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Tue, 19 Oct 2004
  /internet  
Ad Blocking Improvements + Flash blocking

Grab my latest userContent.css to pick up the current state of the art in ad blocking. Installation directions here. Also with the directions is some new information on how to block Flash advertisements. Clean up your web surfing the easy way!

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Thu, 14 Oct 2004
  /internet  
Ad Blocking CSS instructions updated to include Thunderbird

Now you can block ads in your email as well. If you are using the Thunderbird email client, simply follow my instructions here to get rid of pesky ads in your email.

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Sat, 09 Oct 2004
  /internet  
Capital Radio: Best Oldies Music on the Net

Looking for a good Oldies internet music station? Capital Radio is way out in front of the rest. You can find them in the 70's/80's section of your iTunes Radio listings, or you can go to their website and click on the listen link.

The station plays 50's through 80's. The best aspect (aside from being commercial free) is that the playlist stresses the songs that aren't played by those other oldies stations. You are much more likely to hear Elvis's Guitar Man than Heartbreak Hotel.

I have no financial interest in Capital Radio, just sharing the love for my favorite station.

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Sun, 04 Jul 2004
  /programming  
Safari css improvements

Safari now correctly runs my goofy dynamic html retro screensaver demo.

Safari version: 1.2.2 (v125.8)

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Tue, 13 Apr 2004
  /politics/usa  
Cutting taxes, non-Republican style

Tax season is here, and I just did mine. Along the way I came across a table of the tax rates for 2002 and 2003, illustrating the Bush tax cut in action:

Single 2002 $0 to $6,000 10% $6,001 to $27,950 15% $27,951 to $67,700 27% $67,701 to $141,250 30% $141,251 to $307,050 35% $307,051 and up 38.6% Single 2003 $0 to $7,000 10% $7,001 to $28,400 15% $28,401 to $68,800 25% $68,801 to $143,500 28% $143,501 to $311,950 33% $311,951 and up 35%
Not only does the cut benefit the wealthy on an absolute dollar amount, but even on a percentage basis! The wealthy get 3.6% off, the middle class 2%, and the poor zippo.

Many pundits have commented that tax cuts must benefit the wealthy disproportionately no matter how you engineer it, but it's easy to put the lie to that. Just raise the standard deduction. The wealthy do not use the standard deduction, because they itemize mortgage interest, investment losses, yada yada yada. Only those at the bottom of the tax food chain are using the standard deduction. Want to cut taxes for them? Raise the standard deduction $10000. As an added benefit, you will reduce tax fraud. The higher the standard deduction, the fewer folks will itemize. Less itemization = less fraud.

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Mon, 15 Mar 2004
  /internet  
Never Metadata He Didn't Like

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has written a letter meant to put the heat on the P2P providers. Or has he? In the metadata of the email a "stevensonv" is present as an author.

Vans Stevenson is the Senior VP for state legislative affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The MPAA denies writing the letter.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2004
  /politics/usa  
Rock the Vote

Like many Californians, I voted today.  I knew something was up when instead of handing me a ballot, I found a smart card in my hand.  Turning around, there they were:  the new voting machines,  little touchscreen terminals with small privacy flaps on the sides.

Going through the touchscreens was clearer than finding the tiny numbered punch holes on the old style ballots.  At the end there was a summary screen showing how I had voted.  I had left some votes blank and it told me, giving me an opportunity to go back.  I was much more certain that I had expressed my intentions correctly then I ever had been with the punch ballot.

But I am far less certain that my vote is being recorded correctly.  In the end all I have is glowing screen.  Before I had a physical token, the punch ballot, that could be reviewed by me before submission, counted and recounted by machine and by hand.  Now I have nothing.  We will never know if my vote was recorded properly.

Let's get the voting process back to the stone age, where it belongs.  We'll put the votes on stone tablets.  Rock the vote.

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Mon, 16 Feb 2004
  /internet  
Amazon Outs Reviewers

Check out these stories (New York Times, Guardian Unlimited) on how Amazon accidentally revealed the real identities of book review authors in the Amazon store.  It's an amusing example of the privacy risks and the spoofing risks of anonymous commentary on the net.

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Fri, 21 Nov 2003
  /technology  
Voting Machines, Technology, and Confidence

Dan Gilmore has commented on Dennis Kucinich's criticisms of voting machine manufacturer Diebold.

Voting transparancy seems to be a big issue with Kucinich. It's great that someone is talking about this.

People look at the Florida 2000 situation and think technology is the answer. And certainly technology can help. A touch screen can be a more accessible mechanism for chosing from a menu of choices than a punch ballot in small print.

But there is a big difference between clarity in voting, and confidence in voting. You may be more sure you chose who you meant to choose, but how certain are you that your choice was properly counted?

I think our first steps towards introducing more technology into voting should be to address clarity for the user.

But for voter confidence we should still have physical tokens generated by the voting process. These tokens should be able to be examined by the voter at the poll. And of course they should be countable and recountable by hand and by machine.

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Wed, 19 Nov 2003
  /internet  
Fake Blogs

Check out these recent entries in my Apache log files:

217.73.164.106 - - [18/Nov/2003:00:30:21 -0800] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 7555 "http://www.kwlablog.com/" "MSIE 6.0"

217.73.164.106 - - [18/Nov/2003:18:50:45 -0800] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 7555 "http://www.jennifersblog.com/" "MSIE 6.0"

Both of these entries have a few interesting points. They are from the same ip address, which does not resolve to anything. They both report a user agent of "MSIE 6.0", which is not the actual user agent string of any version of IE. And they both point to fake blogs.

Neither of these sites has an actual link to my site. So the referrer strings are fake.

Looking up the domains reveals that both sites have a lot in common:
Domain Name: kwlablog.com

Name Servers
ns1.kwlablog.com
141.85.3.109

ns2.kwlablog.com
141.85.3.109

Domain Created: 11/8/2003
Domain Expires: 11/8/2004
Domain Name: jennifersblog.com

Name Servers
ns1.jennifersblog.com
141.85.3.106

ns2.jennifersblog.com
141.85.3.106

Domain Created: 11/8/2003
Domain Expires: 11/8/2004
But the sites have different names/addresses for Administrative, Billing, & Technical contacts.

Visiting the sites reveals that they have blog entries that are just links to news stories. And most of the other links on the sites (like the archives links) don't actually do anything.

What is the purpose of these fake blogs? And what is the purpose of scattering them around webserver logfiles in the form of referrer strings? Are these sites trying to take advantage of the recent trend to post referrer links within page content? Are they using this fact to try to boost their search engine pagerank by appearing in this generated page content?

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  /internet  
Referrer Spamming

I've found some blog entries on the referrer spamming I mention in the previous floppaganda post. You can find some good discussion at net warriors.org blog.

Check out these blog entries in particular: More Referrer Spamming, Referrer SPAM updates, Referrer Spamming, wrap up.

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Sun, 16 Nov 2003
  /general  
More Site Tinkering

I've expanded the discussion of ad blocking css on the home page, and tweaked the look of the entire site slightly. Next up is a Python starter project to do some simple Apache log file analysis.

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Sun, 09 Nov 2003
  /programming  
Ad Blocking Page Updated to include Safari

I now have instructions for using my ad blocking userContents.css with the Safari web browser from Apple. Find the updated instructions here.

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Fri, 07 Nov 2003
  /general  
Floppymoose to join A9

So much for lying in a beanbag wearing tighty whities and weilding a remote. I've decided to join the world of the employed once more. A9 looks like a great opportunity to learn a whole pile of new things and try to solve some fun problems. A9 is Amazon's search technology arm, spun off into a subsidiary down here in Palo Alto. There have been a few articles in the press already, even though A9 isn't really started yet.

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Sun, 05 Oct 2003
  /programming  
<lastbuilddate> goes 1.0

What's new: Now RFC 822 compliant date formatting is the default. You can go back to the old MoveableType style dating by setting:
my = 0;
Also perldoc style documentation has been added.

Known Issues: Plugins that provide their own entries routine and do not return the story files in the %files hash will cause lastbuilddate to find no date. In this circumstance lastbuilddate will not emit a field. To work around this, rename lastbuilddate so that it executes ahead of these plugins. For example, rename to 00lastbuilddate.

Download lastbuilddate here.

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Thu, 25 Sep 2003
  /politics/siliconValley  
San Jose Judge Rejects Blight Suit

One Monday, San Jose Judge Leslie Nichols rejected the suit brought by Elaine Evans against the San Jose Redevelopment Agency (SJRA) in an attempt to stop it's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI) activities. I attended the first half of the arguments in Superior Court on Monday morning.  The heart of the case was whether Evans had properly sought to bring her concerns to the redevelopment board.  In the end the city prevailed on that point, but not before I heard a few interesting bits along the way, including:

  • 5 members of the council wrote the other 5 members, before the public hearing, indicating that they were going to support the SNI plan.
  • Evans was at the public hearing and heard her concerns being addressed to the council by others.
  • The city's own report on the concerns raised by the public included the very issues Evans wanted addressed, namely that the blight designation process was being abused.
  • The city paid an outside agency over $300,000 to "justify" designating the area blighted.
The real problem seems to be a requirement that "blight" be found before redevelopment dollars can arrive.  These dollars come with a terrible string attached: eminent domain.   Once an area has been designated blighted the city has the power to take the land.

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Wed, 17 Sep 2003
  /programming  
floppaganda look updated

I continue to twiddle the look of floppaganda. It looks best on mozilla due to the use of rounded borders (which is a mozilla-only css feature), and it looks best on mac due to use of  Marker Felt and American Typewriter fonts. I'm investigating adding writeback and trackback features... stay tuned.

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