Saturday, December 1, 2007

Little Eddy Blog #13 Here, There and Everywhere

Greetings. It’s Saturday morning. Time to update ye ole Blog. In last week’s blog I mentioned a website called StumbleUpon. Michelle Oshen who has a webpage, used those very words to announce that she has stumbled upon a most weird video. To begin your December Little Eddy experience run don’t walk to copy the following URL and paste it into the browser of your choice:
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What kind of a mind would conceive an advertising campaign for a bank which would use a John Belushi look alike dressed in a Saturday Night Live Killer Bee outfit doing mime? IBC is the bank, and one commercial which has the Belushi lookalike mouthing the Hallelujah chorus celebrates the fact that the banks, which are nested in super markets, are open Sundays. The use of the Belushi image brings up an interesting question, does the ad agency have an obligation to pay any kind of royalty to the Belushi estate or to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels for the out and out coopting of a unique characterization and image that Belushi, now lamentably deceased, had created. It brings to mind the only other equivalent incident I can recall in which the image of another deceased person was used to sell products. These were the IBM commercials of the mid-1980’s which used a Charley Chaplin lookalike also doing mime as a vehicle to sell IBM personal computers. Back then I remember wondering if IBM had to license the image from the Chaplin estate. Or if in death the inimitable Chaplin had slipped into the public domain, his image fair game.
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From come two items of interest. As a Comcast isp user I took note of this: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a report (PDF) containing analysis of Comcast's Internet traffic interference activities. The EFF's study provides strong evidence that Comcast is using packet-forging to disrupt peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing on their network.

According to the report, the EFF used an open-source packet sniffer called Wireshark to analyze network traffic while attempting to seed public domain literature on BitTorrent with a Comcast broadband connection. The tests confirmed that BitTorrent performance was being selectively degraded by unexpected TCP reset packets. Previous independent research conducted by the AP is consistent with the findings published by the EFF. If you’re interested there’s more at the following URL:

And in the field of music and recording arstechnica reports that:
One of the Big Four labels is apparently unhappy with its return on investment when it comes to funding industry trade groups such as the IFPI and RIAA. British label EMI, which was recently purchased by a private equity fund, is reportedly considering a significant cut to the amount of money it provides the trade groups on an annual basis. With music revenues dropping with no end in sight, despite the increased popularity of online sales, all of the Big Four labels are being faced with tough budget choices.

The industry has been quick to lay the blame for its tough economic times squarely at the feet of pirates, but there are other factors at work too. The industry's glacial adaptation to changing consumer expectations around how and where they listen to music has done a lot to hurt the labels, and consumers are less willing to buy CDs now that they can cherry pick their favorite tracks from the iTunes Store. Even retailers are crying out for an end to DRM. Giving the music industry credit where credit is due, the labels have made some progress in the past year, especially when it comes to realizing how much consumers detest DRM. But one of the chief activities of the RIAA is coordinating the Big Four labels' legal campaign, and those thousands of lawsuits have done nothing but generate ill will from record fans, while costing the labels millions of dollars and doing little (if anything) to actually reduce the amount of file-sharing going on.

In fact, the RIAA freely admits that the legal campaign is a real money pit, and EMI's new ownership may be very leery of continuing to pour money down that particular rat hole. Should the other labels follow suit — and there's no indication that they will — it would, at the very least, force the RIAA to reexamine its commitment to its legal strategy.
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In a followup to our story of last week to warm the heart of Lou Dobbs (CNN’s anchor who has discovered that the true scourge of modern day America is neither the outsourcing of American jobs overseas nor the incompetence of the current Republican administration although they rank pretty high, but rather the fact that illegal aliens are freely walking our streets) comes the story and picture of the man who gave up his walk into the United States to stay with a nine year old boy whose mother had been killed in an accident. "I am a father of four children. For that, I stayed," Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes said in Spanish from his home in the Mexican state of Sonora. "I never could have left him. Never." Authorities said Cordova may have saved the life of 9-year-old Christopher Buztheitner, whose mother was killed when their van ran off a cliff in a remote area north of the Mexican border on Thanksgiving Day.

The 26-year-old bricklayer was two days into his walk and about 50 miles from Tucson when he saw the boy, who had walked away from the crash.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Magdalena de Kino, Cordova said Christopher had scrapes on his leg and was dressed in shorts despite the desert cold. The boy had his dog with him and was holding a side mirror from the wrecked van. Neither Cordova nor Christopher spoke the other's language, but the boy took the migrant to the edge of a canyon and showed him the accident site.

Authorities said Christopher and his mother, 45-year-old Dawn Alice Tomko, had been in the area camping. Tomko was driving on a U.S. Forest Service road when she lost control of the van, which landed 300 feet from the road. By the looks of the mangled van down below, Cordova said, it was obvious the boy's mother had died. The child was distraught but did not cry.

"I felt frustrated and sad because I couldn't do anything for the mother," Cordova said. "And I didn't know how to console the boy, so I just sat next to him." Cordova gave the boy the sweater he was wearing, climbed down to the van, and found chocolate and cookies to feed him. He then built a bonfire, and the two hunkered down. The boy slept most of the night; Cordova kept watch and tended the fire. Fourteen hours later, a group of hunters found the pair and called for help. U.S. Border Patrol agents took Cordova into custody, and Christopher was flown to a hospital in Tucson. Christopher was reunited with family over the weekend; a message left with his uncle was not immediately returned Wednesday. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said Cordova is "very, very special and compassionate" and may have saved the boy's life.

Adriana Hoyos Rodriguez, the mayor of Magdalena de Kino, called Cordova a hero. "He left everything to save that boy," she said. Cordova said he wanted to come to the United States to earn money to feed his four children, who live with their mother, and help support his girlfriend's three children. "I have two families, many mouths to feed," he said. He said that even though his trip was thwarted, he is glad to be back home and wishes Christopher the best. "I hope he has a good life," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Mexican consulate in Nogales said the office is working to obtain a short-term visa for Cordova so he can come to Arizona and be recognized for his actions.
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One of Google’s more well known slogans is to “do no evil.” We might add that this is a most commendable position for a giant corporation to take, and we might hope that other big name American Corporations like General Electric, General Motors, Boeing and Haliburton would consider joining the party. However, one recent account by Reuters has Google’s YouTube subsidiary suspending the account of a prominent Egyptian anti-torture advocate who had been posting clips of what he said was brutal behavior by some Egyptian policemen, the activist said. Wael Abbas said close to 100 pages he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutalities, voting irregularities, and anti-government demonstrations.

YouTube, owned by Google Inc. did not respond to a written request for comment. The message on Abbas’s YouTube user page, read: “This account is suspended.” Abbas was a key player last year in distributing a clip of an Egyptian bus driver, his hands bound, being sodomized with a stick by a police officer – imagery that sparked an uproar in a country where rights groups say torture is commonplace. That tape prompted an investigation that led to a rare conviction of two policemen, who were sentenced to three years in prison for torture. Egypt says it opposes torture and prosecutes police against whom it has evidence of misconduct.

YouTube regulations state that "graphic or gratuitous violence" is not allowed and warn users not to post such videos. Repeat violators of YouTube guidelines may have their accounts terminated, according to rules posted on the site. Rights activists said by shutting down Abbas's account, YouTube was closing a significant portal for information on human rights abuses in Egypt just as Cairo was escalating a crackdown on opposition and independent journalists. The Internet has emerged in Egypt as a major forum for critics of the Egyptian government. "The goal is not showing the violence, it is showing police brutality. If his goal was just to focus on violence without any goal, that is a problem. But Wael is showing police brutality in Egypt," said Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Elijah Zarwan, a prominent blogger and activist in Egypt, said he thought it was unlikely that YouTube had come under official Egyptian pressure, and was more likely reacting to the graphic nature of the videos. "I suspect they are doing it not under pressure from the Egyptian government but rather because it made American viewers squeamish," he said. "But to shut them down because some people might find the truth disturbing is unconscionable." (Writing by Cynthia Johnston) The full Story is at:

I’m quite sure Google would not intentionally pull material like that under pressure from a government, at least not without leaking to the world that it was being forced to do so. YouTube can and does serve many purposes, and one of them can surely be as conscience to the world. We join with the blogger Zarwan in thinking that it is a shame that such a potent tool for exposing police excesses has been shut down. Perhaps the matter could be solved by YouTube opening a section of it’s site entitled Police Brutality. I’m sure they would get submissions far and wide, and not just limited to Egypt either. The squeamish would be forewarned to enter at their own risk, but the conscience of the world would continue to have an outlet. And Google would again be reaffirming it’s dedication to the concept, Do No Evil, even extending that to being a repository the evil others are doing in the world. CNN picked upon this Thursday, the Situation Room bringing the story to a somewhat wider audience than this blog will. We shall see what solution, if any, Google and YouTube will choose to come up with.
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According to Jonathan Fildes, Science and Technology reporter for BBC News, A lack of “big thinking” by politicians has stifled a scheme to distribute laptops (known as XO) to children in the developing world, a spokesman said. Walter Bender of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) said politicians were unwilling to commit because “change equals risk.” But, he said, there needed to be a “dramatic change” because education in many countries was “failing” children.”

OLPC was started in 2002 by Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Negroponte has had high profile run-ins with major technology firms. He told an audience at a Linux event: “If I am annoying Microsoft and Intel then I figure I am doing something right.” Earlier this year, Professor Negroponte also accused Intel of selling its own cut-price laptop - the Classmate - below cost to drive him out of markets. He said that Intel “should be ashamed of itself” and said its tactics has hurt his mission “enormously.” Within weeks it was announced that Intel had joined the board of OLPC amid speculation that the firm was unhappy about the XO using a processor from its main rival AMD. Full story at:
For the Fake Steve Jobs’ take on this check here:
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widget |?wijit| noun informal
• a small gadget or mechanical device, esp. one whose name is unknown or unspecified.
• Computing a component of a user interface that operates in a particular way.
ORIGIN 1930s: perhaps an alteration of gadget .
Oxford American Dictionaries

USA Today has a story on widgets, tiny little web applications which do interesting things. As an example they tell the story of, the quintessential struggling web company barely hanging on as it burned through $17 million in seed money. In May after a name change – “I Like” – it had 3 million registered users. Then came a widget which could be put on Facebook pages and “I like” now has 10 million users on Facebook, 15 million overall, and it is growing to the tune of 3 million a month. Widgets are mini applications which can do things like create slide shows, or a shout out to a friend. "Widgets are an extension of someone's personality," says Chris DeWolfe, co-founder of News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace. "It offers a window into their taste in music, how they feel at a certain time, their opinions. Just having friends and sending messages on a profile can be utilitarian."
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As readers of this blog know full well, we occasionally gaze upon Apple, Inc. through our very own specially tinted rose colored glasses. There are a couple of items of interest concerning the big Apple which is a company, not a city, which have appeared on the web in recent days. The first of these is from, and notes that analysts for the investment bank Piper Jaffray monitored Apple Stores’ traffic over the Black Friday weekend, where they found a strange phenomonon happening. A part of their account follows:

Analysts for investment bank Piper Jaffray spent six hours this past weekend monitoring traffic at mall-based Apple retail stores and found that the shops exerted a gravitational pull on shoppers who came within 25 feet of the entranceways. Specifically, analyst Gene Munster and his team found that 27 percent of people walking within 25-feet of an Apple store entrance wound up entering the store. Once in the stores, however, only a fraction of those shoppers actually purchased anything. But Munster in a note to clients early Monday morning said he believes the draw may be indicative of consumers' future purchase decisions.

“The important point is this gravitational pull highlights that consumers' future buying intentions could be shifting to Apple from PCs," he explained. "If materialized, this shift should benefit Apple in 2008 and 09."

In reading the comments following N.Y.Times reporter Saul Hansell’s article in BITS called: A Little Attack Ad for Apple (The “Don’t Give Up on Vista” ad which was published in several computer related web sites and is available thanks to YouTube at: I came across a comment by one Lee Blair who described how he had for years been a major skeptic concerning Apple but who was finally won over by the Apple experience itself. I thought his commentary noteworthy as he describes his subsequent conversion in unemotional and measured tones. His complete comment follows:

Like other posters to this blog, I resisted Apple. I bought a Creative Zen Nomad rather than an iPod. The interface between the Nomad and my computer was always a crapshoot, but I told myself that’s how USB works. After all, I had 6 or 7 computers, and USB worked pretty much the same with all of them. Pop-ups constantly alerting me of new hardware, or drivers that had to be installed were just part of the process. You couldn’t even buy certain hardware because computer manufacturers and their Help desks told us of monstrous compatibility issues. Try having a Seagate drive and a Maxtor drive, if you dare!

I worked for a local newspaper, and learned to use Macs. I’m kidding, there was no learning curve. They sat me in front of a desktop and off I went. Still, I resisted Apple, mainly because I (wrongly) believed that since Apple only represented 10% of the business, it wasn’t as good. I remember when Apple licensed their product and Umax made a few desktops their way. I still wasn’t impressed.

Then one day my son bought me an iBook, and got himself an iMac. Gee, the USB sure works different there! I even had Firewire onboard. (Forget that on a Wintel PC!) Everything I plugged in worked immediately, every time. I bought the Applecare, mainly because of my history. That was over two years ago, and I haven’t used it once. Yes, Apple costs more, but it is so worth it. By the way, where’s the Genius Bar at the Windows store?

My iPods work seamlessly with my iTunes, every time I plug them in. Cameras, Drives, whatever, they all work, every time! Quite simply, Macs are for people: Windows machines are for business. No wonder nothing gets done at work. It’s on Windows.

Vista has been out a year. I haven’t bought a new PC, so I don’t have it. Sounds like it’s a mess. I used to be first on line to get the latest version of Windows. Not any more; I bought a family pack of Leopard, since everyone in my family now has a Mac. Not a single installation glitch! Windows wishes on their children’s souls they could have an applet like Time Machine, but they are too busy figuring out how to charge us for the air we breathe. Apple may make ads that make Windows users look like fools, but after using both products, I say every Windows user can look foolish all by their lonesome.

As for Jay (#13), Adobe charges an arm and a leg for its Windows software, too! But I bet the Apple versions work better. As for your last comment, why on Earth would you ever want to run the Mac OS on a Windows platform? It may not work properly with all the adware, spyware and other garbage resident in the Windows platform. Too many compatibilty issues. It’s obvious why you might want to run Windows software on the Mac OS, it does work! In fact, their doing it as we speak.

Well, gotta go! I’m picking up my iPhone. It may not be as great as a Windows phone, but I’m pretty sure it will do exactly what I plan to use it for. Making phonecalls, listening to music, viewing photos. My Windows Smartphone can make phonecalls, and not much else. It’s like I said: Apple doesn’t have to make Windows look foolish; Windows can do that all by itself. — Posted by Lee Blair
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Since acquiring my iMac in January I had been using the dictionary widget when I needed help with a word, and when the word didn’t appear (or more likely I had misspelled it) I turned to MerriamWebster’s online dictionary ( which if it doesn’t have your particular spelling gives you a list of possibilities which is usually sufficient to find the word you want unless of course you have been extremely creative and it exists only in your head. But the other day I happened to be perusing my applications folder and Voila! I discovered I had a dictionary application lurking in there that I didn’t even know I had. I opened it and it turned out to be the Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus. I immediately dragged it’s icon to the dock, and called up the iKey editor to make a short cut which will allow me to call it up from the keyboard.

I use the option key to call up two stage web addresses (for instance option+D first opens Camino and then the web address for the Merriam Webster Dictionary.) To open applications I use just the control key plus a letter which usually is the first letter of the application. I use control+D to open the Oxford Dictionary. This is handy as Oxford has a much larger word base that the widget dictionary I had been using. And it is a lot quicker and easier using a key combination than pointing the mouse, and it uses a lot less hand strain. While I was about it I also used the iKey editor to make a short cut to Calculator. I used Command+C, since option and control C were taken up with Camino apps. But I found out to my horror that using command+C prevented me from copying text, which also uses command+C. I ended up having to change canculator to a 3 key combination, option+shift+C to open the calculator. You have to be careful you don’t use a key combination the finder uses, or you’ll be in a heap of trouble.

The key to making these short-cuts easy to remember and useful is having the key combinations as consistent as possible. I do this by using control plus a letter to open applications, and option and a letter for two stage events (opening Camino and then going to a website) and where possible I use the first letter of the app or place I want to go to. This makes it easy to remember the proper combination, and because they have such an easy remembered consistency I find I use these key combinations all the time, in lieu of clicking on the icon in the dock. Clicking on the dock makes for nice, oversized dancing icons, but it takes way too much effort. When you use the iKey combination the icons still dance, but they stay small and unobtrusive. You have to look real good to even notice.
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Recently thanks to I acquired Monty Python’s irrepressible “The Meaning of Life.” I got it particularly for the elaborate song and dance number which is found in Birth – The Third World, where the incomparable Michael Palin, after explaining to the small army of his children that he had lost his job and could no longer afford to feed them and will have to sell them for medical experiments, says, “If only the Catholic church would have let me wear one of those little rubber things . . . ,” then cheerfully breaks into song, singing, “Every Sperm is Sacred.” I think this is easily my favorite musical number from any movie, it is stunningly choreographed and filmed. This film, unlike their other movies, really became the ultimate evolution of the Monty Python tv program, consisting of a series of unrelated episodes each of which illustrated the absurdity of life as we know it. I love every moment of the film, from the opening Birth scene of the terrified woman being wheeled crashingly through door after door on her way to the delivery room, to the scene near the end where Graham Chapman (who was the Monty Pythoner who was gay and subsequently died of AIDS) was being chased to his death by a bevy of bare breasted female beauties. Terry Gilliam, the American Pythoner who mostly did their very distinctive animations, remarked several times during the two Terry’s director’s commentary as to how much the cast had improved their acting since the tv series years. Legend has it that the spirit of the Beatles, who broke up in 1970, traveled to Monty Python, who began their BBC series in that year. That spirit certainly flourishes in their final collaboration, “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.” I got it for under $10, and it was the best $10 I ever spent.

The Real Little Eddy

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