Monday, 28 May 2007

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Geek criminals should be made to work harder to earn their jail cells say Finnish courts

Mikko Rauhala, the owner of a web site where instructions for circumventing CSS DVD copyright protection were posted will not be prosecuted. The decision made by the Helsinki District Court resulted from the adherence to a 2001 amendment to European copyright laws that state it is only illegal to defeat "effective technological measures".

Knowledge pertaining to outwitting DVD copyright protection has been widely available on the internet since 1999, and a plethora of idiot-proof applications designed to automate the process are merely a mouse click or two away, rendering CSS barriers defective.

You've got to marvel at the Catch-22 of this judicial loophole. Cracking copyright protection is only illegal while it's too tricky to accomplish. As soon as someone susses out how to do it, the protection can be deemed ineffective and the perpetrator of this heinous crime against society walks free.
I'm hoping the same laws apply to bank robbery because my local branch of Barclays has this really flimsy safe and the only security guard patrolling the area always leaves his post at 9.00am to buy a bacon sarnie from the greasy spoon next door.

Hey, if everyone does it, it must be OK. ;)

Monday, 14 May 2007

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Uninventing the search engine

Don't you hate it when stuff just works? It's predictable and boring, and if you ask me, anything falling into this category should be sabotaged immediately to spice things up a little.
Many web coders clearly share my view because this is precisely what they've been doing with their previously accurate, efficient and dependable search engines.

Take Googles' Image Search for example. Imagine your typical day; you're surfing the web when a sudden impulse to track down a picture of Spider-man wrestling a T-Rex grips you with full force. You visit Google Image Search and type in the keywords 'spiderman', 'wrestles' and 'trex'. Now you wouldn't imagine there would be all that many depictions of such a scene so it would be reasonable to expect a return of say less than half a dozen hits at the most. Well you'd be wrong; supposedly Google currently indexes 1030 images of the web-shooting wonder getting down and dirty with the "last and largest known carnosaur".

It's curious that amongst these 'hits' are images of King Kong, random politicians, The Simpsons, Bambi, fish corpses and Wacko Jacko's face embedded in a slice of toast, but none of them remotely resemble what I actually searched for.

The fact that there are lots of pictures containing isolated wrestlers, spidermen and dinosaurs might indicate that Google has applied the OR Boolean search operator to my query rather than the more useful AND one. This isn't the case, however; if you click on the 'Advanced Image Search' link you'll see that the keywords are automatically entered into the "find results related to all of the words" box to demonstrate which kind of search I performed prior to reaching this page. Just to confirm, clicking the search button again at this point returns exactly the same set of irrelevant flotsam.

It could be that I'll never ascertain for certain if Spider-Man (yes, I know that's the correct way to write it) ever unleashed the Pumphandle Michinoku driver II on a 43 foot long, 7.5 tonne 'tyrant lizard king'. It's no laughing matter.

That's just a drop in the ocean. All kinds of search engines across the board are falling prey to Boolean vandalism; software repositories, forums, recipe databases - the list is endless. The digg coders are prime suspects. Try probing it for stories involving two of the widest prevailing bedfellows, the 'llama' and 'blamange'. Go on, guess how many hits there are for this keyword combo. 89! That's eighty-nine, EIGHTY-NINE!

It appears that contrary to the norm, you can crowbar the AND operator in between them to narrow down the field, but why wouldn't this be the default setting to begin with as it is with Google? (well, the text search element of Google anyway). You wouldn't dial 999 to report a crime and when asked, "which service do you require" reply police... OR a florist please, either will do. So why would it make sense in any other context?

Thursday, 10 May 2007


"Where Have All The Vampires Gone?"

University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou has employed elementary mathematics to lampoon cliche vampire folklore as portrayed in popular literature and Hollywood. According to the prof, if - starting in the year 1600 - the first vampire sunk its fangs into one human per month, and that human subsequently metamorphosed into a vampire and went on to feast on another human, the entire human population would be eradicated in under two and a half years.
Well I have a different theory which demonstrates how unbeknownst to the majority of the populace, humans and vampires currently co-exist in perfect har... well a close approximation of a harmony of sorts.

According to European, Chinese and Indian legend, vampires suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder which manifests in the insuppressible impulse to count particles of grain, sand, sawdust, rice, poppy seeds and a variety of other multitudinous identical items. To keep the bloodsuckers occupied and out of mischief should they rise from their coffins to feed, people would scatter such pacifiers throughout graveyards. They'd be so engrossed in the task of gathering them all up that before they could shriek "bright light, bright light!" the sun would begin to ascend in the sky forcing them to seek shelter until the following night where the process would be repeated Groundhog Day stylee.
This technique is effective in warding off achluophobic vampires, but not so much against the newer breed of vampire that have evolved to withstand sunlight and walk shoulder to shoulder with their unwitting victims.

Keeping these blighters in check is one of the few things we have the reptilian humanoid Illuminati (or Global Elite) to thank for. You see, these extraterrestrial prison warders - otherwise known as the Babylonian Brotherhood - from the constellation Draco compete with the daylight vampires for human blood (the hybrids sired through cross-breeding with humans consume it to transform themselves from reptiles to hominids, duh!) and so it is in their interests to assure the survival of the species.

To achieve this end the Illuminati have been remotely controlling vampires through the use of advanced brainwashing neurotechnology. With their penchant for frenzied bean-counting and parasitic jugular-mauling in mind they have been coercing the pliable vampires to sublimate their urges with (arguably) less destructive occupations. Hence we have swathes of apparently human creatures hell-bent on becoming traffic wardens, chancellors (of the exchequer), tax inspectors and inland revenue administrators.

To wrap up, we are artificially being kept alive today by the very existence of penny-pinching, Neo-Nazi, public servant vultures (aka sedated vampires). It's obvious really if you think about it. I dare anyone to propose a flaw in the theory.