brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


Minnesota court takes dim view of encryption

Sigh. Things like this really depress me. Minnesota court takes dim view of encryption | CNET

A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

From the PGP FAQ:

Who uses PGP?
People who value privacy use PGP. Politicians running election campaigns, taxpayers storing IRS records, therapists protecting clients' files, entrepreneurs guarding trade secrets, journalists protecting their sources, and people seeking romance are a few of the law abiding citizens who use PGP to keep their computer files and their e-mail confidential.

Businesses also use PGP. Suppose you're a corporate manager and you need to e-mail an employee about his job performance. You may be required by law to keep this e-mail confidential. Suppose you're a saleswoman, and you must communicate over public computer networks with a branch office about your customer list. You may be compelled by your company and the law to keep this list confidential. These are a few reasons why businesses use encryption to protect their customers, their employees, and themselves.

PGP also helps secure financial transactions. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation uses PGP to encrypt members' charge account numbers, so that members can pay dues via e-mail.

Whether this individual is guilty or not, this seems incredibly ill-conceived.



Another fun link from the make blog: Systm, a video show produced by a couple of young geeks. In their first episode, they build a warspying setup into a modified cashbox and go in search of wireless video cameras. Despite the socially marginal justification, it's pretty well done and worth a few minutes of bittorrent downloading.


Remote Control of the Nikon 4500?

Hey folks, I've passed some of my helpful technical tidbits on to you, it is time that some of you work for me. 🙂

I have a Nikon Coolpix 4500 that I want to control from, well, some bit of hardware that I have lying around. Ideally that would be Linux/FreeBSD/some Unix, but Windows would be okay too. I've tried using cPix, but while I have got it to connect via the serial cable, it seems very slow to initialize, and the instant I do anything meaningful, it seems to hang the camera badly enough to require pulling the battery to reset it.

I basically want to be able to control all the common controls on the camera to do some time lapse and automated capture. Source code and/or scripting would be a big plus.


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Game Review: Katamari Damacy

I was in Fry's last weekend, and was just browsing the cheap video game aisle's with my wife, when I noticed that the quirky Japanese title Katamari Damacy was only $19.99. I think it was Tom who first told me about this rather odd little game, and when I explained what it was to my wife, she shocked me by tossing it into the basket along with all the other crap we were buying.

There is no mistaking this game is a Japanese import. It has a very quirky style, with very odd English titles which undoubtably are a bad translation from some equally quirky Japanese. The backdrop: the King of the Cosmos has destroyed all the stars, and they need replacing. You are the Prince, a strange little green guy who gets to push around a magnetic ball called the Katamari. When the Katamari rolls up against a small object, it will stick to it, and the ball gets bigger. The bigger the ball gets, the more stuff will stick to it. At first, you can only pick up tacks and dice. As the game progresses you can pick up dogs, humans, boulders, giant octopuses and supertankers. Upon completing each level, the Katamari is converted into stars.

It is very quirky.

And fun. The graphics are fairly simple, but incredibly varied. There are all sorts of things going on in the house, town and city in which you work. The sheer variety is very compelling. It reminds me vaguely of the experience I had when I played Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the first time: the town was the first town in a game that felt like people lived there. Similarly, there are all sorts of things going on in this town: dogs barking, elephants, schools, bears, sumo wrestlers, cranes, and a billion other objects. It's really pretty staggering. And fun.

Did I mention it was fun?

If you are looking for a cute game, with unusually innovative game play, simple, non-violent, try checking out Katamari Damacy.