulitzer-nominated book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society."


killology
The psychological cost of learning to kill

Excuse me while I dodge the gun pointed at my face. Whoop~!
I guess I'm just more into clerical arts, rather than making people suffer and being content with it. That sounds more like Satan's bed.