Category Archives: Internet

Hotlinking is Bad…

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A hard lesson I learned by doing the wrong thing – most of the first several posts on my blog contained images linked directly to sites, mostly in Europe.Β  Very graphics heavy, they were. Now the graphics have almost completely disappeared due to moving servers, removal of images, whatever. After the first couple years, they started posting notices NOT to hotlink… I did eventually get the message, but not before I’d already filled bunches of posts with the hotlinked gifs. My bad.

I get to cry, and, if I care enough, go back and reconstitute the graphics in my blog entries.

So here is my dilemma – Is it worth my time? Would more people actually look at those entries? Is it worth it for the 6 of you who regularly check for my occasional spasms of blogging? Or do I do this solely for MY artistic satisfaction – which turns out to be the main reason I write this blog, anyway, given my broad readership base (OK, so maybe only one or 2 of you are broad. Get over it…)

Think think think.

(Momentary distraction by the 1980s Peter, Paul and Mary concert playing now in place of Antiques Road Show – how many weeks can they let this “festival” go on? I’m one who would gladly pay them to shorten the frickin’ things!!!)

I have reached a conclusion drawn on enlightened self-interest. It will be an appropriate discipline for my sins of the past to go back and do the things RIGHT. Not to mention a good example for the teenager I’m supposed to be teaching πŸ˜€

It was Time for a Change…

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Wait! It’s not PURPLE! So how can it be my blog?

I got very tired of the ribbons in my last WP theme covering my gravatar and anything else they pleased. The default font was wonky and made my sidebar look like pulled taffy.

I saw custom design and name your own domain packages, thought about site hosting, and looked at most of the fonts on type kit. Am I going to start a stand-alone eCommerce extravaganza to sell Nik’s photos and my junk? Do I want to spend hours messing with CSS and shopping carts and lay-out strategies? Am I going to waste money buying into the custom design “make all your own fancy fonts” thing?

No. Yawn. Next…

I’m more interested in saving money for a new travel adventure. Wanna go on another trip.Β  Or 2. Or more! Rome was just the beginning…

Have new doggeh to love on, too. Disa, the beautiful Finnish Lapphund who has blessed our lives!

I know the day is looming nearer when I’ll have to get all serious about my online sales again. Nik needs business experience and exposure for his art. I need to sell the vintage junk, uh, lovelies overflowing my house. Creativity must occur. Creativity must occur.

Creativity.

Creativity…

AHHKKK! Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  PZZZTTTT….

That was the sound of my brain shorting out.

We sprang forward today. There’s one less hour in the day and it’s almost gone…

So in the interest of time and abating a bit of my frustration, there’s a new theme. Pretty paisley, unadorned by any tweaks, headers or customizations.

And I still missed the end of the day. It’s tomorrow already…

Here are some more pics of Disa… Enjoy!

No! No! Bad SOPA! Bad PIPA! No! No!

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I’ve censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet–a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: http://americancensorship.org/posts/45811/uncensor

I am SO β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ who don’t β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ how the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ to β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, and, β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, a β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ-β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ has β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ and β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ. The Big $ has β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ our β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ; our so-β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ are too β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ and too β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ to β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ are β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ to the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ in the US and β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ.β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ all the β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ who are β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ for β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ – do β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ you β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ to do, β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ of β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, to β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ are β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ out of β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ and β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ by β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ, β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ!!

Uncensor This

I HATE Vista… but WinUtilities ROCKS!

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Windows Vista is one of the most evil operating systems in the known world. I hate it. Say this lightly, I do not.

How do I know this? I use it. Or, am used by it? Trapped, anyway. It came on my lovely new ASUS; only choice at the time. Damn you, Microsoft!!

Alright, I know I’m 2 years behind in my hate-o-gram, but I managed to hang on to my XP laptop until it literally fried.

I’m sure I’ll learn to hate Windows 7, too, but it will probably be for an entirely different set of problems…

I am only waiting to upgrade to Win7 because I have to get my cracked screen fixed (the boys were playing…). I don’t know if they’ll fix my machine, or switch it out. It’s going to take at least 2 weeks; I’m not sure I can go that long using Hubby’s desktop or commandeering Nik’s netbook. Sigh.

Over the last few months, I’ve been plagued with dropping Internet connections, messed up web browsers, Photoshop crashes & an entire host of other, annoying but not as critical, failures. Tiring of having to reload sites in Firefox 2 or 3 times, I started on the trail of a solution (or at least a mild sedative…). Spent several days last month in an attempt to figure it out myself. (as if!) Finally I surrendered to the world of multiple tech support forums. A couple sites, clearly used to the “did you plug your computer in?” type of response,Β  made the now-obviouslyΒ  simplistic suggestion of a conflict between recent updates of my antivirus & firewall sounded plausible.

Naively, I tried to uninstall AVG & COMODO firewall. Little did I know, I had plunged into a tar pit. Thrashed around for a couple of weeks before I realized I might die right there next to the saber-toothed tigers.Β  Those two programs get so entrenched in your system, they might as well be, as another user remarked, viruses themselves. Gave up for a while to free my holidays of computer-related despair.

Got brave again this week. The victory over Nik’s XP Home got me all narcissistic about my computer skills. Ready to take on AVG & COMODO again. Found out there are special removal programs written specifically for each product.

Even these couldn’t remove all the sticky gunk. Two more removal tools, registry cleaners, junk file cleaners….Β Β  and this wasn’t even the fix!!!

More tech forum. Now, these are the good guys techguy.org and various other groups of people who actually volunteer to help with this shit. The real problem is, no one knows what the real problem is!! So they try… and try… but it all comes outΒ  Blah Blah Blah Blah…. Incredibly convoluted theoretical code that sometimes worked by re-writing what MS had gotten wrong –Β  And it was different for EACH USER!! These were interactions with motivated users, usually drawn out over several days. Unfortunately, mostΒ  were long & painful, like this:

At the MS Restaurant…

Customer: Waiter!

Waiter: Hi, my name is Bill and I’ll be your support staff. May I please have your telephone number, and address? Your visit may be monitored for training purposes. Now, please tell me your problem.

Customer: There’s a fly in my soup!

Waiter: Please exit the restaurant and re-enter through the front entrance. Is the fly still there?

Customer: Yes, the fly is still in my soup

Waiter: Maybe it’s the way you’re using the spoon. Try ladling with the other hand

Customer: Whichever hand I use to spoon the soup, the fly is still there.

Waiter: Maybe the soup is incompatible with the bowl; what kind of bowl are you using?

Customer: A SOUP bowl! Waiter: It looks like a configuration problem; how was the bowl set up?

Customer: Your colleague brought the bowl on a saucer; what has that to do with the fly in my soup?

Waiter: Did you have bread or crackers with your soup? They may have attracted the fly

Customer: No, just soup! Waiter: What was the last thing you did before you noticed the fly in your soup?

Customer: I sat down and ordered the Soup of the Day!

Waiter: Was the fly immediately visible, or did it take a while before he floated to the top?

Customer: It was right there! In the soup!

Waiter: What did the fly look like? Customer: Dead. It looked dead.

Waiter: Did you bring something in to the restaurant that could have contained the fly?

Customer: No!Β  It was just me! And there’s a screen on the front door.

Waiter: Maybe there’s a hole in the screen; did you make sure you closed the door?

Customer: The screen is fine. I want my soup!

Waiter: Let me look at the bowl so I can see where the fly is. Β  Β Β  Customer: IT IS IN THE BOWL!!

Waiter: I see. Now dump out your soup and see if the fly goes away.

Customer: That’s ridiculous! Then I won’t have any soup!!

Waiter: Have you considered upgrading to the latest Soup of the Day? That Soup of the Day may be having problems with dead flies.

Customer: You have more than one Soup of the Day? Waiter: Yes, the Soup of the Day is changed every 10 minutes.

Customer: Well, what is the Soup of the Day now?

Waiter: The current Soup of the Day is mushroom. Customer: OK , I’ll try the mushroom soup

Waiter: Here is your soup of the day. Customer: Wait! This is celery soup. And it has a fly too.

Waiter: No, can’t you see? That’s the beta version of mushroom soup.

(I modified this from a site of free Vista jokes)

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10 gazillion people, all with the same or similar issues. Some brands of computers, worse than others. Some issues fixed by moving around code, adding or deleting programs, following arcane tech support advice, combofix files… but most were completely hopeless. I had visions of a sea of pitiful users staring hopelessly at the altar of Microsoft, chanting “How could you do this to us???”.

Since I tried several of said “fixes”,Β  I had to invoke the sacred “system restore” by Saturday night.

A few things had become clear to me at that time:

*Microsoft is evil. (I understand that sea of users coming for Bill Gates with pitchforks and torches.)

*Microsoft didn’t make Vista compatible with a large number of commonly used routers.

*Much of the problems could be traced to a 10/2 Windows “update”.

*None of this will go away completely while I’m still being used by Vista.

*I was going to have to upgrade to Windows 7 and buy a new router, in order to have any hope of my computerΒ  working as well as my old XP machines – and this wasn’t going to happen very soon.

What could I do now? At the very least, I could optimize the heck out of what I had!

Now system was restored to beginning of December, when I had just uninstalled AVG 2011 the first time. Time to go for it!

Got rid of COMODO & AVG as much as I could. I see no reason to buy software when there are so many good free programs available. Decided to return to avast!, which I’d used a few years ago. Zone Alarm as firewall.

SpywareBlaster for good measure. Cnet editors highly recommended a new utilities suite, WinUtilities, so I went with that.Β  There are 2 other tools I found ERUNT, an emergency registry restorer & NTREGOPT, a unique tool that optimizes registry hive architecture (not a defragger). Kept my updated CCleaner & Malwarebyte’s AntiMalware.

Fiddled around with a few other things (decreased some indexing, disabled windows search). Cleaned & defragged & cleaned some more. There are still pieces of AVG junk stuffed so far in files, I’ll need a microscope to find them!

I do have to say, though – WinUtilities Free from YL Software ROCKS!!! I think it has every utility you could possibly need on a machine, even ifΒ  you’re an advanced user who likes to mess with code yourself! It cleans disks, registry, programs lists, defrags everything, protects documents, covers your tracks with shredding & ultrasecure deletion, searches, backs up & restores registry, accesses the built-in Windows tools…all through one elegantly simple interface.

OK, so I hate Vista even more – but at least I have a new good buddy!

And my machine is lots faster & friendlier – even if the dropped connections & page loading problems still linger on.

Of course, that’s not to say I’m going to like Windows 7 any more…

Hackers: 21st Century MacGyvers?

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There were SO many interesting and/or disturbing news storiesΒ  yesterday,Β  my brain nearly exploded when I contemplated blogging. No DREAM, Bev Perdue choppin’ away at the remnants of NC state government, good riddance “don’t ask, be a douche”, Republicans, Bev Perdue, Republicans…

I just couldn’t do it. I knew if I started, I’d be sucked so far into the blogosphere, they’d have to send a search party to get me to go to bed.

Instead, I read What Would MacGyver Do? by Brendan Vaughan, starting myself in another direction, which – as usual – came back to the very issues I was attempting to ignore… MacGyver is now part of our cultural heritage & English lexicon. Anyone capable of reading this bog ought to know what “to MacGyver” means. If you don’t, go look it up, or you’ll be a bit confused.

MacGyver burst on the scene only a couple of months before my daughter burst into the world. Since I was finishing my master’s thesis at the same time, naturally I spent plenty of time watching TV. A little 14″ cutie from a pawn shop, our TV kept me entertained on long Sunday afternoons, soothing me to sleep with football commentary. We’d actually bought it to play Atari, but … (slap face. get back on topic!) The series spanned a my new career, 2 children, a divorce & start ofΒ  medical school, so it swam in & out of my consciousness. Through the wonders of syndication, I could catch an old episode every now & then.

When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be James Bond. Now I realize I would much rather have been more like MacGyver. Β  Not only could he jury-rig himself out of almost any situation, he was also a truly good human being. What Would MacGyver Do? contained stories of real human beings improvising brilliant solution & saving themselves from the perils of arrest, embarrassment, angry spouses & heat stroke. (That whole drinking your pee thing makes me gag, but I’m sure I’d do it too if the circumstances were bad enough…) I was impressed by how imaginative deceptions people invent, but many of those are not in the good-hearted MacGyver spirit.. On the other hand, use of common sense, the tools at hand & basic scientific principles, in the face of other people wringing their hands or stomping around having temper tantrum, is what I consider truly MacGyverish.

When faced with an impending crisis, most people tend to react in one of 3 ways.Β  Most frequent & most familiar is the “OMG! Whatever will we do? We’re going to die! Or something horrible! Or at least have to put up with the running toilet for 4 days until the plumber comes!!!”. You can’t tell them anything; all they see is the sky falling & they must run & tell Farmer Brown. Now. Something has to be done now. Extremely short-term results oriented – they’d escape the chicken house, then get eaten by the fox.

There is also the “Whatever” denial group. Hearing some horrible crashing, grinding sound, these guys (yeah, usually guys) will poke their head up from whatever they’re doing. They’ll then look at their immediate surroundings, determine nothing can be touched, tasted, smelled or seen (yet), and promptly resume watching the 24th re-run ofΒ  “Whatever”.Β  Until they start roasting, they never know a B-52 crashed in their front yard, engulfing their entire neighborhood is in flames. Unobservant & immobile, these rock-like mules will never see or hear anything that they don’t already think they know or believe. Uh huh – read that one again!

Both OMG! & Whateverare maladaptive responses to fear: Fear of the unknown, the known, the might be, the what if & I might have to do something different.

In contrast to incompetent frenzied flapping chickens & self-centeredΒ  snoring ostriches, there is a third group. We’re the people who say “I’m sure we can figure something out…I don’t know quite how, but we’ll get through this…Whatever happens, I can handle it…Here, let me fix that toilet for you…”.Β  We’re the people who will spend 18 hours learning HTML by trying to figure out how to keep the funky script from appearing on our (pre-made) template on website x, when it worked fine on y. Having taught themselves before they were 14 to repair toilets & re-wire the Christmas lights (sometimes out of self-defense), they think – high school dropouts can do this, so can I. We know never, ever leave home without duct tape, rope, a knife and – of course – a wire clothes hanger. (Yes, that’s all based on personal experience…)

I’ve noticed there are several characteristics that set the “MacGyvers” apart. One is a sense of competence, of one’s self as a competent human being. It’s important to believe you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, including failure. Another is the ability to pause & evaluate the situation, before doing anything else. I mean really evaluate the situation & environment, making as few assumptions as possible, only as reasonable extrapolations of what you know. Willness to admit you don’t know, to be wrong, to ask for help when appropriate – these are all MacGyverish characteristics. A big helping of (un)common sense, a basic understanding of the physical world & knowing what you don’t know is needed, too.

Here’s where it comes full circle. I see state, national & international governments being shredded by the tug-of-war between the OMG! & Whatever factions.Β  Various groups take turns playing those roles in different situations. Currently, as US is over-run by squawking Democrats & Republican rocks, Obama has been trying to MacGyver the government. Unfortunately, there’s too much chaos & volume to accurately assess the situation, much less to expect to implement any brilliant solutions. Mr. Obama’s willingness to “be wrong” has made him a target of ridicule, instead of admiration.Β  Most Western politicians have been squawking about wikileaks, but the US is screeching most loudly. I believe it was the Israelis who made a comment about the US being so busy reacting to wikileaks that they didn’t have time to have talks. Not, I think, an admirable face to show the international community, eh?

Meanwhile, there are some MacGyvers in the international community, but they don’t belong to a government or any particular political ideology. They are the hackers, the new “freedom fighters”, the ones who say – it’s out there, I’ll find it… this shouldn’t be hiding under a rock, let me shine some light in there…Β Β  They have networks of resources, contingency plans, others who’ll get their back, and, above all, confidence. Often mistaken for arrogance, confidence is more self-understanding than self-glorification.

I see this in Julian Assange. He is confident that he has taken the best course. He understands he’s not the only or even most important part of the wikileaks movement anymore & has been quite willing to let it be so. He used his resources, took time to consider his actions and turned himself in to the British in a quite calculated move.

In many ways, I identify with JA. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd unquestioningly. Somehow, I know, like me, he’d never settle for “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Like JA’s mother, I’m working hard to make certain my home-schooled son doesn’t develop an unhealthy respect for ‘authority’!!

Is the Password to Grandma’s Basement “123456” or “password”?

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I enjoyed the article about Gnosis hacking the Gawker website & revealing how apathetic users are about using passwords. There are so many sites requiring a password to “become part of the community”, that it’s quite easy to get password burnout. But “123456”? Really? I understand the temptation. Many times in the last 20 years, I’ve found myself staring at those annoying red letters that announce my failure to join the correct user name with the correct password. I now have a fairly simple, but secure method to generate a unique PW for each individual site, which allows me to remember them easily. No more scribbling pws on yellow stickys – something my 80-year-old father still does “just in case”. He has a healthy disrespect for technology, despite spending 5 hours a day on-line.

In an attempt to further simplify my life & connect with the on-line community, I try to keep the same user name & avatar (now a gravatar…). That way, all the same people who comment on the NYTimes, NPR & BBC sites can recognize me in the Comedy Central forums too! The problem comes when someone else has sneakily acquired it first, & I have to modify it.Β  I’ve also had issues when the sign-in is an email address that’s not my primary email.

Usually, I’m OK, as long as my browser picks up the pw correctly. Not all sites let me save info in my browser, nor do I want all of it in my browser! I get around this by keeping bits & parts of this info in various files on my system. None of this is any help, however, if I’m attempting a log-on from a remote site!!

Earlier this year, I password protected the administrator ID on my son’s netbook,Β  using a combination of letters, numbers & symbols – in what I thought was a fairly simple phrase – in order to keep it safe from teenage hacking fingers.Β  Now, despite the “hint” I set up, I can’t for the life of me remember them! I’ve even tried doing an algorhythm matrix to test all the probable combinations I might have used… Massive fail. Now I can’t access the security OR maintainance features… or upload new, protective firefox add-ons. What I get for being so clever, I suppose – defeated by my own cunning!!

(UPDATE!! 1/2011. My cleverness returned with the new year, I realized there must be a back door in XP Home for all the other idiots who’ve done the same thing… Found it! Also finally pressed the right button at the right time, to get into SAFE mode. It’s one of those computers with a proprietary start-up; it doesn’t have that old fashion black screen. I, once more, have the “Mommy hacker of the House” crown…)

I also use numerous add-ons which allow me to browse fairly anonymously. My next step is to set up a rotating proxy, which is about as far as I am willing to go – there’s just not that much I have to hide & so much time I can devote to dealing with privacy & security features.

Meanwhile, we continue to be bombarded by the convoluted saga of stolen, leaked government documents, Julian Assange’s trumped-up Swedish charges, bail or no bail, Anonymous attacking “anti-wikileaks” sites, etc….

So who needs to spend time on privacy & security features??? Repeat after me – “The US Government”! A very low ranking soldier (what is he, a private?) is accused of up-loading bunches of supposedly sensitive documents from Afghanistan to wikileaks. He’s probably not the same guy responsible for the latest 250,000; there are probably quite a few leaks in that dam. Here’s one of the big problems – these documents were in a place that’s security is roughly equivalent to boxes in my Grandmother’s basement. She wouldn’t let just anyone in the front door, but there were at least 3 half windows downstairs. Like anyone was going to want diplomatic cables, right?

Now, it turns out that most of them are really, really just trash. The “what are you doing Tuesday night? Let’s have dinner” sort of trash. Why do you think only a few have been released? How long will it take to sift through a quarter million potential junk mails, in order to find something actually interesting? As an scientific information specialist in one of my former lives, I spent LOTS of times sorting through confidential corporate documents, most of which were exactly the same sort of trash. Much sympathy I have for the wikileaks sorters!

Why is so much trash considered “confidential”, “classified”, “secret” or “top secret”? And if it’s so important, why is it in Grandma’s basement? Here’s my theory: It’s been shown that government correspondence suffers from “over-classification”;Β  those red stamps are so pretty! Government officials are notorious for thinking anything they do is much more important than it actually is. So, the ones in charge of security know most of it was completely drivel, and, as such, didn’t think it was worth extra-special security. By this, I mean “security that a high school graduate can’t hack”…the equivalent of using a password more secure than “123456” or “password”. Unfortunately, that also means worthless paper is mixed with documents that truely might be important (or embarrassing…)!

Even though Grandma would never let a stranger through her door, she invited several of these sweet young leakers in. After all, they were her grandchildren’s friends. Some of them may have even been her grandchildren… She wasn’t aware of it, but she really did need help cleaning out the basement!!!

Thank you, Mr. Assange & wikileaks.

Visa, I was about to be sympathetic, but then I read this…

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I want to make it clear that, although I support Wikileak’s and their mission, I in NO WAY condone attacks against anyone in their name. That is just as bad as what is being done to Wikileaks; the attackers are just as bad as the repressive organizations they hate.

Dec. 8th NYTimes Lede blog>

β€˜Operation Payback’ Attacks Fell Visa.com

By ROBERT MACKEY

I started reading this article with the thought “now they’ve gone too far. Is this the world we really want?”. However,Β  as I read further, I became more & more disturbed at actions taken by multinational corporations, such as Visa, who have targeted smaller companies they believe (or know) support Wikileaks.

Visa, now you’ve gone too far!

Once a company starts involving itself in international politics – especially in an arena where it should (theoretically) have no particular interest. After all, aren’t they the ones who want to be accepted everywhere?? Why are they now rummaging through their filesΒ  & spending time threatening businesses – who are using their service & making them money? How far does this go, and where does it stop?

Money police?

Visa & MC have set up a virtual global monopoly on money transfe r, along with eBay‘s more evil twin, PayPotty. They are throwing their collective weight around, in an attempt to shut down an organization that some governments don’t like. (OK, hate, despise, fear, etc) Who’s tail is wagging these big dogs? Or are they the tail?

Here are a few of the key paragraphs from the blog that, shall I say, pissed me off?(my bold)

The move against Visa comes after a Web services company in Iceland, DataCell.com, which has supported WikiLeaks and still hosts a Web page facilitating donations to the organization, complained that the credit card company had tried to force it to stop working for the non-profit media site… the company also hosts the Web site Wikileaks.ch.

…Mr. Sigurvinsson told Iceland’s national broadcaster RUV that β€œhe finds Visa and MasterCard’ s request that DataCell stop serving WikiLeaks highly distasteful, asking what business two private companies have dictating terms to another private company.” He added, β€œIt is clear that they will never close WikiLeaks except by taking the whole Internet down.

The chief executive of DataCell, Andreas Fink, explained in a statement that his company has been operating β€œa payment gateway so people can donate” to WikiLeaks for two months. On Tuesday, Mr. Fink said that Visa had asked DataCell to stop accepting payment details from Visa cardholders who wanted to donate money to WikiLeaks. The company declined to do so, because, Mr. Fink explained:

After discussions with our lawyers, we have decided that we can not honor such requests based on the pure simple fact of untrue and unverified accusations.

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship and/or limitation. The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law. Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law. (US courts can’t argue with this, now that they’ve pronounced corporations “people” in terms of $ = free speech)

It is simply ridiculous to even think WikiLeaks has done anything criminal. If WikiLeaks is criminal, then CNN, and BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and many others would have to be considered criminals too as they publish the same information. Nobody even tries to touch them though. You can still buy a New York Times subscription and pay with your credit card I guess.

On Wednesday, Mr. Fink added an update to his statement, in which he said that Visa and MasterCard had stopped processing all online payments facilitated by DataCell, affecting up to 3,000 clients, apparently to ensure that no money would make it to WikiLeaks. Mr Fink added that his company was taking β€œimmediate legal actions to make donations possible again.”

He also wrote:

The suspension of payments towards WikiLeaks is a violation of the agreements with [Visa’s] customers. Visa users have explicitly expressed their will to send their donations to WikiLeaks and Visa is not fulfilling this wish. It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur. Visa customers are contacting us in masses to confirm that they really donate and they are not happy about Visa rejecting them. It is obvious that Visa is under political pressure to close us down. We strongly believe a world class company such as Visa should not get involved by politics and just simply do their business where they are good at. Transferring money.Β  They have no problem transferring money for other businesses such as gambling sites, pornography services and the like so why a donation to a Web site which is holding up for human rights should be morally any worse than that is outside of my understanding….

This is not about the brand of Visa, this is about politics and Visa should not be involved in this.

I knew there has to be more than one reason I don’t use credit cards… besides keeping out of debt & out of their great greasy paws….