Trouble at the Top

Freedom from necessity

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Recommended for extradition

So Gary McKinnon has finally been recommended for extradition!! It's now in the hands of the Home Secretary.

The Extradition Act stipulates there must be a valid reason for extradition. No problem there, he's pleaded guilty to breaking the law. My concern is that countries such as the USA are in a category of territory that are not required to provide sworn evidence. I think they only need to provide a warrant for his arrest, including any allegations.

Presumably this means we've not looked at the detail of the numbers involved. This would be worrying, given that Gary's version of events differs so much from the Americans'.

Handing him over is equivalent to locking him up and throwing away the key. I'd want to be tried here in the UK.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

To all music lovers

I'd heard of the Music Genome Project before, but not Pandora. It's a music discovery service, pointed out to me by a friend.

Pure genius, I could while away hours on this thing.

He's a nutter

His plan is suceeding, because as much as it grieves me I'm forced to give this guy a mention!

I'm just wondering how they're going to get him out given that is skin is so painful? Isn't it all going to drop off? :-/

Hack me and it'll cost you

Gary McKinnon set about executing "the biggest military hack of all time" in the late 90's to uncover untold US government secrets about UFOs on Earth.

I refuse to believe that UFOs or aliens have visited, and will do so until I meet one in person. Life almost certainly exists elsewhere in the universe, but visiting earth? Well, any extra-terrestrial readers feel free to pop by, just please don't stick nasty probes in me.

Having said that, the BBC interview with Gary McKinnon seems to have a certain poignancy about it. What he is saying sounds almost believable, even if his claims relate to some new-fangled military technology rather than extra-terrestrial reverse engineering as he claims.

All for the legal case, I have sympathy for both Gary and the US government.

I appreciate he was a fairly passive hacker, but if I found that someone had been inside one of the computer systems at work it would cause serious downtime and require major damage-limitation efforts. How would we know that he was just sniffing around? What's to say he hasn't altered key documents or installed key loggers? Who knows what might have been stolen? $5000 a machine sounds quite a modest repair bill to me.

However, 60 years in Guantanamo does sound too steep. They are clearly setting an example (maybe rightly so?) but good grief 60 years?! It might also hint that his claims have some truth behind them; they want him out of the way.

If/when they do lock him up they'd be wise to set him to work as a security consultant. If they are failing to set administrator passwords as Gary claims, then they are inviting attention from hackers. Any number of script kiddies and foreign governments could be sifting through their data at this very minute.

Security by obscurity doesn't work, and their ignorance and unset passwords makes them partly responsible. It should be US government heads rolling as well as Gary's.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fond memories - Acorn rebirth

My Dad introduced me to the world of computers when I was a wee nipper. We had an Acorn Electron, powered by a huge adapter plug and connected to a tape deck. I cut my teeth on the Electron and BBC Micro, and have fond memories of many hours spent programming BBC Basic. Ahh those were the days.

Nice to hear then that they're making a return, albeit in Windows laptops. To me it just looks like a new company with new focus, but sporting the old Acorn brand. I wonder what the present day Acorn users think, with their beloved logo appearing alongside the inevitable badges stating 'Acorn recommends Microsoft Windows XP'?

Edit: It could all be a lie!! Apparently they've been reported to Companies House for fraudulent use of the name.

MS gone mad

I can't believe it.

I've just been using MS Office, and all of a sudden I've got a new icon in my tray called 'Microsoft Office Customer Experience Improvement Program'. It sends usage stats to Microsoft on my behalf. Bloomin' spy-ware.

It has only appeared after I set up a new user account. Weird.

Dear Microsoft
  • For starters, with my laptop set to the en_GB locale it should read 'programme'.
  • Don't install it and then ask me if I want to use it. Give me an option at install time.
  • Finally, Microsoft take note, this customer would have a much improved experience if you stopped pratting about doing random things with my laptop that I never asked for.
Incidentally, I opted out. *Sigh*

Mini server

I've been wanting to set up a mail server at home, partly because of bad experiences with the service providers I've used, but also 'cos I've got the knowledge and like the idea of having full control. I've got my own domain, a 24/7 broadband connection (yes, with a static IP) but unfortunately not a computer that I'd be willing to leave on 24/7. A P4 is hardly economic.

I started looking around and came across a few possible solutions.

From initial looks, the eBox seems to have a lot going for it. Based on the Mini-ITX form factor and running on a Watt or two with its fanless (and therefore silent) design it'd be great. However, **where do I buy one**!? I've also still to determine whether or not I can get a linux distro (preferably Debian) running on it, alongside Exim and SpamAssassin etc.

Option number two comes with much more support and info, but it involves multiple boxes and more messing about than I'd like. It's the NSLU2 from LinkSys. I'd also have to get an external hard disk, and my preferred MTAs aren't on the packages list yet. Looks like too much of a hack to me.

Watch this space.

British Nationals

I'm sad to see the BNP making gains in yesterday's election. Admittedly only 44 seats, but 44 too many in my view. The fact that they've won second place in Barking and Dagenham (where one in ten people were born outside of the UK) is, quite frankly, scary.

The thing is, is it racism or protest voting? If there is a problem with immigration there are better ways to solve it than voting for BNP. Immigration and race aside, I wouldn't want them running my council. Let's hope it doesn't last.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Come and vote, sunshine

Excluding the tabloids, it often seems that bad news is the only news the media are interested in reporting. As such it's nice to see today's headline sporting the word sunshine. Very refreshing!

It's interesting to see that Mother Nature is better at improving voter turnout than the politicians...

Proof if ever it were needed.

I'm h-a-p-p-y

Well I'm very happy thank you, Auntie, unlike 64% of the population it would seem. Having said that, if GfK NOP had pulled me aside for that poll I'd have probably stated otherwise!

This suggestion that the government should focus on 'Happiness not wealth' made me chuckle. Surely government should promote both? One thing is for sure though, there is no single 'happiness fix' that the government can effect. Society has too many problems. Or does it?*

On BBC Breakfast the other day Nicolas Parsons talked about money being the facilitator to happiness; it doesn't bring happiness itself. Kinda obvious, but what does one do if the £'s aren't there? We all have spending priorities that would soon clear this magic £10,000 long before any leftovers for improving happiness.

Coaching positive psychology could work if done properly. However, I fear that the most important ears will be deaf ones, and I can't see a lesson dubbed 'educating happiness' going down too well in state secondary schools.

*But hang on a minute... Take a second look at the figures. The only notable change is a slide from 'very happy' towards 'fairly happy'. This small detail has been casually glossed over by the media and now they're telling us that we're unhappy. Now is this going to help the situation?? Is there even a situation?

Maybe we're just not allowed to be very happy these days in a society where everyone has to fit in? Aww the media, bless 'em.

Pause for thought

There's some strange stuff going on upstairs. My brain is always working away at something, be it a problem to solve, a grump to grumble about, plans for the future... anything, you name it. It's usually multi-threading too, just to make things more interesting.

The other day it stuck me: start blogging these thoughts and who knows what'll happen?