Monday, March 17, 2008


This time, I would like to comment on some recent developments. MI5 announced wanting access to data that by default would allow them to spy on their citizens.

I find this development highly concerning. Would you like your government to check your daily lifepattern based on nothing but them saying it might fight terrorism? In other words, being treated as a terrorist by default unless the secret service declares that you are not?

I call upon all the voices of the free world to demand that we are not suspects by default, and to once again let the government be checked by the people and not the other way round.

Remember the thousands who died to warrant our freedom, and honour their cause.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Microsoft wants Yahoo, Google protests...

For the record, so do I. Mainly, because I am a satisfied Yahoo! Mail user and I very much dislike the idea of being back at Microsoft - the whole fricking point of me changing from Hotmail to Yahoo, oh, 6 or 7 years ago now.

But let's focus on the more interesting part of this deal. Whereas Microsoft wants Yahoo, the feeling clearly isn mutual - Yahoo is just with its back against the wall, looking for an escape route. No merger or hostile takeover by Microsoft would be benificial to Yahoo as a brand, but they have not done well in the years past and shareholders will probably take the money (even with the Microsoft stock reducing the market value of the offer).

In the meanwhile, Google is scheming and plotting behind the big doors of the Google fortress. Their claims against Microsoft are hardly likely to be taken seriously - after all, their takeover of DoubleClick was criticized by the other parties involved in this deal. No bid they bring will and can be taken seriously, for all their goodwill that would certainly be considered too monopolist. They could try with the EU, for in the EU a takeover that helps strengthening a monopolist in its market share is illegal - however, it would have to be with strong evidence that Yahoo! could support the marketshare for Windows or Internet Explorer. The latter of course might be possible (just imagine the horror: yahoo! mail working only by IE 7 standards rather than W3C standards). My biggest guess is they'll not rely on politicians to do the work for them. They probably prefer scheming with companies and venture capitalists to buy yahoo, split it up dramatically (this WILL be a slaughter) and sell each individual part for its remaining worth, with google compensating possible losses. Without serious engagers who would have Yahoo, that would be much preferable to Microsoft gaining control of it all.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The breaking of a Rechtsstaat

So, it has finally happened. The Netherlands, known for its tolerance and liberty on the outside is no longer a constitutional state, a rechtsstaat, as we for ages have proclaimed ourselves with pride and dignity.

According to wikipedia, in a Rechtsstaat, the power of the state is limited in order to protect citizens from the arbitrary excercise of autority. In a Rechtsstaat the citizens share both legally based civil liberties and can use the courts.

Effectively, this resulted in three powers for the Netherlands: the lawmakers (representation of the people known as Parliament - these are the first and second chamber. One is elected directly, the other through the provinces) make and approve, amend, or dissaprove laws, regulations and they check the government. The authorities are the prime minister and cabinet, executing the laws and decisions made with and by the parliament. And thirdly, there is the court of law, the judges. Anyone that is accused of breaking the law goes before a judge and gets a fair trial. Or that is how it used to be.

Under new regulations, it is provided that the OM, the prosecuting force under the direction of government, can sentence people to fines or penal labour for crimes that have a maximum of 6 years imprisonment. To avoid confusion: penal labour is not done in an enclosed facility. However, being sentenced to either gets you a criminal record, and now there is no judge to see to it that convictions are made based on true evidence and that prosecution was legal. After initial conviction, the convicted has 2 (two!) weeks to appeal and have the case brought to a judge.

It must be said that I find this shocking, though not surprising. Shocking, because I fear I had hoped that after forced saving of internet usage data, propositions to internet sensorship, all but unlimited right to phone taps, there would be something about our freedom that wouldn't be thorn down. Stupid me.

Under the light of truth and freedom, I must hereby declare that the Netherlands as such is no longer a free state or a rightful democracy. Either of these titles belong only to those countries who would not give up freedom to gain security, be it true or false. In this case, I fear the devil we know might have been the better one.. at least there was no real terrorist in the Netherlands yet. I think the threat of a dictator is far higher at the moment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Picking up the pieces

Rather than writing about it, I decided to even more concern myself with actions. Those actions this time inspired me to write again. I chose the aggressive way to react to an aggressive kind of youth wanting to inspire fear upon me. No worries, there wasn't violence (though I must admit, it was kind of tempting to throw the kid into the nearby water), but I did raise my voice. Combine this with the knowledge that I have a loud voice and that the surroundings were as good as a roman Arena for using it, this must have had some impact. The annoying little kid immediately started bragging to his friends about how I couldn't do a thing about him. True, legally, I couldn't.

Let's just get to the first point. The guy came from behind me with his cell phone rubbishing out gangster-talk or something aggressive these kids call music. He was a white kid, I'd say 14, short hair (but not too short), dyed blond and combed into spikes, with at least one shiny fake-gold piece of crapmetal decorating his ear, riding some crappy old, black bike. Though it might have been another colour - I didn't pay much attention to it, and it was dark. The guy gave me this kind of stare that said I shouldn't be singing (I was) or whatever it was meant to do. I wasn't impressed and just stared back coldly, probably giving him the impression that I dissapproved of his music. Quite frankly, I do - but as long as its on the street, I don't mind much. It's the attitude that comes with it that bothers me.

So, along he rode. Before too long I heard some talking up in the street and riding down came two bikes: the guy and another bike hosting two customers of equally valuable nature. Same age, I guess, foul-mouthed as well, though the first guy was obviously their leader. I let them go, kept an eye on my dog (whom I was taking for a walk) and raised a new song. Since I had finished my old one, and I thought that keeping quiet might encourage them to become bold or worse - let them think I was impressed. Now, in my vision, letting them think I'm impressed is the worst I can do. Maybe for now, they'll leave me alone - but it also means they can scare people if they want, whenever they want. Implicitly, letting them think anything tells them they're right.

So, I raised a song. Walked on for a bit, onto the area around the basketball field. Along comes Mr. Teenage Foulmouth and rides past, about half a meter (if not less) from my dog. Had he been closer, he could have hit him. That, for me, was the trigger. If he has a problem with me, let him come at me, but he should stay away from my dog. The dog can't help it, and if the dog bites him because he feels threatened, guess who gets the death penalty? Not Mr. Foulmouth. So I told the bastard, though the name I called him was less prudent, to whatch where he was going. My dog went after him, and since the dog does have a history of chasing bikes and being dominant, I called back on him quite fiercely. The guy acted like the dog wasn't going to do anything (luckily for him, the dog wasn't, or I would have been too late, I think).

Anyway, when we went up the stairs towards the streets, I called the dog close to me to avoid him chasing another dog. The guy started taunting me about calling my dog and I shouted at him to shut the f4 up.

I'm kind of regretting I didn't throw him in the water. I might have, had it not been for the fact that I had to watch my dog.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

"Blast Maxine Nahman!"

It has been blogged about before, a few months ago, but I think this needs a little extra attention. Why? Basically, because I feel the need to rant about it.

Maxine Nahman sends out mails, somewhat sollicited (I guess most victims would be SEO-marketeers) but very frequently and very annoying. The trouble started for me when I used a search engine submit tool that automatically gets you into a ton of mailing lists too. No problem there, most of the newsletter even have something interesting to report upon occassion. This one is the exception: "Maxine Nahman", or whoever is behind it, sends out a lot of mails with titles like: "Blast your ads!", "Guaranteed Traffid" and "Get google ads free!"

I read the latter one and even clicked the link that came with it only to read more self-declared praise and (probably fake) references about how great her "secret" was that allowed her to use google adwords without paying for it. She claimed this to be legal and claimed she wanted you to become part of her "secret". I'll spare you the number of times she repeated this, but it was a lot. In the end, of course, it boiled down to "pay me this and I'll let you in on it". I figured as much and did not, but I imagine people have fallen for this trick and paid money for this "secret". I doubt that any such thing would exist, and even more: I doubt it'd be legal and then remain unfixed by google. There was more that turned the improbability into impossibility, but I'll spare you that also. If you want, I'll forward the mail to you, so you can read it for yourself. After all, I have plenty of mails to spare.

Anyway, my call to other victims of Nahman - could we in some way join forces and get this guy/girl off the web?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Multiply - Share your illegal stuff with your friends

In the shadow of the current discussion on "to DRM or not to DRM" is still the background-issue that has been playing for years now: illegal filesharing. I thought the situation was under control, though of course, it's still a serious threat to the music business (and any other business that depends on intellectual property rights for its income).

The more shocking it was for me to discover, a sort of social community in the style of myspace. Apparently, it is possible on Multiply to upload music files without limit. Registered users can download these. The user agreement says you are not allowed to violate intellectual property.

However, Multiply appears to be a nest of illegal filesharers. Indeed, my very first encounter with the site was a profile which was sharing some tens of artists, one of which I looked into had over a hundred MP3-files for the taking.. so he must have been sharing hundreds. It's not an exception.. everywhere I went, as far as that's possible on the very not-browsable member structure of Multiply (I used google domain search for some test), there were signs of this. Not all of them that extreme and some not even illegal.. I encountered a profile that was making a stand against the infringement practices on Multiply.

I was shocked and decided to look into the Terms of a little better. I found this:

You represent, warrant and agree that no materials of any kind submitted by you or otherwise posted or shared by you through the Service will violate or infringe upon the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other personal or proprietary rights or contain libelous, defamatory or otherwise unlawful material, or violate any other laws or regulations.

You understand and agree that Multiply may, but is not obligated to, review and delete any Member Content that, in the sole judgment of Multiply, violate this Agreement or which might be offensive, illegal, or that might violate the rights, harm, or threaten the safety of Multiply, Multiply's Members or users, or the public, without notice. Multiply assumes no responsibility for monitoring the content posted on the Web site by Members or the conduct of its Members.

In other words, they're saying: "You're not allowed to commit crimes in my home. I'll be sitting here, and I preserve the right to watch and stop if you start committing crimes, but I am not obligated to put you out of my home and I don't take responsibility for anything you do under my nose." I find this disturbing. Quite apart from the fact that they're wrong to be so careless in their dealing with the lawfulness what happens on their site, they're also accomplices. The user is not only, let's say, dealing drugs in the home of Multiply. He's storing the raw cocaine in his basement!

Of course, this is an old method of landowners getting rich on criminals using their warehouses for storage of stolen property. "We don't know what's in there and we don't care as long as they pay us." However, when you see white traces of cocaine running from the warehouse to the quay, who wants to claim that the owner doesn't know the contents of his warehouse?

My advice to Multiply is the following: try to convince the judge that you thought those MP3's were all very popular meditative recordings of nature sounds. It might help.

My call to everyone else: boycott Multiply, or sue them.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Good Deed

The opposite of failing is success, and is far more gratifying. Success is easy to achieve, if you take small successes into account. I do that, because it's these small successes that change peoples minds.

A few days ago I was riding on my bike towards a friend of mine. There was a fierce wind that tried to blow me off the road. I was still in the village I live in, so I had quite a bit to go. While passing the community center, I saw a flag lying nearly on the streat. On closer inspection, it was the village weapon-flag. So I picked it up, put it inside and walked in to tell one of the volunteers behind the bar what had probably happened and that they should leave the flag off while the storm lasted.

The volunteer was highly surprised at this act. Maybe because of my age or maybe because in general people stopped caring. In any case, something I think should have been done by anyone with the possibility to do so, was only done by me and people were surprised at me doing that. This is the good example I'm talking about. These people were from my own village, where something like this would have been normal twenty years ago. Considering that, good deeds are a good way to impress people, make people feel better about society. Especially the small ones, for which you don't get any media-attention. For the moment, they are "drops of water on a very hot plate". But enough drops of water will cool the plate down.

Just make sure that a good deed is a good deed. They should take little time and be done often. The success is when people start smiling because of it. And tell me, don't you think smiles are part of a happy society?