“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Technology

Wiki, Losing Contributors

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Saw this and thought it worth a read:

“Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is written entirely by volunteers and allows anyone to edit its entries, is losing contributors, its founder complained Thursday.

Speaking with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the website’s annual conference, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the nonprofit company that runs the site is scrambling to simplify editing procedures in an attempt to retain volunteers.

“We are not replenishing our ranks,” said Wales. “It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.”

Administrators of the Internet’s fifth most visited website are working to simplify the way users can contribute and edit material. “A lot of it is convoluted,” Wales said. “A lot of editorial guidelines … are impenetrable to new users.”

Wikipedia has more than 3 million entries but has been marred by subjective entries and pranks. Even so, Wikipedia cites studies that compare the website’s accuracy favorably to more conventional encyclopedias, while other studies give it lower marks.

Despite Wikipedia’s wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is “a 26-year-old geeky male” who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website. Other contributors leave because, 10 years after the website was launched, there are fewer new entries to add, he said. “

The comments at Slashdot are probably nearer the truth.

Written by modernityblog

06/08/2011 at 00:51

Twitter Vs. Unnamed Sportsman.

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Up front, I like Twitter, the ease of accessing masses of information appeals to me, plus the fact that the rich and powerful can’t exert their customary controls and are brought down to the ground by the free availability of Twitter, so the new court case against Twitter should prove very amusing.

Apparently, lawyers on behalf of a Premier league footballer have served an injunction on Twitter, Business Week reports:

“May 20 (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. and some of its users were sued by an entity known as “CTB” in London, according to a court filing.

While the document gave no details, CTB are the initials used by the court in a separate lawsuit to refer to an athlete who won an anonymity order banning the media from publishing stories about his alleged affair with a reality-television star.

The Twitter suit was filed May 18 at the High Court in London according to court records, and named as defendants the San Francisco-based company and “persons unknown responsible for the publication of information on the Twitter accounts” listed in confidential court documents.

A Twitter user on May 8 posted a series of messages claiming a number of U.K. celebrities had received so-called super-injunctions and made claims detailing the activities that the people had sought to keep out of the public eye.

Twitter didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment. Daniel Ingram-Fletcher, a spokesman for the law firm representing CTB, didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment.

The case is: CTB v. Twitter Inc., Persons Unknown, High Court of Justice (Queens Bench Division), HQ11X01814.”

I imagine within an hour or two we will know from tweets on Twitter who CTB is and what’s going on!

It all seems so self-defeating as it highlights these issues and people are naturally going to comment on them, on Twitter, again, leading to the Barbra Streisand effect.

I suppose lawyers love it, they will end up suing tens of thousands of people across the globe who use Twitter, or perhaps they will realise the futility of such actions? When will the legal profession, the rich and powerful finally catch up with technology?

(Hat tip: Index on Censorship)

Update 1: The Guardian has more.

Update 2: Heresy Corner posts on this topic:

“It’s not yet clear how Twitter will respond to the lawsuit. Their terms of service specify that “international users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content”, but the most notorious of the Twitter accounts listing alleged injunctions (@InjunctionSuper, which posted details of six supposed cases on 8th May and then went quiet) has not been taken down. The company is based in the United States and has little to fear from the English courts – although any assets they have in this country might be vulnerable.

In the short term, however, two things are clear. It is impossible for Twitter to delete all references to the alleged affair from their website. It has long since gone viral. It had gone viral even before the @InjunctionSuper account was set up, which is one reason why (unlike David Allen Green) I don’t think there are good grounds for saying that the account was a deliberate leak by someone in the know. (At least, if there are such grounds they do not lie in the content of the Tweets themselves, but rather in the immediate and disproportionate attention they attracted.) Predictably, the main result of today’s news on Twitter itself has been the proliferation of the name Giggs. Twitter, as a company, is powerless to shut this one down.

Secondly, there are now so many thousand “persons unknown” that they cannot all be sued, or even identified (the more likely intention). And even if CTB’s lawyers were able to track them all down and serve them with injunctions, the self-defeating effect would be to confirm the facts. Suspicion would become actual knowledge.

So how can Twitter satisfy the demands of the English courts – assuming, that is, that CTB’s case is found to have merit? The obvious way would be to block Twitter from the UK, putting it permanently out of the reach of British judges. It could happen. Already some US-based news and gossip sites, including National Enquirer, are unviewable in Britain without use of a proxy server, so alarmed are the publishers by English libel law. If CTB’s case succeeds, or inspires other, Twitter’s bosses might begin to see such a course of action as preferable to fighting costly legal battles on foreign soil. “

Update 3: The Guardian explains the Streisand effect: Secrecy in the digital age.

Update 4: TechCrunch is perplexed by the British legal system and I don’t blame them:

“We’ve been watching the British legal system turn itself into knots for the last couple of weeks, largely due to the ability of Twitter users to break just about any legal ‘super injunction’ a ‘celebrity’ (usually footballers) has on the reporting of their private life (usually affairs). So far so normal for Twitter. What’s a super injunction? It’s when someone rich (these things are very expensive) takes out an injunction on the press that not only stops them reporting something but also stops them reporting that the injunction even exists. That makes it ‘super’, which of course it is anything but.

But today the story took a new turn when it emerged that Twitter Inc. itself is being sued. Oh yes. They are going there.”

Update 5: David Allen Green blogs on it, carefully:

“It is important at this stage to be aware of what one cannot know for certain:

1. that the “CTB” is actually the same person as “CTB” in the recent privacy case (though it appears the same law firm is instructed);

2. what the claim is for in terms of law – is it a privacy claim or is it under some other form of law; and

3. what the remedy requested is – is it a damages claim or is it for disclosure by Twitter of third party information (for example the information of those who have used Twitter accounts to break – rather than repeat – allegations), or for something else.

As yet, we simply do not know.”

May and Technological Bits.

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I have neglected technological innovations for far too long, Linux Journal explains how to put that operating system on a fingernail or SD card.

Tiny Core has reached V3.6, give it a go. It’s not obvious and you do have to read the manual, but it will rejuvenate even the oldest machine, remember RTFM.

All of this wonderful hardware comes at a price:

“When the allegations were put to Foxconn by the Observer, manager Louis Woo confirmed that workers sometimes worked more than the statutory overtime limit to meet demand from western consumers, but claimed that all the extra hours were voluntary. Workers claim that, if they turn down excessive demands for overtime, they will be forced to rely on their basic wage: workers in Chengdu are paid only 1,350 yuan (£125) a month for a basic 48-hour week, equivalent to about 65p an hour.

The Wine development version has reached 1.3.19, go for it, install Linux, then Wine and forget M$ crap.

Oh, there is a new version of Ubuntu, 11.04 and here’s what you might do after installing it.

Don’t try this at home, How to install Burg boot loader in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. Might be worth a try instead of the awful Grub2.

Big companies and their power, Tethering apps ‘blocked’ in Android Market.

Some reviewers really like it, Xubuntu 11.04: Solid, Sleek, and Speedy.

This tutorial explains how to get out of Microsoft’s grasp, How to install Photoshop in Ubuntu and LinuxMint.

Not a bad idea, Firefox Sync.

Malware to watch out for, protect your phone too!

The idea of a USB sized computer is superb, it could seriously undercut expensive, useless hardware, but will meet resistance I am sure:

“David Braben, an UK game developer has created a tiny computer which is about the same size as an USB stick, should cost about $25 and it will ship with Ubuntu by default.

The USB computer is going to be used in teaching computer programming to children and will be distributed by a new charitable foundation called “Raspberry Pi Foundation” within the next 12 months. “

I am fond of Mint and so are others, Linux Mint 11 (Katya) Preview and Testing Version Released!

For those with a slightly less than technogical view of the world, the social implications of all of this, How Social Media Creates a Rough Draft of History.

Feeling musical? Use Linux.

Finally, always have Parted Magic 6.1 ready.

Written by modernityblog

09/05/2011 at 15:33

Not At The Oscars, But On Twitter.

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Those who really know me would be surprised to hear that I am not at the Oscars in Hollywood.

But I am on Twitter, instead !

And whilst I am not a film critic or much given to commenting on cultural issues, I would say that the King’s Speech is historically rather problematic.

Some about Edward VIII.

Written by modernityblog

28/02/2011 at 03:53

Bits And Watson.

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I am away for a few days, so I thought I would leave readers with something on Watson.

Watson is a computer system capable of answering general knowledge questions and was entered in the American quiz show, Jeopardy!

It won.

The background to Watson and what it could mean in the future is explained here.

This is a good video, where David Ferrucci provides a good overview into the topic:

Update 1: This paper is informative, Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project – AI Magazine [a PDF].

Update 2: I forgot to add that Watson is running on Linux.

Written by modernityblog

18/02/2011 at 14:03

Ten Reasons And Plenty Of Bits.

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Ten reasons to choose Linux, for kids, or even adults.

Want security? Ditch Windows.

Firefox 4 on Linux ?

55 networking tools.

What is Open Core?

More, Canonical’s copyright assignment, slightly puzzling but I tend to agree with this author, they are up to something.

A Firefox add-on that strips out Flash video.

Five reasons Android will beat the iPhone.

Tablet under £200?

Places for cheaper tablets.

Openoffice is updating itself, which proves that Libre Office’s competition is good.

Firefox 3.6.11 is out.

Written by modernityblog

20/10/2010 at 12:07

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October and Linux.

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Slow blogging again, away from PCs for a few days.

A good guide to Firefox.

ACS law has made the headlines, but not all of the story has come out in the mainstream media. Here’s a few other views on ACS Law.

Not forgetting ACS Law’s emails and Sky Broadband users.

Now BT’s involved.

Some lovely Linux Admin Tools.

The Blackberry Playbook looks nice, but not sure it will win the battle with the Ipad. This is a good comparison between them.

Ultimately I think it will come down to applications, once the market for these devices has settled with the advent of Android versions.

Cheap Android tablets on the way?

For Windows users this is a very good site, is it still annoying you?

Are 48 cores too much?

Don’t forget, you are probably using Unix, sort of, in one way shape or form, even if you don’t realise.

The issue of copyright.

Scanning things and Linux.

Taintdroid, not available yet tho.

More wine, 1.1.34 is here.

End of the BIOS?

Anyone for Firefox 4, a bit bleeding edge for me,

A Firefox wish list, not bad, I agree,

Drop box from Android.

Like hacking? This is the site for you.

OpenOffice is forked! Libre Office has come to life.

An area of weakness in Linux, nannying.

Can OLPC be resuscitated?

Written by modernityblog

08/10/2010 at 13:35

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A Quick Linux One.

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I might not be posting for a few days so I thought I would do a quick technology post, rather predictably on Linux.

Whilst Windows 7 will cost you a small fortune Linux is largely free, but the choice is somewhat daunting as can be seen at Distrowatch.

Which particular version of Linux should you choose, is not an easy question to answer, the trite response might be: it depends.

I have tried innumerable Linux distributions and settled on a few that I find reliable and usable.

Firstly, PCLinuxos.

This distro comes in many varieties, I tend towards the smaller version with less bloat.

MiniMe is good, and you can add whatever application you please (again, free). It is KDE based but that shouldn’t be too much of problem now as KDE 4 is getting quite mature.

The other one I find useful is Zen Mini, which is Gnome based but a lot smaller and faster, or so it seems. I should say that the one winning feature in these PCLinuxos distros that I do appreciate is the ability to clone the existing setup from within itself.

That’s right, make an image copy of the existing setup, which could be installed else where or just kept for safety. A marvellous feature, and it works. It is called MkLiveCD. It is simple to use.

Secondly, my fallback distributions are Simply MEPIS (for faster machines) and AntiX Linux for older ones.

Fortunately, new releases are coming out nearly every day and two that deserve scrutiny are Mint’s Debian 201009 and Mint Fluxbox.

Finally, it is handy to make a USB installation of Parted Magic via Unetbootin, it will boot up a very small but functional vision of Linux and you could use it as a browser package, as it includes basic networking, it is surprisingly fast.

PS:Whatever you pick try it out first on an old or spare machine, get use to the installation, read the screens carefully and check the web if you get stuck, it ain’t too hard.

Written by modernityblog

17/09/2010 at 23:30

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Facebook, Wine And Bits.

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I haven’t posted much on technology for ages, so I thought for those of you more interested in politics that I would briefly outline things.

Facebook has added “location-based services”, but if you want to turn them off here’s how to do it.

A new version of Wine is out, it allows you to run Windows applications under Linux and is first rate.

There is more than one way to execute Windows applications on Linux, using Virtual Box is another method and virtual images are exceedingly flexible, if you have the space.

Perplexed nontechnical readers may be wondering why they would want to run Linux? Basically it’s an alternative to Microsoft’s operating systems, Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

Linux does essentially the same, better and often quicker.

Linux will run on comparatively slow hardware and make it usable, it is free and comes with access to thousands of applications, also free. Microsoft operating systems tend to need lots of memory and modern hardware to run at acceptable speeds.

If there’s a job you do under Microsoft Windows then 98% of the time you can find a good as, if not better, Linux alternative, free.

I won’t deny that initially Linux can be a little bit hard to set up, sometimes, but once it is there you’ll find it rocksolid and you won’t need to reboot every couple of hours, as with Microsoft operating systems.

Linux is used extensively in business and a sizeable percentage of Internet service providers will host their pages under Linux, my bet is that WordPress runs on Linux so you are reading these pages courtesy of Linux, either directly or via Google, which extensively uses Linux.

I favour several versions of Linux, (there are lots!) PClinuxos, MEPIS, Antix Linux and Mint. They’ll do for starters.

Basically, you download a big image (called an ISO) burn it to a CD, reboot and install using that, following the defaults, but reading the screens very carefully. Have a spare CD ready.

The alternative is to use Unetbootin. Have a blank USB ready, it will overwrite it completely. Download and execute Unetbootin, it will prompt for which version of Linux you’d like, after which it will download the ISO and burn it to the USB stick. Again, once it has been successful, reboot and install if you wish.

Personally, I would start using a spare machine if you have one, an old one, just to get use to the installation procedure.

These copies of Linux will boot a Live version running from the CD/USB and then give you the option to install on the hard drive if you want. You will need to partition the disk (the hardest part), which makes space for Linux. Then do the install. Easy. Normally takes anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes!

Have a play around on that spare machine and you can’t do much damage.

Written by modernityblog

23/08/2010 at 14:32

Weird Site.

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By chance I ran across a strange blog, which on the surface looks fairly innocuous, simply a pro-Palestinian website.

But when you dig a bit deeper, you find that they print any old racist rubbish including the work of the well known anti-Jewish racist, Gilad Atzmon.

Some of their more lurid headlines include: [Warning, neo-Nazi and racist filth]



Amazing new Video Exposing Zionist Supremacism!

[Which not unsurprisingly leaves to David Duke’s web site.]



Being curious, I decided to look them up and I had assumed that they would be some neo-Nazi group, but imagine my surprise, when I checked the entry for as:

Domain name:

Registrant: Creative Spring

Registrant type: Other UK Entity (e.g. clubs, associations, many universities)

Registrant’s address: Studio 302, The Greenhouse, Gibb Street, B9 4AA United Kingdom

I assume that this design company registered it on behalf of a client, but who knows?

The IP address of is shared with another few strangely named domains,,,,,

I am not sure if these domains and businesses know that their shared IP address hosts such blatant anti-Jewish racism.

Clearly, and are linked, I wonder what is their connection to ?

I can only assume that belongs to some semi-literate neo-Nazi given the varied nature of the racist posts there, but we’ll see.

Written by modernityblog

28/05/2010 at 01:06

Facebook And Advertisers.

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The Register has a slightly worrying story:

“Facebook has been giving advertisers data that they can use to discover users’ names and locations, contrary to its privacy policy.

The dominant social network tells users it won’t share their details without consent, but according to the Wall Street Journal, it has handed over information that advertisers can use to look up individual profiles.

MySpace had a similar loophole, it’s reported. Both sites said they were making changes to stop the handover.

Advertisers were getting reports whenever users clicked on their ads, as is typical across the web. However, Facebook and MySpace’s reports contained the URL of the user’s profile page, which often included their real name or user name. Neither site had bothered to obscure the data, in breach of their own privacy policies.”

This is the WSJ piece:

“Across the Web, it’s common for advertisers to receive the address of the page from which a user clicked on an ad. Usually, they receive nothing more about the user than an unintelligible string of letters and numbers that can’t be traced back to an individual. With social networking sites, however, those addresses typically include user names that could direct advertisers back to a profile page full of personal information. In some cases, user names are people’s real names.

Most social networks haven’t bothered to obscure user names or ID numbers from their Web addresses, said Craig Wills, a professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who has studied the issue.

The sites may have been breaching their own privacy policies as well as industry standards, which say sites shouldn’t share and advertisers shouldn’t collect personally identifiable information without users’ permission. Those policies have been put forward by advertising and Internet companies in arguments against the need for government regulation.”

Written by modernityblog

21/05/2010 at 14:59

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The NHS And Bits.

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Here’s a backlog of technical bits and bobs.

Apps that you must have if you use Windows.

The NHS and viruses.

A bad few weeks for McAfee.

World Wine News.

Facebook changes and what to do.

Teaching aid.

Facebook IDs up for sale? Say it ain’t so?

Intel doesn’t like Vista or Windows 7.

NHS and many too infections.

iFixit 2.0.

Calcuverter looks good.

The end of IPv4? What then?

Ipad owners beware, scammers are after you and your money.

Opera 10.53 is out.

Feeling paranoid? Firefox will manage your on-line identity.

Google collects MAC addresses.

Medical records and security.

IE sinking fast?

Written by modernityblog

06/05/2010 at 16:50

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Google, Spies, Governments And Passwords.

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Google is in the news in more than one way.

Firstly, for releasing information on the type of requests that it receives from governments around the world on Google’s users.

There is a Google page which breaks it down to country by country requests.

Here’s the FAQ.

Next, more details behind the hacking attack on Google have been released:

“It was previously believed that the hackers took individual log-in details but, if the report is true, the breach was considerably more severe.

Google is notoriously secretive about Gaia and rarely discusses it in public, which may provide a clue as to why the company has been so tight-lipped about the incident.

The insider also told The New York Times about the methods used to gain access to Google’s systems.

“The theft began with an instant message sent to a Google employee in China who was using Microsoft’s Messenger program,” he is quoted as saying.

“By clicking on a link and connecting to a ‘poisoned’ web site, the employee inadvertently permitted the intruders to gain access to his (or her) personal computer, and then to the computers of a critical group of software developers at Google’s headquarters.

“Ultimately, the intruders were able to gain control of a software repository used by the development team.”

The hackers then transferred the stolen code to computers operated by web hosting firm Rackspace, from where they were sent to an unknown destination.”

Finally, fake Google extensions are doing the rounds, bringing in Trojans and other Malware, be careful.

Written by modernityblog

21/04/2010 at 02:11

Linux TV And Bits.

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After you’ve install Linux there’s a bit to do to make it nicer, I haven’t tried it but this looks promising.

A few years from now TVs with Internet connections will be all the rage, but will your TV run Linux?

The Digital stitch-up.

The TonidoPlug and its contemporaries look very nice.

Google pushes its updated on-line apps.

Switch to Linux, are you ready?

Got an Iphone ? Careful when you unlock it.

Apple censorship.

Wine development release 1.1.43 is out, the pace of change is amazing.

MEPIS 8.5 reviewed and not forgetting that Antix 8.5 is just out.

Beta me down with a fox, Firefox 3.6.4 Beta is out.

I never knew that OpenOffice had an export to PDF function, but here it is.

Written by modernityblog

18/04/2010 at 13:59

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Stuck with Microsoft.

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Suppose you inherited a PC or acquired a laptop, but it only runs Microsoft software and for any number of complex reasons you can’t change that. What would you do?

How would you make a Microsoft based system somewhat friendlier?

Obviously my answer would normally be to install Linux, but I will try to help out those stuck with Microsoft as their main operating system.

Firstly, install AVG’s free edition and scan the machine immediately.

Next download Chrome and Firefox, and then relegate Internet Explorer to the realms of unused software, forever to be forgotten, lest you wish to collect viruses and other malware.

After that I would install 7-Zip, Abiword, Ccleaner, Everything, Foxit’s Reader, ImgBurn, VLC and Belarc’s Advisor.

If I had to use a spreadsheet and wanted only free software on the machine then Openoffice is the choice.

Finally, I would think about installing K Lite’s Codec Pack.

All of that won’t turn a Microsoft dog’s breakfast into something wonderful, but it should be less hard work, if you are lucky.

Written by modernityblog

04/04/2010 at 20:58