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Journal Journal: Lets rape before the world is over!

In that editorial of, some concerns are exposed about the "fairness" of US legal system, related to how it solved the Microsoft trial, the SCO threat and the possibility of linux being declared (again) un-american.

But the more intesting part was the comparation on how the US legal system penalizes piracy and rape.For duplicating and selling DVDs you will get twice the prision time and 25 times in fines than what you could get for raping.

This will damage even more the classic "geek" image, that could prefer to copy a dvd at a higher risks than, god forbids, get a woman in a way or another.

Jokes apart, i suppose that a lawyer could find more clever examples where Law is more far from Justice or Moral than in this one, or what happens when in the Justice scales you put a bunch of money on one of the sides, but at least for me that this kind of things happens is pretty bad.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Online Colaboration vs. Tikiwiki 1

Today i made this comment about online collaboration, related to weblogs, comments and slashdot.

There i put 3 of the most common ways of collaborating thru web: blogs (or announcements, or news, they behave in a similar way), discussion forums and wiki (well, in fact pages about something, wiki enables a common way to collaborate on them but could be others). One of the things i liked about TikiWiki is that it provides all those ways, and some more (i.e. in drawings, or in tabular data, etc).

But what i miss is alternatives. Is a need that must be filled, and for now is the main tool that try to consolidate all those online collaboration ways, at least giving the surrounding tools that it implies (i.e. security to be able to define where the collaboration could occur and with who, or an unified way to see whats happening on the site, etc). The only alternative i'm aware of is TikiPro that is a fork from TikiWiki.

Of course, i could not looking in the right direction. Existing CMSs (i.e. probably Typo3 have all the individual tools) could have ways to edit "static" content (like in wiki), have a way to publish news (like in a blog) and have forums, but the examples i briefly saw not reached the needed integration between them and maybe other ways to collaborate, not only in a small team but potentially the internet as a whole, and with no training required (that should exclude Typo3 :). Maybe there are alternatives that if well they don't look like Tiki, they enables all those kinds of collaboration in a easy way and with some security, but in any case, still not found them and is a need.

Of course, i'm not saying that TikiWiki is bad (in fact is pretty good), but what is good is diversity, different approachs to similar tasks, new points of view, and for now there is none.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Crop Circles

Remember the trailer of "Scary Movie 3"? There was the explanation of crop circles... an arrow to the house with a legend saying "attack here!".

The MyDoom virus avalanche make me remember that scene... some clueless window user is having in a very visible corn field the "attack here" message, and even they put it on tv to be sure that no alien (well, for the analogy, call them crackers, spammers, scriptkiddies, etc) is unaware of it, in a world when is certain that aliens exist (for more evidence, check server log files, or even the amount of spam in your inbox).

And the hidden question, how to "fix" the problem, how to make in short term that users be aware of that behaviour, and an a long term, that they not do that again?

The short term problem could be or not very hard. Maybe an antiworm like the one that appeared with codered/nimda could be made, when the server/user gets a mail with the virus, it try to connect to the infected machine (the one listed in the last "Received" line) using the backdoor that the virus install and uninstall the virus or upload some text info to the user desktop. The main problem with this is first moral, and if the code to use the virus backdoor is widely known those computers will not only be warned, surely will be hacked. But ,anyway, I think that giving the amount of mail traffic the virus is already having, that risk would be acceptable.

The long term solution is a bit harder. Mail worms exist since last century, but users still have no clue on how to behave with them. How much damage should to this or any future massively spread mail worm to take government, legislation, etc to try to stop from the root the problem giving the red card to the use of Microsoft Products, Outlook or similar? Just hope that that kind of measures don't limit freedom for the well behaved internet users (you know, those that change freedom for security dont deserve any of both or something like that).

User Journal

Journal Journal: War: reasons given before vs. realities after

Now that the war is over, is interesting to compare what was claimed to be the justifications to do the war before it, and what really we have now.
  • WMD:
    • Before: Iraq have WMD, plenty of them, and they plan to use them agains US. We have proof of all of this, but we show them only to few peoples.
    • After: No WMD were found. Not even a mass scale searching was done. The only unauthorized weapon found in inspections was long range missiles, and the one that was sucessfully used during the war agains Kuwait did a minor harm, not contained chemical nor biological threats.
  • Kill Saddam:
    • Before: Saddam was the entire goal of the war. US will not even start the war if Saddam gets killed. They wanted to do a surgical attack to only kill Saddam and go out of Iraq
    • After: After taking Bagdad they lost interest on Saddam, assumed that it was killed after bombing his bunker and stoping searching for him, even if there are rumors, videos, etc that points that he is alive. After Bagdad was taken, and Saddam was assumed dead, they continued to attack the remaining cities of Iraq.
  • Combating Terrorism: no ties on international terrorism, Al-qaeda, etc, were found nor being even proved, either before or after the war.
  • Promotion of Democracy:
    • Before: We will free the Iraquis from a despotic/criminal/etc government. We will give them Democracy. We are the leaders of the free world.
    • After: they give them Anarchy. They feel that they (not the iraqis) have the rigth to decide who can be candidate and who not. American "freedom" is more like corporate freedom, and individuals (or satellite countries) are getting less rights and freedoms as time goes. And... assuming and saying that another culture and maybe way of thinking want our way of government is like saying that all Poland wanted to have a Nazi government
  • Geneva convention:
    • During the war: Iraqi forces showed US soldiers taken prisioners on TV, that violates Geneva Convention, cried all high level US politics.
    • Since more than a year ago: "Al-Qaeda" prisioners held in Guantanamo were shown in TV a lot of times, and they have there a lot of people under the 16 age, probably a lot of children there.
  • Rescue the Iraqi people:
    • Before: we do this for the Iraqis
    • After: the top priorities were to make sure that the oil wells are ok. One of the first things that was done after the war is over is to cut an oil line that sended oil to Syria. US soldiers did nothing to protect 7000 years old archeological treasures, and stolen pieces there were found in USA days after.
  • Iraq has ignored the UN resolution: UN also says that the war should not be started, and US ignored it, damaging more the UN credibility and maybe existence than Iraq
  • Only to Iraq:
    • Before: We are attacking only to Iraq. We are only against Saddam Hussein.
    • After: We don't know in how many months or days, but the days of Syria , Iran, or North Korea (or all of them) are counted. And even France will face consecuences.

Maybe this shows a little better what could have been the real reasons of this war.

When I have to give a reason to a newbie on why not buy anything from spammers, I only have to point that the spammer evidently is a liar (forged mail address), a thief (stole bandwidth, and resources from the people that he used as open relay) and have not respect for the end user (being spammed without asking is a start), so it should not to be trusted at all. Now, we see that US government, in relation with this war also lied, also have not respect for the intelligence of US citizens nor for UN, for the human rights, for the people that they say that are protecting, and for the human life. Maybe all this war was an act of thief (a violent one, killing a lot of soldiers, civilians, giving chaos to a country that, well or bad, don't had it) and all could be for oil, not justice

United States

Journal Journal: War on perspective...

A lot of things should have been said and linked till now, but sometimes you find refreshing ways to put points of view about this war.

Terry Jones , from Monty Python, wrote some letters to the London Observer on this themes. This letter in special could the the start of a revolution (is right with Bush did? could we all do the same? this put a bit of perspective on things), but there is more from here to here. All of this is in fact previous to the start of the war, wonder what he could be thinking now, but as a friend send me the link just today, well, I wanted to share my fun .)

More locally for my country (.uy=Uruguay, and don't bring back that old Simsons joke :), when the war started a newspaper here put in their frontpage in big letters "Hitler invades Iraq". I'm not exactly friend of this newspaper, not want to defend it, but, well, this title make the day for a lot of people here. The same day or the next a letter from the American Embassy was made public complaining "a bit" on this newspaper, and a few days ago the newspaper published the editor's response (sorry, in spanish, babelfish and google refused to fully translate it) to the letter, fundamenting why he thinks on Bush in such terms. Is a bit excesive and shows the way of thinking that I hate about the newspaper, but for one time I agree with most of what he says.


Journal Journal: Spam 4

I don't receive a big amount of spam (only 20-40 daily), but even in that numbers is annoying.

With the years I changed whay I do to be less worried with it, like putting filters that moves to a temporary folder what don't have specifically my address in the to: or cc: headers, with more or less success (at least when I checked that folder I knew that most will be spam and only tried to determine what would be for me but don't had my address in the headers. Anyway, after I lost some emails I discarded that "solution".

For a time I used Brightmail, but had the problem that I have to download my mails from them, and they acted as a bridge with my ISP mail server. By then my speed (normal modem), my ISP speed (256kbps?) and even my country internet connection speed (few Mbps) makes this process something very slow, effective (few false positives and negatives, but catched most of the spam), but very slow, so when they started to charge for the service I simply don't subscribed to it.

In some moment I decided that this was not enough, learned about SpamCop, and start reporting spam to them, as a try to lower the amount of spammers, maybe not the proffessionals, but at least the beginners that don't understand why is bad. This in fact makes spam to give me more job than before, I have to determine when a message is spam, forward it to spamcop, then follow the link in the spamcop reply and confirm the reports that would be sended, but gived me the feeling that I was doing something about the problem itself, not just minimizing the effects on me. There are tools to automatize a bit spamcop, the first one subscribing to it :), but there is spamcup that could do the spam confirmation part automatically, procmail recipes to forward spam to spamcop, and so on.

But things are not so perfect with Spamcop. First, that spam actually increased since I'm using it. Is not spamcop fault, spam increased everywhere, but gived me the feeling that I was doing some kind of evolutive action on spammers, forcing them to be even nastier than before. Also I noted that, because new (or maybe not so new) ways to send spam, the reports usually don't go to the administrator of the site where the spammer have the email or site (I know about forged headers, I'm not talking about the poor guy that was put in the "From" line), but only to the administrator of the open relay. And third, because is so much reporting without lowering the actual spam I receive.

Spamcop tries to lower the amount of spammers, but what about my mailboxes? There are a lot of ways to filter spam, some more intelligent or effective to others, but most required changes in my mail configuration (I could have used fetchmail+procmail, but as I read also my mail from work a truly automatized solution could give me problems, so I'm still downloading mail with my mail client directly from my ISP mail server). I was very tempted to do the move when I hear about the results of using SpamAssassin and was tempted also by a lot of new approachs to the problem (TMDA, Vipul Razor and more), but the moment I was more close to do the change was when the revolution started with the article "A Plan for Spam" and started to see results and implementations based in this bayesian filtering.

Well, time and job matters also, so I took my time to do the change, and by the time I was to do it I found an approach that will minimize the impact on my current way to use mail: POPFile. It is "simply" a pop3 proxy server with a bayesian mail classification engine and a web based administration, written in Perl. As is runs in my box, I don't have extra delays while the mail travels from my ISP to where the classification is done and then to my computer, and also I just have to change where is my mail server and my username in the mail client configuration and is running. Also have the good surprise that it actually is a bit more tweaked than "normal" bayesian spam filters, so w r i t t i n g w/o/r/d/s with html comments and more modifications that don't put a serious obstacle for reading, but yes for bayesian filtering will be bypassed, and other countermeasures for the latest spammers tricks to avoid this kind of filtering.

I'm actually using it. I defined classes for mailing lists, for virus reports (my ISP have virus filtering, what saved me of maybe Gb of useless mails), for nigeria-like scams, for spamcop reports, and of course, for spam and real mail. Have in my desktop an icon to go to the web interface to change the unusual misclassifications that it do (since my last restart of statistics, it classified 3200 mails, with 75 errors, and almost none of them was a classification as spam other kind of mails... the only cases were when something sended me web pages by mail instead of links).

It could get better, of course, I could do finally the migration to having my own mail server in my computer, or using a fetchmail/procmail scheme to use spamassassin or others to increase a bit the spam detection and elimination. But using popfile at a mailserver level is not possible, as a start, using it in a multiuser way is not very recomended, its administrative web interface, needed for configuration, training and avoid propagating mistakes, well, is very open, you can see all the mails that passed thru it, and if well, you can avoid connection from other computers, there will be a person that could or must see the mail from all others.

I think that I saw out there some bayesian based spam filters that permits, by mail, to make corrections on classifications, but I don't know how easy and comfortable to use would be that kind of things, specially for the initial training. But watching at freshmeat I read something very nice... you can use SpamAssassin to train Bogofilter, and I think that this almost finished to close the circle, the only needed could be some easy way to inform bogofilter that a previously classified spam is not (that I think will be rarely used by the combination of spamassassin with bogofilter), and the "learning by mistakes" part of the bayesian filtering will be done, and this kind of things could be installed at large at ISPs.

Of course, this will not solve the spam problem, spamcop, laws, a new kind of mail system, a more effective way to close open relays, etc, all of this is needed. But if spam delivery becomes massively unreliable a lot of people will think on stopping to do it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: War 1

I'm normally not interested in political, military or even other countries matters, but things are getting worse last times.

Seems tha the Bush family was very angry with Saddam Hussein and used they a bit influential position to move all the world in a war to solve that problem.

For this, they alleged that Iraq has a lot of mass destruction weapons ready to overtake the entire "free" world, that they will give the weapons to terrorists, that they eat children and they have all their population under slavery, so they must be stopped with a large scale war.

Now, after the UN inspectors, almost no weapons that could be calified as for mass destruction (more than weapons that could reach long distances) has been found, and the "dangerous" ones were destroyed, but even with this, the war started, against a almost unarmed country, risking the lives of several millons of peoples that "want" to be freed.

Now, what will happen if no mass destruction weapons are used by iraq (the alleged reason for the war) nor found (or is not clear if the ones that they possible find in an hipotetical future are planted by US forces), what if the alleged reason for the war proved or is in doubt that it was valid?

What changes in the world could this make? I suppose that the media could manage to give the world the impression that US was right, that this had to be done, showing only happy people in Iraq, showing fake or planted nuclear, chemical, biological or whatever weapons that the public opinion could want to see, but for the ones not impressed by the things that the media could show.

For a start, I could see an increased hostility to Bush in particular and US in general. If the wining of the war gives Bush popularity inside their country, then a reelection will be almost sure, and things will only grow worse. If US do this with impunity, they could do this again. As I said here, half joking, half talking seriusly, truth can be manipulated to justify the attack to more countries, north corea, pakistan, cuba, china, other non "democratic" countries, etc.

Once you say that you are doing war in the name of peace and attack before the other could attack you, you can do anything

In my country a newspaper on what I don't have a good opinion put in their front page "Hitler invades Irak". In World War II Hitler started invading countries saying that in the country there was nazis wanting to be freed, not so far from current situation (maybe we won't have mass killing of muslims, but, who knows, by now anything look possible). I know that this comparisions could make a lot of people angry, but saying "i'm not like that" and doing almost the same things not helps avoiding this kind of things.

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