Archive: 20070112

31 January 2007

It's just about the middle of January, and just now has winter come to DC. I don't want to say that it's cold or anything but we've gone from wearing t-shirts and shorts outside to frost on the windows and multiple layers of clothing because the temperature has been below freezing for much of the day. As if that weren't enough, the wind's been cold enough to feel like it's cutting right through you, and the pressure waves of cold air coming off of the Metro trains when they arrive at the station are enough to deaden one's sense of touch as soon as they strike (and strike they do).

The only thing missing on the east coast is snow. We get the occasional rain storm, which does predictable things to traffic down here, but nothing that's actually stuck on the ground yet.

If the weather thus far is any indication, how weird is 2007 going to get? I guess I spoke too soon with that last entry - presenting squid jerky postcards. No, I'm not kidding, Surumail postcards consist of dried, flattened surume squid in a vacuum-packed envelope with a sticky label that you write the address (and presumably the message) upon. They sell for about $3us each, but don't seem to be available in the US just yet. The best advice I can give you is to keep checking your local import stores for more information.

I can't find stuff like this when I want to.

Another thought: I wonder if these can be legally mailed in the US these days.

"It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of java that the thoughts acquire speed, hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion."

I really should stop asking the universe if the world can get any more weird than it already is. Most of the time I don't mind so much, but I do grow tired of explosions all the time.. just the same, this caught my eye over morning coffee today: Canadian coins bugged with RFID tags were found in the possession of US government contractors who'd gone over the northern border. Details are a little sketchy because the DoD is involved, but it seems like the coins could be used to track the movements of the people who carry (and don't spend!) them. Nothing in the article suggests recording or audio transmission capabilty, but this is serious enough in itself, because governments tend to like the locations of their classified facilities a secret. Then, on the other hand, an unclassified report is going around that the story's bogus, because Americans can't be expected to know whether or not the currency of another country has been tampered with or not.

Frankly, I don't know what to think. It's possible to hide an RFID tag in a coin or in a bill, that much is known. It's not quite so easy to know if there actually is one or not because RFID readers don't exactly grow on trees, but from time to time they will set off other kinds of sensors by accident. It's also possible that they really didn't recognise the other coins, because they were given some kind of 'special issue' currency (whatever that means).

But then there's a report from another US agency that says that the coins were definitely tampered with...

I really hope that the sudden show of interest in net.neutrality isn't just jetwash. A bill has been introduced to Congress that would protect the neutrality of Internet backbones insofar as the origin and destination of information are concerned. Interestingly, it appears that the labor unions (of which there are a few for telecommunications engineers) are making their presence felt in this matter: It is said that by not restricting what the backbone lines of the Net are used for, there is more incentive for the telecom companies to invest and grow, which is, of course in the best interests of the unions.

The book Linux Kernel In A Nutshell by Greg Kroah-Hartman is now freely available under the Creative Commons license. The edition of the book in question is current up to v2.6.18 of the Linux kernel.