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Friday, April 17 2015 @ 09:52 PM PDT
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Cell Phone, WiFi, WiMax, Bluetooth - Dangerous as Cigarettes? Looks Like It

I've been working in and around electronics and radio since I was a young kid - pre-teen. Because of that and quite a bit of education and practical experience with radio, TV, cell phones and all manner of antennas, measuring devices and such, as well as an excellent grounding in physics, I read this article with great interest. Its title, "Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health" mirrors lots of articles I've read in the past 20+ years, but this is the first one I've read that puts a bunch of different things into perspective in a way that makes me feel like moving far from the local cell tower and throwing away my cell phone and WiFi modem NOW!

I've pretty much agreed with the typical scientific article I've seen that the effects of microwave radiation on the human body would be mostly due to heating in the same fashion that meat heats in a microwave oven - and that such effects would be minimal due both to the relatively low power of the phones (especially recently, not so much in the first few years as the cells were larger and the radios had to be more powerful than they do today.)

"Distorting the public health literature is not a victimless crime. Workers who will be exposed to higher EMFs will face, according to Miller and Villeneuve, an up to tenfold greater cancer risk than if precautions were to be taken. Kheifets and Swanson's fraud is no different from that which helped suppress the cancer risks of cigarette smoke, asbestos and many, many chemicals. Yet these industry scientists continue to be welcomed at the highest levels as fair and balanced experts." (Junk Science - Microwave News)

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Selecting a New Laptop

Musings on life

My laptop died. It was the only Windows machine in the house - now I have to decide whether to replace it and if so, with what.

I purchased the Compaq V2000 back in 2007 to help me deal with some of my customers who still insist on using Windows. I've had a Toshiba laptop for a number of years and it still works, but the battery has died so it is no longer portable. It has run Linux since I purchased it and I never really missed Windows because I could run VMWare on it and run Windows inside a virtual machine if I really needed it.

The selection of laptops and other portable devices has grown so much in the past few years that I'm truly confused about what to purchase.

On the one hand I've found an almost direct replacement for mine on Craig's List - another V2000 that has a slightly faster chip and better graphics but would in all likelihood simply allow me to swap hard drives and boot as if it were still my old one - a great saving in time, which I begrudge spending on anything unnecessary these days. I categorize setting up a laptop as unnecessary because of all the cruft and crap the vendors put onto their retail system these days. Driving a stake through the heart of yet another bloated system's sell-ware and sniff-ware and Norton and Windows sampler and on and on... These take time - last time I did it that was several hours wasted before I could do anything useful.

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Can You Trust Your Computer? How About Your Toothbrush? Maybe Not If It Was Made In China

Computers in Use

How do you guard against someone smuggling a gun onto an aircraft? You run them through a device that shows everything down to their skin.

How do you guard against a company smuggling a security breach into your company through installing it when it is manufactured? That's the problem we're faced with. We've already been affected by digital picture frames that come with viruses pre-installed so what makes us think that we can escape other and better hidden programs being installed on hardware that is supplied to our governments and big business (and small business for that matter)?

There are stories of devices offered as gifts to businessmen at trade fairs being infected with backdoor and Trojan horse software - software that reports on what is in the computer these devices are plugged into by their unsuspecting recipients.

This is just another reason why I'm an Open Source software (and hardware) person as much as I can be. When I load something onto my computer I at least have a fighting chance at it being exactly what it purports to be because, although I personally may not have looked at that particular software, others like me have - and have not found anything wrong with it; anything hidden in it.

This is not to say that it is impossible to have something hidden so well that it just is never found - it's been done before, and by someone who was in a position of trust, Ken Thompson, one of the creators of the original Unix system.

What it really means is that you can't trust anything that you, yourself, didn't have a direct hand in creating from scratch, using only tools you crafted, from scratch. That's completely impossible today as it would put us back in the stone age as far as computers are concerned, however using and supporting the open source movement is at least one step up in the right direction since it harnesses the brains of an incredible number of brilliant and dedicated people who love taking things apart and figuring out how they work - or don't work in this case.

Try to get Microsoft to prove to you that there are no backdoors or other security holes in their products - you can't because Microsoft won't open up their code for you or anyone else to look at. Same thing with the Chinese and their hardware. The chips themselves can have security compromises in them that you can't find except by monitoring their actual performance.

We live in a world where we don't know who to trust or even whether we can trust our electronic toothbrush to not be a privacy invasive device.

hello paranoia - and reality



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I Want To Leave My Video/Music Library To My Kids

Digital Rights

I have boxes of vinyl records, DVDs and CDs, and of course a library full of books - and my kids (now 25 and 26) like a lot of the music, video, books I like - why shouldn't I leave them my collection, and why shouldn't they be able to enjoy it as I have?

It seems that with my hard-copy things this will be so, but what about works I purchase in the future that don't have an existence in hardware that is useable without connecting it to the internet and thus to the vendors' key servers?

If I have a Kindle full of e-books and/or a iPad full of music and video and ebooks and programs, will they be able to transfer them to one of their similar units? How about to their new XYZ-Super-Pad? (not yet invented but watch for it next year)

Will they be able to transfer my rights fully to one of themselves? Transfer to only one, mind you - not both as thats making another copy. They'll have to figure out who gets what.

This question is something you and your heirs should be asking every single time you purchase something that has no physical presence in a hard, read-only object. Even read-only items such as games and DVDs are being subjected to scrutiny by the publishers on whether they can get into the act of the "secondary" market of used and swapped units.

The First Sale doctrine is being attacked. Do you really "own" what you think you do? Digital Rights Management systems in place and in the future may limit your rights under this doctrine - and there's nothing you can do about it but simply not play the game - don't purchase such rights-limited product.

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Make ISPs Responsible For Copyrights and only Government will be your ISP

Digital Rights

The latest leaked information about ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) points up the fact that making ISPs responsible for the illegal actions of their customers is still on the table.

Don't these bureaucrats understand that responsibility without authority is a lose-lose option - and giving ISPs the authority to do something about things that are illegal is opening up the world to judicial concepts that are at direct odds to our long-established rule of law.

No matter whether I or others think this is a direct attack by the publishing industry on the technological revolution, this is a direct attack on the free world's judicial system and rule of law.

Kind of makes me glad I'm a rational anarchist. 

What part of making ISPs Common Carriers don't these guys understand? It's either that or the only entities who can take the responsibility and also deal with the judicial side is government - and that's going to go over really well with the private enterprise people.

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World Summit on Information Society and 3 Strikes

Digital Rights

OK - so a bunch of countries (including Canada) got together in 2005 and set out the Tunis Commitement wherein:

3. We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen respect for the rule of law in international as in national affairs.

4. We reaffirm paragraphs 4, 5 and 55 of the Geneva Declaration of Principles. We recognize that freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas, and knowledge, are essential for the Information Society and beneficial to development.


4. We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information Society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits the Information Society offers.

Now IANAL (I am not a lawyer) - but how do you square the above with the concept of "3 strikes" and removal of an entire family's access to the internet in a completely non-judicial manner?


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Paving the Digital Roads - Should Government be Responsible?

Digital Rights

I'm going to broaden this "Digital Rights" topic from its original focus of Digital Rights Management to include human Digital Rights - the right of people any/everywhere to participate in the digital revolution in much the same manner that people can participate in the physical road systems of our planet.

There are a lot of parallels here - with one exception; the digital road system is evolving far faster than the physical road system ever did, so it is far more disruptive of the world's social and economic sphere than the evolution of the road system ever was with the possible exception of the expansion of the North American highway system after World War II at the expense of the railroads/streetcars (see the back-story to the cartoon film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" as well as this article on the US Federal-Aid Highway Act (1954)

The point is that the digital highway is somewhat following the pattern of build-out of the road system in North America; first by the military, then by private enterprise, then local governments, then by the Federal government connecting all the dots in the national highway system.


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CBC - Licensing YOUR Tax Dollars - The Nose of the Camel


Cameron McMaster has just posted an excellent in-depth article on how the CBC (yes, your taxpayer-funded national broadcaster) is now using an American company (iCopyright) to attempt to extort huge amounts of money from me and other web authors, bloggers and commentators for use of anything from their site. 

Not only are they trying to double dip in this - they are trying to enforce American Copyright law on a Canadian regarding content created and published in Canada!

And we're not just talking pennies here either! They want a monthly fee of $250! (annual $500) just for one article!!!!

Even if you think you're going to post "part" of an article - they want you to pay as if you were posting the whole article - so "Fair Dealing" is no more (Fair Dealing allows abstract for commentary and reporting in Canada) as far as CBC is concerned.

The Nose of the Camel is not just poking into the tent of radical copyright changes - it's damned near all the way in the tent in this case.

Personally I think CBC should be removed from the public tit and made to stand on its own, especially if it is doing things like this.

OK - I think we should seriously consider boycotting CBC. I'll stop listening to Radio 2, watching Hockey Night in Canada and reading anything they have on their website.

I'll also send a note to my MP and tell them why.

How about you?

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Not Just Picking on Amazon and MLB

Digital Rights

Just in case you think I've been picking on Amazon and Major League Baseball recently in some of my articles about Digital Rights Management, here are some links to others who have taken money for their product and then turned it off.

The one good thing about the Apple iPod, iPhone and new iPad is that the "Fairplay" DRM they use does not need to "phone home" for you to play the item, so if (heaven forbid) Apple ever went out of the music business you still get to keep your music - and you can burn it to CD unencumbered by DRM anyway. And of course, since January 6th last year, Apple now sells much of its music in straight MP3 flavour.


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Cut Down Online Piracy - or Redefine It?


European Union Commissioner-designate for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier, has set a new EU priority policy goal: the 'eradication of online piracy' according to an article in IPTEGRITY.COM.

Along the way, via ACTA and other publisher-driven governmental initiatives, they'll forever change the nature of the internet and put such a damper on technology and creativity that I fear it will never recover. They'll make virtually everyone who does anything that might include a snippet of music or a view of a movie on a monitor in the background or almost any of a myriad of accidental inclusions of "protected content" into a criminal liable for non-judicial penalty by their ISP and civil penalties in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars (or Euros) plus complete loss of access to the internet; all for transgressions of less real importance than a druggy breaking into a home to steal your family heirlooms - and that druggy might get a small fine and/or a few days in jail.

The imbalance of what is proposed is literally incredible - in the sense of "not credible" in today's society.

There has to be a better way - and I'm here to propose it.

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