South Korea is deploying armed robots that can shoot the enemy automatically, while other robots think that human tastes of bacon.
(VIa Collision detection.)
An article over at IGN shows perfectly well, why I think Nintendo is going to be okay: They're not out there to build an entertainment centre and flex muscles over who can crank more polygons/second or who can score the latest EA gaming hit. Instead, they're beyond entertainment: they want to make their Wii console a part of the family:
Tamaki: On top of that, with the Wii Message Board, users can exchange game data or screenshots. E-mail messages can also be exchanged between mobile phones and Wii. Sorry to keep using families for all the examples...! (laughs) But imagine the father is working late at the office. His family can send him messages via Wii from the living room. Then he could reply by sending a photo. We'd like people to think of Wii as allowing them to feel they are connected, in a loose, relaxed way, with their friends and family.
Now, I don't know whether their strategy will work (and make no mistake, Wii is going to be an excellent console, too), but the way they think intrigues me. Nintendo obviously understands a lot about people.
(Thanks to JES for the link. You were right, it is interesting.)
Our Ministry of Justice is planning something: The police can order you to give up your passwords if they think it's necessary.
What's the problem? Well - since cryptography aims to make your data look as much as random noise as possible, you can pick any file containing noise (like any random JPEG file), and claim that it contains encrypted data. And because there is no password, you go to jail. There is a well-known cryptographic technique called steganography that specializes in hiding data in obvious places.
The British version (RIPA) is even worse: you must prove that you don't know a password for a system. Normally, in court, if you say you don't remember something, that's not illegal. But forgetting a password in Britain is (would be? I'm not sure). However, looking through the Finnish proposal, I don't see anything like that mentioned there. You would be questioned rather deeply, I'm sure.Pakkokeinolakiin lisättäisiin uudet datan säilyttämismääräystä ja tietojärjestelmän haltijan tietojenantovelvollisuutta koskevat säännökset. Tavoitteena on helpottaa esitutkintaviranomaisten työtä ja kansainvälistä yhteistyötä. Tietojärjestelmän haltija olisi velvollinen antamaan esitutkintaviranomaiselle tämän pyynnöstä tiedossaan olevat datan takavarikoimiseksi tarpeelliset salasanat ja vastaavat tiedot.
The good thing is that if you're suspected of a crime, you don't - obviously - have to give up the passwords. As far as I can see, this is really meant to concern administrators and other maintainers of computer systems. Keeping your own hard drive encrypted would still be okay - just make sure you're the only person with the password, and don't store anyone else's stuff on it.
In lieu of the previous entry, here's something else (and far more important) to gather for (sorry, in Finnish):
RAMMAT PANTTERIT VAATIVAT OIKEUTTA HENKILÖKOHTAISEEN AVUSTAJAAN
Aika ja paikka: 29.9. Kokoontuminen Kiasman eteen klo 11, sieltä klo 11.30 "Pitkä Marssi" eduskunnan eteen, klo 12 kutsutaan eduskuntaryhmien edustajat, klo 12.30 lähdemme kotiin.
Koko neljän vuoden hallituksen vammaispoliittisista toimista saldoksi jää vammaispoliittinen selonteko ja pieni tuntimäärien nostaminen tulkkipalveluihin. Mutta mitä vielä - ministeri Hyssälä pursuaa tyytyväisyyttä STM:n tiedotteessa.
Me vaikeavammaiset tunnemme itsemme petetyksi, jälleen kerran. Jo ainakin kolmas hallitus vatkaa henkilökohtainen avustajajärjestelmää saamatta mitään aikaiseksi.
On October 1st, zombies will walk in Helsinki. Brains...
(Thanks to Jaana-Mari.)
The Finnish Research Centre is starting a pilot in Oulu in which elderly people can order food using NFC (Finnish). You just touch the picture of the food you want, and it'll be delivered. Very simple, intuitive, less susceptible to errors, can be used even if your eyesight is not that good, faster, cheaper, yadda, yadda.
I'm sort of two minds on this: on other hand, it demonstrates an innovative use of a technology in an important area. On the other hand, it deprives older people one more contact with the rest of the society. Maybe the call to the person who handles the food deliveries is the only discussion of the day? How much computing can we put into people's lives to replace normal social contacts before it's too much?
This amazing tidbit from Collision Detection explains why I, even after total catastrophes like last Monday, still occasionally drink myself silly: to make more money.
Or to put it another way: Drinking is the original social-networking technology.
(Full article here, PDF with lots of funny pictures.)
This has been everywhere, but that's only because it's totally awesome. Not $2.99 hotdog -awesome, but really, really cool:
Nice soundtrack, too - always liked Ronan Hardiman.
Third hotel night in six days, all in different places. So please excuse my quietness. Follow my Flickr stream, which tends to be updated far more often during travel periods like this.
(I have, however, managed to push through a few updates of JSPWiki. We have still a couple of bad bugs in caching, so those will need to be ironed out before the next stable release. I have not forgotten the podcast either, it's just that both me and Jyri have been traveling a lot during these past few weeks.)
Brilliant idea by someone: if you're afraid of losing your camera (or something else that is expensive) in the airport, just put a gun in with the camera. The airlines will pay extra attention, because losing a weapon in the airport would create a really, really big mess.
So, if I'm getting this right: thanks to increased security, it's actually better to be traveling with lethal weapons than without them?
The absurdity of this situation is beyond belief.
Windows Media Player 11 is going to:
- Take away your ability to back up your media files
- Take away your ability to move content from one PC to another (yes, even a legal one)
- Add DRM to any CDs you own and rip
- Not allow you to play media files of your own CDs unless you ask for permission
- Delete any TV recordings you make after three days
And, being the dominant OS, they will have this on every desktop in a couple of years. Of course, the content owner can be lenient and allow things to be done with the file - but they can also change their mind without a moment's notice and change what you can do with your music retroactively. Here's the rub: because the whole thing is based on licensing and contracts, they can change the rights in any way they want in any way they please. It's not a sale, remember?
Normally, I would not be too worried. Consumers would not buy from such a store that screws them so badly. But the thing is, copyright is a government-granted monopoly (in much the same way as alcohol in Finland), so there cannot be proper competition. Especially since there are relatively few media companies that control most of the field. They're not out to compete on quality and innovation - since they've already got the monopoly. And if the only way to get Britney is to bend over and lick your own balls in public, then hey, an amazing amount of people will turn out to be surprisingly supple.
<old-fart-cynicism> Hookay... From Pinseri I got this link to this allegedly first Finnish Blog Questionnaire. However, something is not right. First of all, the blog itself is concentrated on search engine optimization - a practice, which is filled with people from blog spammers to people who just tell you how to make your blog stand out. Second, the blog is filled with typos (mm. "blogikysely" on yhdyssana. Samaten "tutkimustyöväline"), which while forgivable, does not exactly give a professional image. Third, the questionnaire itself wants to know, among other things, how much money you get and what your political viewpoints are, and whether you've ever clicked on ads in a blog. Fourth, and the biggie, is that there is no statement at all on how that information would be used and by whom.
All this makes me wonder about the purpose of this questionnaire. It stinks as somebody trying to gather some more data for marketing and profiling purposes. But, because it's based on being voluntary, it's rather worthless, since the data you get is bound to be biased. So I'm not at all sure of what the point of such an exercise exactly is... For what it's worth, it's about as useful as any of the memes that are flying around the blogosphere.
Now, anyone can make any sorts of questionnaires they want. It's just that anyone who thinks that this might have any significance probably deserves a wedgie. </old-fart-cynicism>
Amazon recently opened the Unbox movie service, which allows you to download movies legally. However, this Boing Boing article deconstructs the terms of service, pointing out a number of significant problems.
You see, once you move from "selling" movies to "licensing" movies, you end up in a situation where the consumer no longer has any rights - because he did not buy anything. It's all covered by agreements, and things like the right to give away your copy no longer apply, because you no longer own anything you could give away.
It'll be interesting to see when the first consumer organizations start making noise about this. After all, from the customer's point of view he bought the movie as if he had bought it from any web store, except that he gets it nearly immediately, but from the store's point of view it's not a sale - not even a rental - but a loan under a very specific set of terms, which are not covered by any legislation. And this allows the stores to dictate everything.
Tuija asks (in Finnish) how to deal with the occasional shame that comes with an extended net presence. I stopped thinking that a long time ago. It's not my job to sell the internet to anyone anymore, and I don't have to justify my presence on the 'net to anyone. The internet just is, and me a part of it. And in the end, I am a rather insignificant part, so why should I care? It's not as if thousands of people are anticipating breathlessly my every word and would throw themselves off the cliff at a mere hint. If anything, people are reading this to pick apart any mistake I make - which is actually pretty cool, when you think about it. Keeps you honest, your readers.
All I can say is that it becomes easier over time. And whatever happens, I found my love thanks to the dumb ideas I got online. So maybe dumb ideas and shame are just a vehicle to something better? I mean, if you can't escape your local comfort zone, you can never achieve all you can do.
In other news: getting peer recognition feels wonderful. NFC Forum surprised me by remembering me on Thursday for the work I've so far done, and gave me a very nice bottle of wine. My only regret is that I gave a very bad speech, but that's what happens when I'm surprised. I can now report that the wine was rather excellent with a well-marmored steak. It even held very nicely together with the best ice-cream available in Finland, Valio's Aino blueberry-pie flavor. Yup, beats Ben&Jerry's. Anyway, thanks heaps to everyone. And yes, I am writing this after emptying that particular bottle. So please excuse any incoherence.
Helsingin Sanomat reports that Helsinki City Transport is planning to install WiFi connections in buses. The reason is that they want to be able to stream live security camera footage from the buses, but that they'll open it for passengers as well. People remain unconvinced, since using a laptop in a bus is inconvenient.
Well, what about WLAN-enabled cell phones? Free calls with VoIP? Checking news, feeds, what-have-you? Participating in an online game? Lots and lots of interesting possibilities there...
(In other news, the first bionic woman is born.)
Yesterday I tried to participate in a large corporate event (from a very large corporation) on Second Life. Second Life (or SL) has become recently popular as a place to hold online events, partly because it fosters things like users creativity, uploads of material and has even a real-currency-based economy.
Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go before it stops being an exclusive club. You see, I quit after ten minutes in disgust, plagued by UI issues, permission problems and the general amount of people waving their hands trying to understand was going on. Yes, I was invited. No, I was not given any token to present or anything, so I simply did not see or hear anything. And nobody gave me any instructions on how to proceed. There was not even a simple help file - not that I could've necessarily found it: running around a virtual world and picking up virtual pieces of paper to find a manual is about as pleasant and pointless as trainspotting.
It has been said that "World of Warcract is the new golf". That is more apt in more ways than one: both are rather exclusive sports. A WOW server will get full, and if you're not playing on that server, you're out, and you just can't get in anymore. Or your playing experience will be ruined by long waits and terrible lag. Not to mention that you need to own a powerful computer and broadband. And have the money and time to spend in there (though this is mostly a prioritization question). At least WOW you can play on a Mac, too. But Linux users are left out.
The same goes for the other online worlds: they are very exclusive places. I can't fathom a blind person playing World of Warcraft, for example, or to participate in Second Life - at least without help. (If anyone who actually happens to be blind knows better, please correct me.)
A lot of this new stuff is simply just inaccessible to a lot of people, yet they are touted as the "next big thing". But the thing is, in a limited customer space the market saturates pretty quickly. There can't be thousands and thousands successful "World of Warcrafts" out there, simply because there are not enough people to play them to keep them running.
How do you break this exclusivity? How do you bring online gaming to the masses? I have no idea. I've lately scaled down my participation in World of Warcraft (my guild was disbanded without warning while I was on holiday) been playing Travian, which is a browser-based online massively multiplayer game in the spirit of Settlers of Catan (I'm on server 7, BTW). It's certainly fun, and possibly even accessible. And it's primarily a game, not a social event :-)
(Oh yeah, if you want a reason to check out SL, Jonathan Coulton is giving a concert in Second Life on Thursday.)
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said that |Wikipedia does not censor their contents|http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1869074,00.html], and therefore remains blocked in China:Wales said censorship was ' antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."'
This is one of the better reasons to have non-profit organizations collecting and ordering data: they don't have sales quotas to meet, and therefore they don't have to give in on pressure. Google and other companies are, in the end, out to make money, and the red line is the most important principle of all, over which any other principles can be sacrificed.
In a free environment, both work. But when push comes to shove, I'd bet on the non-profit, volunteer organization in the long run.
Rarely should I have felt so safe as today in Scandic Hotel Simonkenttä, with about a dozen police officers watching my every move as I put my backpack through the X-ray device. But somehow it made me more worried. I felt as if anything really bad could happen at any time. The amount of added security did not make me feel any safer, in fact, quite the opposite.
I think the best security is the one that is invisible and does not interfere with your life. Ignorance is bliss, and if you are constantly reminded that you are being kept safe by hundreds of policemen, you quickly start to wonder what the big danger is all about.
Maybe that's the real reason they keep adding security to the airports - to remind people how unsafe they are, and make sure they keep giving their power away.
(But saying that would be cynical and evil, so I'm not saying it.)
One thousand years ago, when ~NullPointerExceptions were just things that happened to other people, a hardy group of ninjas left their oppressed village in Japan, and fled overseas, taking with them the greatest secret of our time. It was guarded in total secrecy in a forbidden monastery deep in a Finnish swamp, surrounded by deadly mosquitoes and harvester-wielding grannies.
The Coding Monk Ninjas That Have Mosquito Bites The Size Of Their Head proudly present JSPWiki 2.4 stable! With new, exciting features such as
- Page-level authentication and authorization using industry standard JAAS
- Atom Feed Support
- WIKIWYG editing using a dedicated Java applet from University of Heilbronn
- All new rendering engine
- About a trillion changes under the hood
- And all this in comfortable 5.5 Megabytes
JSPWiki 2.4.53 stable is available immediately from http://www.jspwiki.org/wiki/JSPWikiDownload
"...and the ninjas breathed a deep sigh of relief and returned to their monastery to rewatch all the episodes of Bevery Hills 90210, for they were deeply in love with Luke Perry..."
Darn, I missed the best music video of the 80s and I didn't hear about it until now! Go see Fish Heads, which is about the strangest thing that ever appeared in the 80s - which is saying a lot...
Roly poly Fish heads
Fish heads, Fish heads
Eat them up, Yum
They can't play baseball
They don't wear sweaters
They're not good dancers
They don't play drums
YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting company opened their new archives to the public. Wonderful stuff, I could spend hours there, browsing through old stuff (like Kylli-täti). Kudos to YLE for doing this culturally important deed!
I'm also happy to report that the archive - even though it's in Windows Media - works nicely on my Mac with Flip4Mac, though I have not done an exhaustive test. Safari gets the layout wrong, which would probably be an easy fix, but I do take slight offense in the fact that the service tells me that only IE and Firefox are allowed ("sallittu"), implying that all other browsers would be disallowed ("kielletty"). There are also some weird finglish forms on the pages (e.g. "klippi").
But it's a good start, as long as they don't go into that crappy Windows Media DRM stuff.
Who cares about tens and hundreds of security holes that make the computers dangerous to the users - just as long as the DRM keeps running.
Last week, a hacker developed an application called FairUse4WM that strips the copy protection from Windows Media DRM 10 and 11 files. Now, this isn't a "vulnerability" in the normal sense of the word: digital rights management is not a feature that users want. Being able to remove copy protection is a good thing for some users, and completely irrelevant for everyone else. No user is ever going to say: "Oh no. I can now play the music I bought for my computer in my car. I must install a patch so I can't do that anymore."
But to Microsoft, this vulnerability is a big deal. It affects the company's relationship with major record labels. It affects the company's product offerings. It affects the company's bottom line. Fixing this "vulnerability" is in the company's best interest; never mind the customer.
So Microsoft wasted no time; it issued a patch three days after learning about the hack. There's no month-long wait for copyright holders who rely on Microsoft's DRM. This clearly demonstrates that economics is a much more powerful motivator than security.
Well, sometimes introducing new technology sounds deceptively easy. In a pilot between Atlanta Spirit, Chase, Cingular, Nokia, NXP, Visa USA and Vivotech, 150 people were given NFC -enabled cell phones, which they could then use to pay for things, use as tickets, access information, download media, etc, and people really seemed to genuinely like it.
- Trial participants overwhelmingly embraced the technology and expressed that the mobile device and applications significantly improved their arena experience
- Data usage increased during game days; trial participants used their NFC-enabled mobile device more frequently to search for and purchase digital content
(The whole article can be found in Contactless News.)
I like NFC. It's a good, solid technology with plenty of applications, which hold a promise of making the life of the users easier. Not everything, mind you (it's not the fabled silver bullet - that one is still in the labs), but for some things it's just perfect. And it feels so natural, once you get the hang of it.
I guess that this is where we see whether the mobile industry learned from the WAP catastrophy, and will refrain from pushing technology over substance. There's plenty of both in NFC, and it'll be interesting to see how the whole thing gets marketed.
(The standard disclaimers about me working for Nokia apply.)
No, I'm not yet tired of World of Warcraft, though that was my immediate association when I read Niko's great post about wow. He has good points: "WOW" without substance is, well, short-lived.
I think that everything needs a bit of "wow" in order to work, because that's the crucial element in getting people to use your thing. But still, you need real beef. It's gotta look good, taste good and be nourishing.
Mobilecrunch reminds us what the most important application of mobile phones is.
Finland has one of the strongest legislations concerning employee privacy. Now there have been requests from corporations that it should be broken. Not much, but just enough so that they would have the right to read who is sending email to whom (but not the contents of the message). The reason stated is that the corporations need to supervise their email traffic to cut down on industrial espionage.
The whole thing puzzles me. Many people have pointed out that most spies would just smuggle the data out on a USB memory card, or use the photocopier. You cannot stop that without instigating physical searches at doors. Also, it could not possibly be extended to free web-based email accounts, so that would not have much effect that way either.
On the other hand, corporations do already have the right to view the addressee of your regular mail - because the address is stamped on the back of the envelope. They can install a camera in your office, but they can't pinpoint it at you. They can read your email if you're disabled or on vacation (and they have good reason to believe that it's important for the company). It's questionable whether spam filtering is allowed: On the other hand, it's totally automatic, and untouched by human hands (so no "reading" of email occurs). On the other hand, someone could take spam filtering software (like spamassassin, and train it to recognize possible information leaks - or private emails. Not possible? Perhaps not now, but certainly feasible in the close future. Some companies have already blocked web mails, encrypted hard drives, and disabled USB ports, leaving email as the only feasible way to share secrets. Is it a surprise that they want to control that channel, too?
One argument is that the new law would only harmonize the different message bearers: the ability to read sender and recipient from email is the same as phone bill with phone numbers itemized, or looking at the sender and recipient information of regular mail. Currently, email is the bastion you can't touch, no matter how much you would like to do it.
The problems, of course, arrive when you realize the potential of mass-scanning of email - something which you could not do with regular mail. If it were possible to scan the header data of email from and to the entire corporation, you could very quickly determine who talks to whom. This could then be used to profile the employees, and that data then used to determine things like loyalty, potential risk, and so on. Internally, within the company, it could be used to determine possibly useful things like "which unit talks most to HR", or "in which site there are most health problems".
One of the things that the new law proposal might give a tool for is the notion of accidental leaks. Sometimes people send files or other things for which they have no right for. They might do this because they need to get their job done regardless of the means, or they're just thoughtless. But that is hard to determine without actually peeking into the contents of the message.
There is certainly a slipperly slope here, and one needs to consider carefully before trying to climb it down. Would the law be used for evil? Corporations profiling their employees to get rid of unsuitable material? Perhaps - but other laws will make that difficult. Will slips happen, and companies getting too greedy? Inevitably. Does it reduce employee's privacy? In some cases, yes. Is it against the Finnish Constitution? Well...
I know I am supposed, as a privacy advocate, to condemn this to the lowest point of Hell. But for some reason I find it rather hard. The reasons quoted for this proposal are too simplistic; too unrealistic. I also find it rather incredulous that corporations would have more power than the police to monitor email - but on the other hand, it is their email, and corporations have both a right and a duty to protect their assets. If you make an invention on company time, using company tools, performing company duties, then it's the company's idea, too. So says the law.
So far, I've found the discussion (and I am basing this writing on whatever I could find from the media archives and blogs - I was not able to find the original paper; nobody links to it and I gave up trying to navigate through governmental web pages (who's the moron designing those anyway?)) a rather hard-to-follow strawman argumentation. Without clear knowledge of what exactly is being suggested I find myself unable to form a good opinion on this.
It's just a bit too complicated.
The media has been telling us that Wikipedia is going to add more editing restrictions to prevent vandalism, and becoming less and less open. Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, the founder of Wikipedia explains that the media, as so often is the case with new digital world, has the whole story backwards:
We expect the following benefits from this innovation:
- Wikipedia will be more wiki than ever, in the sense that for the first time in years, we expect that nearly ALL pages will be open to editing by ANYONE, even non-logged-in users. This means the almost complete elimination of the editing restrictions we have been forced to have for years.
It certainly sounds interesting. If that works, maybe we should implement a similar thing for JSPWiki?
(BTW, in case you are tracking JSPWiki progress, the CVS just landed the ~WikiWizard WIKIWYG editor. Expect a new, final beta, RSN.)
Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.
|"Main" last changed on 06-Mar-2012 10:13:04 EET by JanneJalkanen.|