To Link Or Not To Link, That Is The Question

If anyone ever doubted that politicians are often one memory stick short of a motherboard, read on.

The story starts when Jennifer Reisinger, a web designer was involved in a effort to recall mayor Juan Perez.  While the effort was unsuccessful, there were repercussions.

Completely separate from the websites used in the recall effort, her business website Brat City Web Design had a link on it to the Sheboygan police department’s home page.

The mayors secretary asked City Attorney Stephen McLean if Reisinger could link to a city website and he told her what we all know, “Anyone can create a link to someone else’s Web site very easily without the knowledge or consent of the linked party.”

The City Attorney also said that he could issue a “Cease and Desist” order and Mayor Perez told him to go ahead and do it.

Assistant law professor at Marquette University, Bruce Boyden, a specialist in Internet law and copyright says that not all speech is protected and that somebody might “use a link to communicate a threat or violate a copyright, and that wouldn’t be protected.”

Sorry, that last doesn’t fly very far here.  A link is simply a pointer to the internet location of a website, page or file and nothing more.  Anybody trying to make it more than it that has, in my opinion more than a few screws loose.  Besides, this is a freedom of speech issue.  One of the many comments on Slashdot about the case summed it up nicely:

a woman posts a link to a municipal government website, so the mayor sends her a cease-and-desist letter and then launches a police investigation on her to intimidate the woman and coerce her into removing the link. and you see nothing wrong here?

it doesn’t matter that the city withdrew its demand after the lawsuit was filed (or possibly after the media broke the story). the point is that government officials should not be bullying political dissidents like this–especially not in concert with the police department.

the woman in this story was smart enough to contact a lawyer and fight back, but most people would probably be intimidated and just back down. this story should be reported if only so others know that such demands have no legal basis.

Finally, Because I believe in freedom of speech, I’ll join with a quickly growing number of people that are adding a no-follow Link to the Sheboygan Police Department to their websites as well as adding do-follow links to Brat City Web Design in support of freedom of speech and I urge everybody to do the same.

Technorati Tags: text link, link, freedom of speech, sheboygan police department, politicians, web design, lawsuit, brat city

65 MPG Ford Not To Be Sold In US

The rolling and screaming BS that the “Big Oil” companies and OPEC have been putting us through for the last several years has taken away something from our culture.  As most (if not all) Americans are thoroughly familiar with our great love affair with the car.

Most of us remember some important things that are related to when we got our first drivers license and then our first car.  Everything from that first zit explosion that sent us desperately trying to find out how to get rid of acne to those first clumsy dates where we were almost too nervous to function at all.

Thanks to the price of fuel and the effect it’s having on the economy, all that seems like it’s in danger of being forgotten by a generation that has to scrape and fight for the cash to get that first car and keep it on the road.

And now to add insult to injury, Ford has come up with a car that gets 65 Miles Per Gallon!  Granted, it runs on Diesel but if it gets mileage like that, who cares?!  (note that it was an American car maker that came up with this.  I knew all along that this kind of thing was possible)

The problem is that the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic will not be sold in America.  Ford cites “business reasons” for not selling a economical car in it’s home nation which happens to be perhaps the biggest market for such a thing ever.

I think that this kind of thing is inexcusable.  Ford should do whatever it takes to get this thing available in it’s economy version built and sold in America. I think it would also be a great idea for American car owners everywhere to get after Ford about this and nag them until they do it.

And I don’t mean coming up with a gasoline version that maybe gets 32mpg like everything else out there.  I’m talking about the full 65mpg diesel powered version.

Technorati Tags: corporate greed, economy, 65 mpg, fuel prices, miles per gallon, gas mileage, technology, american cars, ford

Thingamablog Templates And Freenet 0.5

Recently I wrote about a project Modifying Thingamablog For Freenet 0.5 and while I have not yet been able to solve the puzzle of how to make the needed mods for the current version of Thingamablog, I have run into a problem with the templates.

Thingamablog uses tags within the templates that need to be converted into the final urls for each of the various pages within a blog.  For example, every occurance of <$BaseURL$> in the template will be replaced with the BaseUrl of the blog.  i.e.

There are several of these tags:

They present a problem when inserting the blog into freenet however because in order to do that, the BaseUrl has to be #$#ps.key;/#$#e:ps.ednum;//, which the Freesite Insertion Wizard (FiW) will replace with the correct /SSK@publickeyvalue/edition-number//

The problem is that this only works for the index.html page of the blog.  I need to find a way to convince FiW to parse all of the .html pages in the blog instead of just the index.  This is needed in order for the different pages of the blog to work within freenet.

I’d appreciate input from Freenet 0.5 users or Thingamablog users on ways to get the themes that are distributed with Thingamablog to work properly for freenet blogs (flogs)

I’d really like to get this off the ground because publishing within freenet is a great way to be able to distribute material that would otherwise be subject to censorship and Thingamablog is a great tool for creating and formatting the flog (freenet blog) before it is published.

Technorati Tags: blog, Blogging, fiw, flog, Freenet, freenet+0.5, freesite+insertion+wizard, template+tags, thingamablog

Andromeda Strain Contest

Simply Stating The Obvious is having it’s first contest and it’s a good one.  Read on…

Serious Science fiction fans of all ages are no doubt familiar with the Michael Crichton novel, The Andromeda Strain.  It was destined to become one of the great classics in Science fiction writing.  Then in 1971 it was made into a movie starring Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, and Kate Reid.  Like the book before it, this movie has long since been considered a classic work of science fiction.

Now some 37 years later A&E has taken up the task of remaking this classic story.  This version is starrring: Benjamin Bratt, Eric McCormack, Christa Miller, Daniel Dae Kim, Viola Davis, Ricky Schroder, and Andre Braugher.

This version will be airing as a four hour event over two nights, Monday, May 26, 2008 and Tuesday, May 27, 2008 from 9-11 PM Eastern.  With this version being nearly twice as long and having access to SFX and other production techniques that weren’t possible when the original was made… It ought to be great.

Check out the The Andromeda Strain Website

If you want to get in on the contest, you’ve got until Sunday, May 25, 2008 to be eligible for the prize.

Speaking of prizes…..
The Prize Packages (yes, there’s two of ’em) Include:

  • a The Andromeda Strain t-shirt,
  • The Andromeda Strain DVD Collection featuring both the 2008 A&E miniseries and the Oscar-nominated 1971 film
  • The Andromeda Strain novel by Michael Crichton

And lest ye forget, it airs Monday, May 26, 2008 and Tuesday, May 27, 2008 from 9-11 PM Eastern.

Technorati Tags: a&e, andromeda+strain, contest, dvd+collection, michael+crichton, miniseries, movie, science+fiction, the+andromeda+strain

FBI Wants Authority To Snoop Internet Backbone Data

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the fact that there are government agencies doing a lot of snooping on all manner of Internet traffic.  It’s also safe to say that since 9-11 this snooping has escalated massively.  Now, the FBI is trying to get access to data that the NSA has been collecting from the Internet backbone (servers through which ALL Internet traffic passes through) so that they can look for criminal activity.

The problem with this is that they’re apparently not just limiting this to justifiable searches and evidence gathering in the course of an ongoing investigation.  This is a lot more “Big Brother” in nature, scanning data looking for things that they can then investigate and prosecute as crimes.  As if they don’t already have enough active cases to work on.

The problems with this kind of thing are many, most of which have to do with the fact that it blows all sorts of holes in people’s right to privacy.  It also means that it becomes more and more necessary to watch what you say online because you never know when “Big Brother” is watching and what he may decide is a sign that you’re on the wrong side of the law.

It means that people need to take active steps to maintain privacy.  The first thing to remember is that the online world has always been subject to people being able to snoop.  While it’s generally a good practice to never write anything online that you wouldn’t want posted on a billboard where everyone in town can read it, it’s also sometimes necessary to communicate privately.

This is why I think that everybody should take a little bit of time to get and learn how to use some basic privacy tools.  Like for example, users of the Thunderbird mail client could get GnuPG and the Enigmail plugin and learn how to send encrypted and / or signed emails.  Maintaining safe browsing practices, never entering important passwords on un-trusted computers. (and untrusted means something that you’re not in control of what’s on it)

As for the FBI’s quest for access to still more information about everybody and their habits.  This needs to be stopped, the problem is that too many people are either ignorant of or foolishly unconcerned about things like this until it’s too late.

Technorati Tags: encryption, security, fbi, nsa, internet+backbone, domestic+spying, gnupg, enigmail, safe+computing, privacy

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