November 30, 2004

A little keywords experiment

I'm interested in how Google treats lists of links, whether these are positive or detrimental. As such, I've created a little keywords experiment. At the destination, I've placed a little counter to track referrers, ip addresses etc.

Posted by torque at 11:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A nice recursive query

update keywords set
word3 = IF ( locate( ' ', rest) , left( rest, locate( ' ', rest)-1 ) , rest),
rest = IF ( locate( ' ', rest) , substring( rest from locate( ' ', rest)+1 ) , '' )

Posted by torque at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Writing well

Sonja and I are reading "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser. It is remarkably well-written.

Posted by torque at 1:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 27, 2004


As some of you might have noticed, my domain got hacked today. Hacked hard. Every site index was replaced by garbage from boxocide and esx with SoBe, Jon, HighMR, dj-fu, VorTeX, x80, phr33k, VoRTeX, ResilienT, Mouse, eQ, rtyp3, xAvia, w0rf, Auschwitz, PhrackMan and Trippin Smurfs receiving additional credit. I guess I should be somewhat honored, but as you can imagine, I'm not amused.

My laminate flooring forum was defaced with some anti-bush rhetoric by MaCS from "#foz".

It looks as if all of this happened at around 27/Nov/2004:13:04:31.

Update. It turns out that there is an archive of boxo-esx attacks. I guess I'm not the only victim. I wonder who "reports" these to Zone-H. Makes you wonder if it isn't the defacer, hoping to get some publicity. I'm sure it brings the defacer a certain amount of pride to be listed in the Top Attackers list.

Posted by torque at 9:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Leitner cardfile system

Sebastian Leitner, a German psychologist, developed the Leitner cardfile system in the 70's. It is the basis for many memory-enhancing programs. How hard would it be to implement this technology? Graunle, an open-source implementation, has a good writeup on the method.

Posted by torque at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

To do lists

I envy the kids. It's nice not to have a to do list - especially one which you will never finish checking off. This is "biting more than you can chew".

When the kids bite off more than they can chew, or, rather, when we feed them more than they want to chew, they just spit it all back out. I guess I can't really blame them, though it would be nice if they could at least put it into a napkin. Actually, they don't really "spit", which is good. They simply, and without warning, let the gob of partially chewed grub drop out of their mouths. This is "dropping the ball".

Posted by torque at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The power of the pen

Skimming through Google News this morning I spotted a headline from Wired News which read "US Still Has Half of Falluja to Clear of Weapons". Pretty dismal huh? The fact is that "US Marines have cleared over 50 percent of Falluja's houses of weapons caches". Think of how much more optimistic the article could have been had it read "US Has Cleared a Majority of Falluja of Weapons". Ahh, the power of the media.

Posted by torque at 10:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

My Chinese name... 黄长春. Can you see that? It was written using Microsoft's Pinyin IME 3.0.

Posted by torque at 6:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Using photographs of public domain paintings

I've been wondering for a few months now about the use of internet published photographs of public domain paintings for both personal and commercial use. There are those who claim that the photographer holds a copyright (after the painter passes away) and those that claim otherwise. Here's a legal point of view, courtesy of nolo:

A photographer had to take a picture of the artwork for it to appear in the book -- and the photographer may claim copyright in that picture. As a general rule, you can probably copy a photo that is a slavish photographic copy of a public domain artwork. While the area is changing quickly, that is the latest legal word according to a recent court case, Bridgeman Art Library Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 25 F.Supp.2d 421 (SDNY 1999). However, this rule may not apply to photos of three-dimensional works such as sculpture or photos of artwork where the photographer exhibits some originality in the lighting or composition, for example, a photo of the Mona Lisa that is lit it in such a way that only Mona Lisa's face was visible, not the background. Not having glimpsed the angels of your particular concern, I cannot pronounce about their originality in this regard.

Here's more on the Bridgeman Art Library case from nolo.

At great expense, a company called the Bridgeman Art Library Ltd. obtained from several art museums the exclusive right to make and sell photographs of hundreds of public domain art masterpieces. Bridgeman licensed to the public both regular art photos and digital photos on CD-ROMS and through its website. A company called Corel Corp. obtained more than 150 images from the Bridgeman collection and published them without obtaining Bridgeman's permission. The images were included on clip art CD-ROMs and placed on the Corel website where they could be downloaded for a few dollars each, far less than Bridgeman charged. Corel was directly competing with Bridgeman and costing it licensing fees. Bridgeman sued Corel, claiming the photos were copyrighted, even though the paintings they portrayed were in the public domain. Bridgeman ultimately lost its suit, but whether photos of public domain paintings are themselves in the public domain remains a gray area. Bridgeman Art Library Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 25 F.Supp. 2d 421 (S.D. N.Y. 1999); see Chapter 5, Section N2.
The site nylawline, which doesn't seem to be up, has a clearer discussion on what exactly happened.
For a work to be copyrightable, it must be fixed in a tangible form and be an “original” work of authorship.”[i] The United States Supreme Court has stated that “[t]he sine qua non of copyright[ability] is originality” and that “[o]riginal, as the term is used in copyright, means only that the work was independently created by the author . . . and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity.”[ii] When a photograph is created very objectively and is almost identical to its subject matter, a question arises of whether the photograph has sufficient “originality” to be copyrightable.

It had been believed that almost any photograph had such “originality.” In Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp., however, Judge Kaplan of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York held that a group of skillfully rendered photographic depictions of public domain art works were not “original” for copyright purposes.[iii]

Bridgeman Art Library acquired the right to license photographic transparencies and digital images of public domain works. It sought images that copied the underlying works as faithfully as possible without any addition, alteration or transformation. Corel sold a CD-ROM containing images controlled by Bridgeman. Bridgeman sued, claiming ownership in the copyrights of the transparencies and digital images and alleging copyright infringement.

Although the Court recognized that faithful photographic replication of the original works required substantial skill and effort, it held that Bridgeman did not own the copyright in the resulting images.[iv] “Slavish copying” of another work, even where it reproduces the work into a different medium, does not have sufficient “originality” to be copyrightable.[v]

Notwithstanding Bridgeman, courts still have required only a minimal level of “originality.” In Eastern America Trio Products v. Tang Electronic Corp, for example, Judge Kaplan also held that defendant infringed plaintiff's copyright by using plaintiff's photographs in its own catalogs.[vi] Defendant claimed that the images were of common, industrial items and lacked sufficient “originality” to be protectible. The Court disagreed, finding “originality” in the lay-out, angles and lighting of plaintiff’s images. The Court noted that there is a “very broad scope for copyright in photographs, encompassing almost any photograph that reflects more than 'slavish copying.’” “Originality” may be founded upon other factors such as choice of subject matter, timing, and selection of camera, film or lens.[vii]

Posted by torque at 1:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cool SVG games

Source: Dale Ellis

Game Description Author Date Added

Mouse Game Dale Ellis Move the mouse around trying to shoot the balls as quickly as possible. 07 November 2003
Pong Dale Ellis Pong game with Tennis scoring 07 November 2003
SVG Radiers Chris Peto Game similar to space radiers by Chris Peto - [] 10 November 2003
Bird Hunt Dale Ellis Game in where you have to a minute to kill as many birds by clicking on them, the faster, smaller birds earn you more points. 26 November 2003
Crossword player Lisa Koonts Do cross words in SVG 1 December 2003
svgGP James Ross Click on the word race to start, steer with mouse, click to brake. Automatic full throttle. 08 December 2003
SVG Turtles Marek Raida Rack up the points by carrying ice cubes across the river and collecting the fruits. 15 December 2003
SVG Olympics Dale Ellis 100 Metres and Long jump event, Try and beat the SVG Record. 26 January 2004
SVG Cowboys Marek Raida Shootout game using your mouse to shoot the bandits. 11 February 2004
Pipes Holger Will Remake of the classic "Pipes" game. 27 February 2004
Gunship Jeff C Shoot as many objects as possible, move around using the mouse, shoot with any key. 05 March 2004
Crashdown Holger Will Addictive puzzle game. The goal is to remove all coloured balls by clicking groups of the same colour. 09 March 2004
Connect 4 Holger Will The classic game of Connect 4 in SVG. 19 April 2004
Space Defense Stephen Space Defense is a third person space shooter. 26 April 2004

I think the Bird Hunt game has a lot of potential. Incidentally, you may have wondered whatever happened to SVG (scalable vector graphics). Jon Udell happens to have a relevant article on just this subject.

Remember SVG? The acronym stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. In a posting to the xml-dev mailing list back in 2000, XML co-inventor Tim Bray said: “SVG is going to change the face of the Web.” If that prediction had come true, we’d have used SVG to visualize the results of the recent election. Instead, as Macromedia’s (Profile, Products, Articles) Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch noted on his Weblog, the election was closely divided, but developers voted overwhelmingly to use Flash for interactive maps, dynamic tables, and live charts.

Posted by torque at 12:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

Testing yeast

Add one-half teaspoon of sugar to the yeast when stirring it into the water to dissolve. If it foams and bubbles within 10 minutes, you know the yeast is alive and active.

Hmm, how much water, and how much yeast? How much foam should I expect? That wasn't very helpful was it. We have a substantial amount of expired yeast that doesn't seem to be causing bread to rise anymore. Probably the yeast is gone.

Ok, I've waited for about 5 minutes now and there appears to be some foam. Sonja commented though that if it were really working I would probably be more amazed. Should the foam be spilling over? I wonder if can I just double the amount of yeast if it is partially dead.


Posted by torque at 11:27 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tagging kids, revisited

Do I really care which kid leaves? I just want kids to leave only with permission. What I want is not RFID but electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Three types of EAS systems dominate the retail industry. In each case, an EAS tag or label is attached to an item. The tag is then deactivated, or taken from an active state where it will alarm an EAS system to an inactive state where it will not flag the alarm. If the tag is a hard, reusable tag, a detacher is used to remove it when a customer purchases the item it's attached to. If it's a disposable, paper tag, it can be deactivated by swiping it over a pad or with a handheld scanner that "tells" the tag it's been authorized to leave the store. If the item has not been deactivated or detached by the clerk, when it is carried through the gates, an alarm will sound.

It looks like the detectors cost about $1000-$2000. Labels are cheap, 2000 for about $100. The labels are deactivated using a "detuner" which costs about $300. Now the question is, is it ok for the kid to stand next to the deactivator for too long?

Ahh, here's a good activate/reactivate system. Used widely in Europe, the electromagnetic (EM) system relies on a magnetic, iron-containing strip.

What most people refer to as an electromagnetic tag is actually a metal wire or ribbon that has high permeability, making it easy for magnetic signals to flow through it, according to Sensormatic's EAS Product Co. CTO Hap Patterson. "When we drive the tag, flux is being allowed to flow through the tag until it's saturated," he says. "When it's saturated, from a magnetic perspective, it begins to look like air. Saturation occurs abruptly and is an important part of the design of the tag."
So, activate the kid when they come in, and deactivate them on the way out. Here's another view from "tagcompany".

Posted by torque at 4:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RFID bracelets for kids, continued

The RFID tags I'm interested in do not have to have many bits. An 8-bit system is probably sufficient. RFID's in the market today have substantially more information as they are used to tag huge numbers of objects. What I do want is a thin, passive RFID tag which has a range of about 1 m. The goal is to have some sort of doorway, which will trigger an alarm if a child leaves without proper (parental) authorization. Oh, and the tags don't have to be writeable, read-only is good enough.

Here's an interesting thread.

Posted by torque at 4:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RFID bracelets for kids

I'm interested in an RFID check-in and check-out system for kids. I guess it really doesn't have to be RFID in the digital sense of the word. It would work much like a library. Bar-code bracelets might work too, but it would be nice to do the transaction remotely. There's an interesting article on RFID at Kindercity in Switzerland. This system is used to charge the kids' debit account when visiting particular attractions.

Synometrix sells some "low cost disposable RFID bracelets" which have a reading distance of 8 cm. An article in June 2004 describes RFID at Legoland.

Children entering the parks will be fitted with an RFID bracelet that can be tracked anywhere within its boundaries - meaning that should they run off and find themselves lost, the parks' staff will easily be able to track them down and alert parents via SMS.
I wonder if the kids are tracked at each location or if the range is large enough that they can have some large towers handling the detection process. The company which does this is called kidspotter. Ahh, here it is. Sounds expensive!
KidSpotter T2 tags. These sturdy, waterproof tags measure just 62mm x 40mm and include a variety of functional mounting options such as wristband attachment and a badge clip. Each tag unit has a unique identifier that is the MAC address of the 802.11b radio, allowing the software to recognize an individual tag. The tag is the only long-life Wi-Fi tag on the market, with a battery life of 3 years and a weight of just 35 grams.
More details are available in Jonathan Collins' in-depth article on the whole system. In fact, the core system was developed by Bluesoft. Cost? List price is $85 per tag. Legoland has 500 and plans to buy thousands more. Receivers cost between $3000 and $4000 each. There are 38 in Legoland covering approximately 2.5 million square feet. Not bad. Tags last for about 3 years and are rented by parents for 3 euros per day. Still, a bit expensive for the church nursery.

Posted by torque at 4:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Holy sandwich!

sandwich_narrowweb__200x270.jpgThis is completely bizarre. Today, news24 reported on a 10-year old sandwich being sold for nearly $30,000.

A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich whose maker says bears the image of the Virgin Mary, was sold for $28 000 after one of the most bizarre bidding wars on the auction website eBay.

The cheese sandwich had received offers as high as $99m before eBay officials called the seller and urged her to verify the bids to make sure they were legitimate

The winning bid was made by GoldenPalace, an online casino. Of course, you can guess how many links now link to this casino. I'd say it was probably a great business decision.

Posted by torque at 1:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

W32.HLLW.Gaobot - Gaobot creates infected runsvc32

What to do? With a few days left for my presentation, I suddenly found my laptop infected with this Gaobot virus. Symantec detected the problem but was unable to clean, disinfect or delete the file. I subsequently deleted runsvc32.exe after rebooting. The funny thing was that this executable was lying in a very random folder. From Greatis Software it is clear that this virus most likely infects through the network, through the DCOM PRC vulnerability. So am I still infected? How do I kill this? Symantec has a removal tool.

Posted by torque at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 3, 2004

Massive voter turnout in New Mexico


Courtesy Yahoo.


Courtesy NYTimes.

Posted by torque at 12:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 1, 2004

Car seats on buses, shuttles, etc.

I wrote previously on car seat laws in California. This time I'm trying to find out what the laws are concerning car seats in shuttles, like Super Shuttle, and buses when the vehicles will be operated on freeways, e.g., to SFO. The car seat laws I posted refer me to Section 27315 which unfortunately is still unclear. Well, unclear assuming that buses and shuttles are somehow exempt. It states:

As used in this section, "motor vehicle" means any passenger vehicle or any motortruck or truck tractor, but does not include a motorcycle.
A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt. This paragraph does not apply to the operator of a taxicab, as defined in Section 27908, when the taxicab is driven on a city street and is engaged in the transportation of a fare-paying passenger. The safety belt requirement established by this paragraph is the minimum safety standard applicable to employees being transported in a motor vehicle. This paragraph does not preempt any more stringent or restrictive standards imposed by the Labor Code or any other state or federal regulation regarding the transportation of employees in a motor vehicle.
Super Shuttle may well count as a taxicab. In Section 27908, a taxicab is defined as
...a passenger vehicle designed for carrying not more than eight persons, excluding the driver, and used to carry passengers for hire. "Taxicab" shall not include a charter-party carrier of passengers within the meaning of the Passenger Charter-party Carriers' Act, Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code.
Sounds like Super Shuttle to me. Interestingly, this means you don't need car seats in taxicabs, or even seat belts!

Posted by torque at 8:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

steel buildings

I've been getting quite a bit of comment spam on steel buildings... a quick glance at Overture's bid tool reveals exactly why. Top bid? $4.50, followed by $4.25 and $4.00. While not "mesothelioma" it is pretty rock solid. Time to make a steel buildings site me thinks.

Posted by torque at 6:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack