VW files complaint against makers of "suicide bomber" ad (from: Xeni Jardin)

Xeni Jardin: Volkswagen has filed criminal charges against the makers of a viral video which has been circulating online in recent weeks. In the ad, a hapless suicide car-bomber blows himself up -- but leaves his VW Polo intact.
Britain's Media Guardian magazine reported the 20-second spot was produced by a London-based advertising duo known as Lee and Dan, who were given 40,000 British pounds, $75,000, and access to the lastest Polo model to do the shoot. The two apologized for offending people but refused to identify themselves. Reuters noted that under German law, charges can be filed against unknown persons, obliging authorities to track down the perpetrators.

The ad – which plays on the VW Polo's tagline "small but tough" – shows a man in fatigues and a Middle Eastern keffiyeh getting in his Polo and driving to the front of a sidewalk cafe. Still in the driver's seat, he detonates a bomb belt. A flash appears inside the car, but the vehicle does not explode. Then comes the strapline: "Polo. Small but tough."

In a statement, Lee and Dan said, "The ad got out accidentally and has spread like wildfire. It wasn't meant for public consumption. We think the spot reflects what people see in the news everyday, and in this instance the car is the hero that protects innocent people from someone with very bad intentions. We're sorry if the ad has caused any offense."

Link to news story, link to clip. (Thanks, Shawn)

Ed Emberly products (from: Mark Frauenfelder)

Mark Frauenfelder: Hotch-Potch Img10181073154My seven-year-old daughter and I love sitting at the kitchen table with crayons, paper, and our stack of Ed Emberly how-to-draw books. The creatures he composes from simple shapes are so happy and delightful, and they serve as a great reminder for me to keep things as simple as possible when I do an illustration.

I can't find any information about him on Google. I don't even know if he's still alive. But I did find this Japanese site that sells products with Emberly's drawings on them. I wonder if these are available in the US? Leave it to the Japanese to recognize this American (?) artist's genius. Link

UPDATE: He lives! Here's his site: Link (Thanks, Robin the librarian!)

Exeem without the adware (from: Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow:If you want to play with eXeem, the distributed, MPAA-proofed BitTorrent aggregator, but don't want to acquire lots of adware and crapware, give Exeemlite a try. From the Infoanarchy post:
Exeemlite client is out. It removes the adware, but is a version behind the latest eXeem release. The latest release is out of private beta, but on the surface of it, the current version of exelite is not. Not to fear. Just close the popup asking for a serial, and off you go (ie. requiring the serial feature has been neutered, along with the adware.)

Note that you can manually unistall the adware from the latest oficial release, but when you restart eXeem, it _helpfuly_ reinstalls the adware (cydoor I think...)


Geneva under a thick blanket of ice -- CORRECTED (from: Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow:Geneva's been hit hard by a massive ice-storm that's left the city covered in thick ice. These photos of ice-crusted benches, boats, cars and so on are striking -- and chilling. I'm going there next week, so I'm praying for a thaw.Link(Thanks, Singularity!)

Correction Eric sez, "Please note that the photos of ice in Geneva on boingboing are due towater spray from the lake, not because of an "ice storm". If you lookat more of the photos you will see that everything covered with ice isright next to the lake shore. If you look closely at some of the photos there are houses in thebackground that are free of ice."

Details on cracking Apple's iTunes DRM (from: Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow:FutureProof is the pseudonym of the maintainer of Jhymn, a program that breaks the DRM in Apple's iTunes, allowing you to play your iTunes music back on all your devices, not just the limited number that Apple permits. Today, OSDir has a long interview with him in which he thoroughly discusses the means by which Apple iTunes songs can be decrypted without Apple's permission.
FP: In a protected file, the "mp4a" atom -- part of a standard AAC file -- is replaced by a non-standard, proprietary "drms" atom. This contains the same basic information about a song as the "mp4a" atom, plus the identity of the purchaser and some of the cryptographic information needed to decrypt the music. The actual decryption key needed to decrypt the music is not stored here, however,but merely an indicator as to which key -- among many possible keys -- assigned to a particular user should be used.

Once you have found the needed key, you apply that key, using AES decryption, to the data in the "mdat" atom, which, in an unprotected file, contains all of the raw AAC audio sample data.

Apart from this, there are various atoms added beyond what you'd find in an unprotected AAC file, such as an "apID" atom, which marks music files with the iTunes Music Store ID of the purchaser.

Link(Thanks, Steve!)

Outstanding tips for community moderation (from: Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow:Teresa Nielsen Hayden is the single most astute online community moderator I have ever met, a shoo-in for author of a MODERATOR HACKS book, should such a thing ever come into being. She has written out a wonderful list of 13 tips on moderating online communities that are really sensible and really useful:
1. There can be no ongoing discourse without some degree of moderation, if only to kill off the hardcore trolls. It takes rather more moderation than that to create a complex, nuanced, civil discourse. If you want that to happen, you have to give of yourself. Providing the space but not tending the conversation is like expecting that your front yard will automatically turn itself into a garden.

2. Once you have a well-established online conversation space, with enough regulars to explain the local mores to newcomers, they’ll do a lot of the policing themselves.

3. You own the space. You host the conversation. You don’t own the community. Respect their needs. For instance, if you’re going away for a while, don’t shut down your comment area. Give them an open thread to play with, so they’ll still be there when you get back.

4. Message persistence rewards people who write good comments.

5. Over-specific rules are an invitation to people who get off on gaming the system.


Performance Monitoring on VMWare ESX (from: Phil Windley's Technometria)

I met with a Systems Engineer from VMWare this afternoon. Some of mystudents are working on a performance study of VMWare and so I took theopportunity to pick his brain on how to get performance data from theserver. There are two levels that you need to gather data: the virtualmachine and the host machine. Here's what I found out:

perfmon gives good data for everything but the CPU on the virtualmachines. Because the host machine is running ESX (a modified Linuxkernel) you can't directly run perfmon. For the host machineitself, there are several options:

  • VM VirtualCenter gives usage data, but the default polling interval isfive minutes. This isn't fast enough. The polling interval can bereduced, although I still have questions whether or not we can create
  • esxtop is a special version of top that can run on thehost machine.
  • vmkusage is an HTTP accessible program that gives host andvirtual machine usage data.

Another question I've had is about resource constraints. We bought boxesthat were maxed out in CPUs and memory. We're concerned that we'll runinto network bottlenecks. I've known that we can buy a quad NIC andassign ports, but I didn't know that ESX will gang the quad NICs togetherand let do resource allocation to the virtual machines.

We also talked about using VMWare in a disaster recovery situation.Because the virtual machines look like files, they can be backed-up. Thenyou can recover back-ups daily to an off-site VMWare host and in the eventof a disaster, be ready for a warm-start on the backed-up servers. You'rea day behind, but could be rolling in a matter of minutes.

Animation director improves Polar Express characters (from: Mark Frauenfelder)

Mark Frauenfelder:Polarkid Ward Jenkins is an animation director in Atlanta, GA. On his blog called, The Ward-O-Matic, he wrote a couple of lengthy posts about The Polar Express, in which he included some of his Photoshop tweaked fixes to the famously zombie-like characters in the movie. He says that folks from Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, Vinton Studios, and other sites are commenting on his work.Link

TSA's list of items you can and can't take on a plane (from: Mark Frauenfelder)

Mark Frauenfelder:Picture 1-4I like to bring nail clippers with me when I fly, because it drives me crazy when I get a hangnail and I don't have any way to clip it off. I usually end up ripping it off, which hurts.

On two occasions, TSA employees at the airport security screening area have taken my nail clippers away. They were ordinary nail clippers, no knives or scissors attached.

So I was surprised to see that nail clippers and nail files are not forbidden items, according to the TSA's own published list. You can also bring metal butter knives, knitting needles, blunt-tipped scissors, and toy weapons ("if not realistic replicas") in your unchecked baggage.

Maybe I'l bring a copy of this list with me the next time I travel. It might come in handy. Link

Museum of Sound (from: David Pescovitz)

David Pescovitz:The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent article a couple of weeks ago about the Smithsonian Institution's sound archives where the noises of yesteryear are collected:
Inside a bombproof vault a few blocks from the White House, Dan Sheehy is surrounded by audio ghosts: the clickety-clack of typewriters, the tumble of glass bottles inside a soda machine, a 1960s-era telephone ring.

Here, sonic blasts from the past are entombed in a hodgepodge of vinyl records, compact discs and reel-to-reel tapes. “We are a museum of sound,” said Sheehy, whose job is to preserve America’s acoustic heritage for an obscure branch of the Smithsonian Institution.

Sounds are like smells, he says. They can transport the listener to another time and place. The buzz of an airplane propeller sends Sheehy’s mind back to hot afternoons in 1950s Bakersfield, Calif., playing in the yard while aircraft sputtered overhead. “The sound immediately triggers memories of time and temperature,” he said.
The article inspired BB's own Mark Frauenfelder to dream up the notion of Slamtones, a mobile phone service that would deliver the "sound of slamming a phone down on the hook when you angrily end a call."

Link to LA Times article, Link to Mark's "Slamtones" journal entry at TheFeature

Companies that have fired people for blogging (from: Cory Doctorow)

Cory Doctorow:This page contains a list of companies that are purported to have fired employees for blogging.
1.) Delta Air Lines
2.) Wells Fargo
3.) Ragen MacKenzie
4.) Starbucks
5.) Microsoft (some say yay, some say nay)
6.) Friendster
7.) the Houston Chronicle
8.) the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
9.) Nunavut Tourism (Canada)
10.) the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, Harvard University
11.) Maricopa County Superior Court of Arizona Self Help Center and Library
12.) Mike DeWine, US Senator (R-Ohio)
13.) the Durham Herald-Sun
14.) Kerr-McGee
15.) ESPN
16.) Apple (according to this blog entry AND this article)
17.) Statistical Assessment Service (DC nonprofit)
18.) Minnesota Public Radio
19.) The Hartford Courant
20.) the International Olympic Committee (barred athletes from blogging during the Olympics last summer)
21.) Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (?)
22.) the National Basketball Association (NBA)
Link(via Apophenia)

Information routing (from: Jon's Radio)

Everybody processes a ton of email. And nowadays, some of us also process a ton of RSS feeds. In both cases, inbound items fall into three categories:

  1. Must be acted on immediately.

  2. Can be discarded.

  3. May be of future interest to ourselves, our colleagues, or others.

The third point is the tricky one. What do you do with an item you might need in the future? Option one: nothing. Rely on search to be able to find it again. That's been a poor option in the past, but a number of forces -- including Gmail, WinFS, and Apple's Spotlight -- aim to improve it.

Option two: tell someone else about it. Various motivations govern the impulse to send an FYI (for your interest) email to a group. Maybe you'll simply inform the group; maybe the group will act on something you can't; maybe the group will respond with information that's new and valuable to you. But the FYI email is a blunt instrument at best. It requires the sender to know, a priori, something that is unknowable -- namely, who should receive the alert.

Option three: tell your subscribers about it. In other words, blog it. That way, the self-selected group of people who subscribe to you will be alerted. And the search engines will ensure that everyone can find the item later. The problem here is that the item is not categorized unless...

Option four: blog it to a topic. Now people can subscribe to that specific category or topic. The problem here is that when you subdivide an individual blogger's output into topics, the flow for any specific topic will be thin.

Option five: blog it to a shared topic. This is what del.icio.us enables. It supports the operation "route item to topic," which is distinct from "send item to individual or group" or "post item to blog" or even "post item to blog topic."

It's hard to know how this notion of routing items to topics will evolve, but it feels interesting and useful. Suppose you are researching some topic, let's say Unicode. Today you're likely to start with a Google search, which will turn up some good resources. Where do you go from there? A likely next step is to identify bloggers who speak authoritatively about Unicode. But how do you construct a view of what those Unicode-savvy bloggers have said about Unicode, over time? And how do you subscribe to what they will say about Unicode? It's not easy to federate a group of sources with respect to a topic.

We can see the beginnings of a solution in del.icio.us. Here are all the items tagged 'unicode'. As I mentioned the other day, that flow can easily become chaotic. But if you inspect a topic, you'll find that there's a kind of power law in effect: a few individuals will likely stand out as the most reliable contributors of valuable links. In the case of http://del.icio.us/tag/unicode, Patrick Hall (http://del.icio.us/patfm/unicode) seems to be one such person. Others will emerge.

The del.icio.us system doesn't yet explicitly support the union and intersection of sets of items routed to topics by authoritative sources, but it's pretty easy to do. (Hint: here is Patrick Hall's RSS feed for the Unicode topic.)

I've got a hunch some really interesting things are ready to happen in this space.

It helps enormously that purely selfish interest is a sufficient reason use del.icio.us. This sets up the virtuous cycle that Dan Bricklin has called "the cornucopia of the commons":

We've heard plenty about the tragedy of the commons --in fact,it pops up in several other chapters of this book. In the 1968 essaythat popularized the concept, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Garrett Hardin wrote:
Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compelshim to increase his herd without limit -- in a world that islimited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, eachpursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in thefreedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.
In the case of certain ingeniously planned services, we find acontrasting cornucopia of the commons: usebrings overflowing abundance. Peer-to-peer architectures andtechnologies may have their benefits, but I think the historicallesson is clear: concentrate on what you can get from users, and usewhatever protocol can maximize their voluntary contributions. Thatseems to be where the greatest promise lies for the new kinds ofcollaborative environments. [Dan Bricklin: Cornucopia of the Commons, Peer-to-Peer, Chapter 4]

So for example, as I process my daily RSS inflow in Bloglines, it's very much in my own interest to put the few items of most value in a place where I can find them later. That I'm also putting them someplace where you can find them, that you may be doing the same thing for me, that we may collectively move toward standardized use of shared topics as we iterate this process, that reputation-based filtering may then begin to operate on the emergent set of topics -- all this is goodness, and may ultimately matter, but my participation (and yours) does not depend on these outcomes. Pure self-interest is a sufficient driver.

To further my own self-interest in keeping track of things, I've made a minor extension1 to the del.icio.us bookmarklet, so that selected text on the target page is used for the (optional) extended description of the routed item. This makes the items I route easier for me to scan. And for you too. Of course if you did the same, the items you route would be easier for you to scan. And for me too.

1 Standard version:
javascript:location.href='http://del.icio.us/YOURNAME?url=' +escape(location.href) +'&title='+escape(document.title)

Modified version:
javascript:location.href='http://del.icio.us/YOURNAME?url='+escape(location.href) +'&title='+escape(document.title) +'&extended='+escape(document.getSelection())

To install the modified version, drag this link -- del.icio.us post -- to your toolbar. Then edit the properties of the bookmarklet, using whatever method your browser requires, and change YOURNAME to your del.icio.us username.

NORTHCOM reference-clearcube

Amos Auringer, senior SAIC here at NORTHCOM said that
Cheyenne used clearcube to resolve their roaming profile/fat client
compatibility issue. And that's about all that I understood. So, here is the web
site.  href="http://www.clearcube.com.  Let's">www.clearcube.com.   
Let's discuss if you think it interesting...I've also sent to others...


And I had a most INTERESTING day, sitting in on the final DP04 CSAM
(Commanders Situation Assessment Meeting, aka commander's morning brief.) Their
3 star, Gen'l Inge, Deputy Commander of NC was sitting in for 4 star. They are
quite efficient, but I was singularly transported back to PACAF 1989, when Gary
Ward (code 42) built a red/yellow/green stoplight ppt system for commanders'
updates. In other words, a component force view for relaying info has migrated
to joint level 15 years later. Very 1980's...However, their 4 star likes it that
way. Maj Clark, J623, of course, has a vision similar to ours and is building it
now...which by the way, is late and we will not see it for 2 more weeks.


I will sit in on hot wash ups tomorrow.


I have lots of notes...will talk to you on Friday...



Enterprise Library (from: eagle)

Enterprise Library

Enterprise Library is a major new release of the patterns & practices Application Blocks, which are reusable software components designed to assist developers with common enterprise development challenges. Enterprise Library 1.0 will bring together new releases of the most widely reusable blocks into a single integrated download.

The major themes of Enterprise Library are:

Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) - Port 1900

In XP, the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) discovery service
searches for Universal Plug and Play devices on your home network. SSDP searches
for upstream Internet gateways using UDP port 1900 - a potential security risk
many organizations will want to block. OK, you decide to block SSDP services but
to your surprise, your firewall and network sniffers continue to see the UDP
port 1900 packets. You have disabled XP's SSDP and even Universal Plug and Play
Device Host. Whats going on? This is Universal Plug and Play Network Address
Translation (NAT) traversal discovery used by Messenger. If you run a sniffer
trace, the following information is displayed in the data section of the packet:

SSDP: Uniform Resource
Identifier = *
SSDP: HTTP Protocol Version = HTTP/1.1
SSDP: Host =
SSDP: Search Target =
SSDP: Mandatory
Extension = "ssdp:discover"
SSDP: Maximum Wait = 3
XP's Windows
Messenger is attempting to communicate to an Internet host. To block Windows
Messenger's broadcasts:


Key: color=green>Software\Microsoft\DirectPlayNATHelp\DPNHUPnP

Name: UPnPMode


Value: 2 disabled
UPnPMode=2, Universal Plug and Play Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal
discovery does not occur.


Mind Mapping for Results (from: Eric Mack)

I've just finished the second of two delightful and informative web-conference calls with Nick Duffill of Gyronix. Nick and his associate have developed ResultManager - a powerful add-in to MindManager that allows it to be used as a visual project management tool. I must admit that I had initially looked at ResultManager as just a great collection support tool; however...