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Thursday, December 29, 2005  

Comic of the day

posted by Gary Williams at 12:08 PM | link |

via Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters

Women Now Outnumber Net Men

'There are now more American women than men using the Internet, according to a new study from the Pew Center on the Internet and American Life on gender and use of the Net. While a slightly larger percentage of men than women are online (68 percent vs 66 percent), the larger population of American women tips the balance. Other findings: younger women and black women outpace their male peers by larger margins than the wider population.'

posted by Gary Williams at 9:20 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 28, 2005  

via The Register

NSA involved in snooping cookie shocker

By Ashlee Vance in Mountain View
Published Thursday 29th December 2005 01:26 GMT

Holy global eavesdropping network, Batman! The NSA has - or rather had - cookies on its web site.

Daniel Brandt - he of Google watching and Wikipedia fiddling fame - discovered a pair of cookies lurking on the NSA's (National Security Agency) web site. The cookies were set to expire in 2035 and could be used to track your online activity. That's a big no-no under federal rules that forbid the use of most persistent cookies.
Click Here

The NSA removed the cookies after Brandt brought the issue to the agency's attention and after the AP started asking questions.

'After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies,' NSA spokesman Don Weber, told the news service.

Government agencies can use cookies of the non-persistent variety but are discouraged from keeping an ongoing watch on citizens.

The NSA? Cookies?

We know, we know. You're shocked.

In the context of the NSA's constant global monitoring of communications and more recent wiretapping flap, a couple of cookies hardly seem like a big deal. And, in fact, they're probably not. The NSA has played off the appearance of the cookies as an accident. A software upgrade allowed the nasty, persistent buggers to sneak on the web site.

As Brandt points out, however, there are no exceptions in federal guidelines for 'accidental' snooping.

Or so we think. It seems that just about anything goes these days.

As Ty Webb once remarked, 'This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia.' ?

posted by Gary Williams at 10:16 PM | link |

Tuesday, December 27, 2005  

via seattlepi,nws

Take an extra second this year to reflect on 2005


If 2005 is disappearing too fast for you, just hold on for a second, because this year you have an extra second to pause and reflect on the year before the ball drops and the calendar flips New Year's Eve.

Yep, it's a leap second moment, one of those rare occasions when clocks around the world take a stutter step in order to conform with the Earth's wobbly, gradually slowing spin.

But don't count on having many extra moments in the future, because there's a movement in the telecommunications field to do away with leap seconds as early as 2007.

In a 24/7 world, leap seconds that adjust the timekeeping of atomic clocks to the time based on the rising and setting of the sun are viewed by many technocrats as a nuisance.

Atomic time, based on the radiation frequency of the cesium-133 atom, has been around since the 1950s. Timekeeping based on the Earth's rotation goes back thousands of years.

The trouble is, atomic clocks are so accurate that they can go for 3 million years without losing a second. Earth's rotation, it turns out, is somewhat less reliable.

When international agreement was reached on Co-coordinated Universal Time in 1972, scientists figured that regular leap seconds would need to be added every 18 months to keep the two systems in sync.

Instead, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service in Frankfurt, Germany, has had to request only 22 leap seconds, coming on either June 30 or Dec. 31, since 1972. Scientists expect the slowing of the rotation will increase over thousands of years, requiring even more frequent corrections to atomic time.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:20 AM | link |

Monday, December 26, 2005  


Anna Nicole to get boost from Bush in court case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith has an unusual bedfellow in the Supreme Court fight over her late husband's fortune: the Bush administration.

The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer filed arguments on Smith's behalf and wants to take part when the case is argued before the justices.

The court will decide early next year whether to let the U.S. solicitor general share time with Smith's attorney during the one hour argument on Feb. 28.

Smith, a television reality star and native Texan, plans to attend the court argument.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:56 PM | link |


Judge blocks ban on sale of violent video games to minors

Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sacramento -- A federal judge blocked on Thursday a new California law that would have banned the sale of violent video games to minors.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had signed the bill by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, to ban the sale or rental of especially violent video games to children under 18 years old unless there is parental approval. The law was to take effect Jan. 1.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from going into effect, saying the video game industry, which sued to overturn the law, showed that it had a reasonable chance of winning its case based on the argument that the law violates the First Amendment rights of minors.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:31 PM | link |

Sunday, December 25, 2005  

Merry Christmas

posted by Gary Williams at 3:06 PM | link |

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