Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Conroy's Filter - Public Service Announcement (2)

Use Tor for browsing - there is also a Tor button for Firefox. Used correctly, it provides safety and privacy for those who need it. Using it doesn't make you a pirate or a pedophile.

"Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.
Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor's hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.

Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they're in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they're working with that organization.
Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members' online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers. They also use it to replace traditional VPNs, which reveal the exact amount and timing of communication. Which locations have employees working late? Which locations have employees consulting job-hunting websites? Which research divisions are communicating with the company's patent lawyers?

A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.

The variety of people who use Tor is actually part of what makes it so secure. Tor hides you among the other users on the network, so the more populous and diverse the user base for Tor is, the more your anonymity will be protected."

(Overview from the Tor site, reproduced via Creative Commons rules)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lies! All lies!


Well here we go again. Those evil, lying scientists are trying the old global warming con but I'm not falling for it. No sir, I've weighed the evidence on Fox News, read about the scientific papers from the Exxon Valdez Memorial Institute for the Unbiased Study of the Unchanging Climate and watched Glenn Beck. I know a communist plot by the New World Order when he tells me.

These white-coated frauds are just hustling for the meager, Mega bucks in, er, those Grant things, whatever they are. I've worked in uni labs and seen those so-called professors* snorting blow off the dainty insteps of their graduate students^. I happen to know for certain - because I read it on the Internet - that CO2 is good for plants, meaning bigger crops and no food shortages. Also, who cares if some glaciers melt? I wasn't using them, were you? We should be concerned about real problems like stopping the dozens of savage boat people, waving their AKA-747's and smuggling nuclear weapons in their nappies, and jumping queues right left and centre. I was jumped in a queue once and I missed the seat I like at the front of the bus. If these boat people are allowed to land, our queues will never be safe again!

Besides, Pastor Jim told us at the big thanks4giving service that believing in AGW is unGodly. Only atheist scum believe it, because WE know that God looks after his people and would never let anything that bad happen to us. He protects us from natural disasters and the works of evil men. (Some smart-alec kid started mumbling about tsunamis and holocausts but Pastor Jim's ushers took him out the back and his family got told not to talk to him no more. Don't reckon he'll disturb the faithful again!)

So if them scientists are so smart, how come they call it "undeniable"? I can deny it all I want. It's a free country isn't it?

*(So-called because that's kinda their job)
^(Parts or all of this statement may be untrue)

I want to write the Blurbs

I have a paperback devoted to quotes from Science Fiction and Fantasy books. It's called "Ghastly Beyond Belief" by Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman and there's a section dealing with the various kinds of blurbs on the back covers. Well, I just finished a classic (blurb, not book) and because I'm a cruel little man, I'm going to share. The book was "The Assassin" by Stephen Coonts (don't judge me, I just felt like a veggie read). Here is the annotated blurb.

Tommy Carmellini is a man who's known both sides of the law. (True)
But even as a burglar, he knew honour among thieves. (Never mentioned) Now firmly allied to 
the CIA, (Is "allied" the same as full-time agent?) he can still recognise a traitor when he sees one. 
(Great. Pity there are no traitors). And so tracking down Al Qaeda lieutenant (no, he isn't
Abu Qasim has become a personal quest (no, it hasn't).

While trailing Abu Qasim (he never does, nor does anyone else), Tommy spots an 
American mobster boarding a yacht in Capri. (There are no American mobsters, or yachts 
and Capri is never mentioned in the book). Tommy's boss - Jake Grafton (he is!) fearing links 
between the mob and Al Qaeda (no he doesn't. As above no mob, no Al Qaeda), sends 
Tommy in even deeper to investigate. (Not exactly)

Meanwhile Fioratti (who?), Tommy's mobster (nope), is busy planning a terror-for-hire 
strike that will make him rich beyond the dreams of avarice. (Maybe he is - in another book)
After all, global terror is big business. Some fight for their faith; others for cold hard cash.
Soon Tommy and Jake are embroiled in a stew of American and Russian mobsters,
(There. are. no. mobsters. in. this. book. And no stews and the Russians are all allies)
killers and thieves, and the clock is ticking. (Um, no thieves either)

So I'm puzzled. If it was the blurb for a totally different book that would just be a procedural error of some kind. But Grafton, Carmellini and Abu Qasim are all in there and Qasim is an Al Qaeda-like figure, there are Russians and a terror plot. So did the blurb-writer actually read it at all? If so, where did Fioratti and the mob come from? And why didn't Orion Books have the blurb read by an editor who'd actually read the book before sending it to print? These are all mysteries. Just not, you know, Meaning Of Life type mysteries.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Killer Turkey

Let me introduce Colin. He attacks almost anything I move in my (his) back yard. The best part is when I walk down to the back gate past his mound and he kicks leaves all over me. He also pecks the wheels on the mower, drags the hose around and even goes for palm fronds, as seen above. Can anyone send me a photo of NowhereBob?