Browse Month: July 2003

07/20/2003

In her never-ending quest for excitement, thrills, and life on the edge, today Laralee sat down and PEELED ALMONDS. I’m not kidding– she took a small bucket of almonds and scraped the skins off every one of them.

Does my wife know how to have a good time, or WHAT?

07/18/2003

If I build my own FM radio and listen to music, I’ve committed no crime.  
Right?

If I build a telescope and look at the stars (or the airspace over Area
51, or the nude beach) I’ve committed no crime.  Right?

If I build a radio telescope and capture radio emissions from distant
stars for analysis on my computer screen, I’ve committed no crime.  
Right?

So if I take that radio telescope and adjust a few things so I’m
capturing DirecTV transmissions and displaying them on my TV screen, am
I committing a crime?

Here’s my thought: DirecTV’s satellites (I think there are two) are
transmitting radio waves.  Bunches of photons.  If I passively collect
those photons and turn them into something entertaining, how is that
any different– in principle– than listening to FM radio or
stargazing?  It’s all electromagnetic radiation.

Please note this is different than if I bought a DirecTV settop box and
hacked the smart card or whatever… I’m assuming I built the receiver
entirely on my own, and happened to be clever enough to decrypt the
signals.  Is passive recording of electromagnetic waves criminal?

To take it a step further, what if I then started intercepting military
transmissions and broadcasting/selling them?  Criminal or no?

And if the answer to any of these questions is “yes” (or even
“probably”) then who decides what parts of the electromagnetic spectrum
are illegal?  How can the FCC– or whoever– “outlaw” bunches of
photons, or the processing of them?

Strange world.

07/17/2003

Man, it’s been hot out lately. Today I played ultimate at lunchtime, and it was bordering on 100 degrees. My bare feet don’t enjoy that scorched ground too much.

This picture is our digital thermometer a few days ago…

07/17/2003

So it looks like DirecTV, makers of those little dishes, has decided to
file lawsuits against 8,000 (and counting) people accusing them of
pirating DirecTV signals.  These people are on record as purchasing
devices called smart-card programmers, which are apparently useful if
you want to “hack” your DirecTV system and get the Playboy channel for
free (or something).

The problem is, DirecTV has no direct evidence that these people are
committing a crime.  Many of those who have been accused don’t
subscribe to the service, don’t have a satellite dish, and simply
bought the devices for other– legitimate– purposes.

However, those same (innocent) people are often choosing to settle with
DirecTV, typically for somewhere around $3,500, rather than face a
lawsuit and the much higher price tag of a lawyer to defend them in
federal court.

It seems to me this is a gross abuse of the legal system.  DirecTV is
using the fact that (1) people are intimidated by legal notices from
big corporations, and (2) people would rather pay $3,500– even if
they’re innocent– than pay $10k or more for a lawyer to defend them.  
It seems to me this is a sad state of affairs, when innocent people
give in to blustery legal threats because it’s easier than the
alternative.

07/16/2003

I saw something on Slashdot that made me chuckle… because it relates to why people hire guys like me to build them a web site…

If you can’t afford a webguy, how do you let people know how good you are? Hmm, that reminds me of something:

Bill: Ted, while I agree that in time our band will be most triumphant, the truth is Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.
Ted: Yes Bill, but I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.
Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.
Ted: Well how can we have decent instruments when we really don’t even know how to play.
Bill: That is why we need Eddie Van Halen.
Ted: And that is why we need a triumphant video.
(Pause)
Both: Excellent. (Air Guitar.)

07/16/2003

So La and I finally got around to watching the ULTIMATE EDITION of “Stargate” the other night. There are two DVD’s: a Theatrical Cut and a Director’s Cut. Obviously we chose the latter.

It was amazing. Absolutely incredible. I think there was an additional twenty seconds of footage… maybe even thirty. (Yes, I said “seconds”, not “minutes”.)

Seriously, I have no idea what made it the Director’s Cut– except for a little 20-second clip that I hadn’t seen before, I recognized every scene in the movie. What a rip.

07/06/2003

At dinner we were talking about the Evil Advertising Agencies and how they make TV commercials designed to entice you to buy their products. Laralee was expounding how Froot Loops have no redeeming quality whatsoever, and Alex retorted with, “But they say they have vitamins and minerals!”

To this, La replied, “Yeah, but it’s still like pouring sugar all over you.”

Alex’s response: “Yuck! Even on your feet? Between your toes?”

07/04/2003

From a newsgroup posting:

One box to run them all,
one box to blind them,
one box to control them all
and in the darkness grind them
in the land of Redmond where the shadows lie.