Friday, August 31, 2007

Shaolin Temple Starts Flamewar

[via Reuters] China's Shaolin Temple, which is well-known for the kung-fu skills of its monks, is trying to get an apology out of someone going by the handle "Five Minutes Every Day" (I suppose in Chineese), who posted on some forum somwhere a story about a Japaneese ninja coming to the temple, challenging the kung-fu monks, and winning. Rather than taking the normally accepted course of action to insulting forum posts (ignoring them, or posting back), the temple has instead brought out their lawyers to demand that this fiendish criminal "apologize to the whole nation for the wrongs he or she did."

Guess what I have to say to China's Shaolin Temple:
Once upon a time, there was a ninja who had gone to visit China. He had heard of the skill of the monks of the Shaolin Temple, and went there to see whether they were really as good as he had heard. When he arrived, he challenged one of the newest monks, who had trained for only a year, in single combat, and defeated him. He then went on to challenge another monk, who had trained for ten years, and defeated him also. He defeated monks who had trained for twenty and thirty years, and defeated them also. Finally, he challenged the grand master of the Temple, who had trained for his entire lifetime, and defeated him also. The ninja then went back to Japan, and told of his journy through China.
I'm sure China's Shaolin Temple is very wonderful, and kung-fu is downright awesome. I think their monks probably would stand a chance of beating a ninja. But "zomg an 'internet user' posted a story in which ancient Shaolin monks were defeated by Ninjas!!!!!111111" is hardly a reason to send your lawyer to the Beijing News. It's not a crime, a horrible deed, or even particularly disrespectful.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Paper Box

I found a nice paper box tutorial, when I was trying to make a fake food money donation box for one of my friends. (I got tired of him stealing my food).

Go follow it and make little paper open-topped boxes. For whatever you might use a little paper open-topped box for.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Paul has a Blog

Go check out my friend Paul's blog. It's mostly about... well... Paul. Given that it's called Channel Paul News, that's not particularly unexpected. But, if you know him, you might want to read it. If you don't know him, you might still want to read it--especially if you like maps.

So, go read Channel Paul News!

xkcd Wins!

I just love xkcd.
This one deserves a T shirt.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

NY Police Comissioner's Biggest Threat to the US? Muslims on the Internet

According to the Police Commissioner of New York, the Internet is the "new Afghanistan" when it comes to fighting terrorism. His general argument seems to be that unhappy Muslim-American (or Muslim-English, or Muslim-French) people who go online get "radicalized" and decide to blow stuff up, after they read information put on the web by terrorist groups. This may be a partially sound conclusion--I have no doubt that terrorist propaganda put on the Internet has caused at least one person to become a terrorist. However, the good Commissioner sounds as though he believes that it is imperative that we keep every person of Islamic faith away from computers, lest they all become "radicalized" by invisible radicalization beams and come to kill him and his city.
Furthermore, might someone tell the commissioner that, if his goal is really to stop Muslim-American people from developing a hatred and resentment towards the US, he might want to stop making them feel angry and alienated them by his comments? The report which the Commissioner released while making his inflammatory remarks stated that Western people who practice Islam may become more radical because they are "looking for an identity and a cause." What better way is there to ensure that Muslim-Americans in the city of New York are unhappy, and in need of an identity and a cause, than by having the city's Police Commissioner try to convince everyone to be afraid of them?
This is not a very humorous topic, but what I have to say to the good Commissioner is probably expressed best in this image macro:
(Image shamelessly stolen from: SpikedHumor)

The bottom line: Complaining about the radicalization of Muslim-Americans sends a message of fear and distrust. We want to send a message of friendliness and acceptance (and probably remorse for anything ever done by the CIA in the Eastern Hemisphere). See image.

See also: This guy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Authoriy: 1

According to the wonderful folks at Technorati, my "authority," whatever that might mean, has increased from 0 to all of 1 point. Wow. 1 point.

I think that Technorati's "authority" figures are based on "blog reactions"--that is, how many other bloggers link to my posts in their posts. So, the more controversial or interesting posts I make, the higher my authority gets. I have no idea why it went up to 1, because I still have 0 blog reactions. I am also, apparently, the three million, nine hundred fifteen thousand, seven hundred and fifth most awesome blog on the Internet.

Looking at your Technorati scores really makes you feel good inside, doesn't it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Adobe Acrobat Reader Sucks

I'm sorry. I just have to come out and say it. Adobe Acrobat Reader is a crummy piece of software. Now don't get me wrong: PDFs are a good idea--I'm very happy that we have a cross-platform way to specify exactly what a document should look like. And Adobe's professional PDF making tools are, in all probability, the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas and all that. But Acrobat Reader isn't. It's a bloated piece of software, with millions of features that absolutely no one uses. It takes 30 seconds to load in a tab in Firefox, and, while it's loading, I kick myself for being so dumb as to click on yet another PDF link, and frantically yet unsuccessfully try to abort loading the program. Part of the reason that Acrobat Reader takes so long to load is that, whenever I start it, it has to phone home to Adobe, and then, just when I've started reading the document that took 30 seconds to load, it tells me how important it is that I update from version 7.0 to 7.0.1, and install the Yahoo!® Toolbar® and some kind of trial of Photoshop®. Every. Single. Time. I. View. A. PDF. I don't want to waste my time downloading the 30 megabyte new and improved version (how many of those bytes are '®'?) when the old one is viewing a PDF perfectly fine, and all I wanted to do in the first place was read the stupid document.

Enter Foxit Software's Foxit Reader.

A two megabyte download (compared to a whopping 30.7 MB for Acrobat Reader, including the Photoshop trial that comes with it by default), Foxit Reader is an alternative PDF viewer which has, so far, perfectly handled any PDF I've thrown at it. It loads in about a second, and, while it doesn't integrate into Fifefox tabs, it does one essential thing that Adobe Acrobat Reader does not do: it gets out of your dang way and lets you actually read documents.

You can get the miraculous Foxit Reader here. You'll thank me later.

Monday, August 6, 2007

MSNBC is Staffed by Idiots

I bring you a couple of choice quotes, from an article with the headline "Game piracy runs rampant on the Internet". If that's your idea of news, you need to come out of your cave.
On game console modding:
Early on, enterprising hackers also figured out how to modify consoles, disabling the copyright protection in the hardware and then reselling the machines with pre-loaded, pirated software. This process is called “modding.”
Apparently, there's no such thing as Xbox Linux.

A quote used from "Ron Teixeira of the National Cyber Security Alliance":
“A hacker needs only to find a way to get a malicious program into a computer and use it as a network,” he says.

I guess he misspoke, but, what? That quote didn't make any sense at all, yet it managed to find its way into a news article.

Mod Chips Illegal?

Apparently, Federal agents are going on anti-mod-chip raids. Mod chips--small pieces of circuitry that can be attached to gaming consoles in order to convince them to run games that they would not otherwise run--are apparently barred under the DMCA as copyright circumvention devices. While it is true that installing a mod chip will cause a console to play home-burned copies of commercial games, it is also the only way to cause the console to run non-official, unsigned games, known as "homebrew" software. This second use of mod chips-running unofficial software, or even copies of the Linux operating system, constitutes a "substantial non-infringing use" for mod chips, and that anyone fighting a case in court over mod chips would probably win--assuming they have a decent lawyer.

Maybe someone should talk to the EFF?