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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blogger beta ...

Curiosity finally got the better of me and being the moth-to-flame-beta-tester I am, decided to give Blogger beta a try. In case you don't know, Blogger beta is the new and improved Blogger ... apparently!

I was a bit worried because I'd made quite a few changes to the template and thought I may be forced into a new look and layout but no, all appears as it should. Which is just as well because I forgot to save the template ... oops!

Anyhoo, a few improvements and apparently we can now label our posts with various categories or something.

Ok, it has labels but I think I may have to do some tinkering. One thing that has really ticked me off is that the 'Blogamania' title used to be a hyperlink and doesn't appear to be one any longer. Grrr. More tinkering.

One thing that is really good is it takes a couple of seconds to publish instead of that endless circley thing and the 'Please wait. 0.3% published' nonsense whenever an attempt was made to share your thoughts or some news with the world.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Army skulls photos row

Germany has suspended two soldiers in connection with macabre photos showing German troops posing with human skulls in Afghanistan.

Four other soldiers - no longer in the army - are also being investigated over the images, which have shocked Germany.

The pictures were published on Wednesday in the popular daily Bild.

Since then photos of similar, separate incidents have emerged. RTL TV showed images of a soldier kissing a skull, and of skulls mounted in a pile.

The six soldiers identified are being investigated in connection with the Bild photos.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said on Friday the two soldiers still serving 'will no longer be a part of the German army'.

Prosecutors have said the six could face charges of disturbing the peace of the dead, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

WTF?! Some soldiers blowing off steam in the middle of a war zone and now they're going to be punished for it? Nuts, nuts, nuts ...


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

'DVD Jon' to sell FairPlay cracks to Apple rivals

The Tech Report

The Norwegian hacker who cracked DVD copy protection at the tender age of 15 has struck again, this time at Apple. Jon Lech Johansen, a.k.a. "DVD Jon," says he has cracked the FairPlay digital rights management system Apple uses to protect songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

Johansen claims he has written two pieces of software: one that allows non-iPod devices to play iTunes songs, and another that allows third parties to encrypt songs using FairPlay so they can be played on iPods without needing to be converted to MP3 and losing their copy protection.

Instead of releasing the software to the public like his DVD "DeCSS" crack, however, Johansen intends to license the two programs via his company, DoubleTwist Ventures. The software would allow other companies to sell DRM-protected music playable on iPods, breaking Apple's near-total stranglehold on legal music downloads that work on the devices. DoubleTwist already has one client, although Johansen has opted not to reveal its identity.

This endeavor seems likely to trigger intense legal action from Apple, but FairPlay isn't patented, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act's reverse engineering clause could protect Johansen. The clause states:

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure ... for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability.

If legal action ensues, Johansen says, "we will test these issues in court."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Internet user admits 'web-rage'

An internet user has been found guilty of what police said was Britain's first 'web-rage' attack.

Paul Gibbons, 47, tracked down John Jones using details obtained online after the pair exchanged insults in an internet chatroom, a court heard.

He travelled 70 miles to Mr Jones' home in Clacton, Essex, and beat him up with a pickaxe handle in December 2005.

Gibbons, of Southwark, south London, admitted unlawful wounding and will be sentenced on 7 November.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Muslim veil teacher 'should be sacked'

A Muslim teaching assistant suspended for refusing to remove her veil in class should be sacked, a local government minister has said.

Phil Woolas, whose brief includes race relations, told the Sunday Mirror that Aishah Azmi, 23, had 'put herself in a position where she can't do her job'.

Ms Azmi, who works at a junior school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said her pupils never complained about the veil.

She said she would remove the garment, but not in front of male colleagues.
Mr Woolas told the newspaper this amounted to sexual discrimination.

He added: 'She is denying the right of children to a full education by insisting that she wears the veil.'

Earlier, Kirklees Council said she was asked to take off her veil in class at Headfield Church of England Junior School because the children had difficulty understanding her in English lessons.

After she refused to remove the veil, it was decided to suspend her pending an employment tribunal.

The council said the school's action had "nothing to do with religion".

Maybe a balaclava would be a good compromise?!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Island life offer sparks interest - hopes to boost the population of 15

The owner of a tiny Scottish island which advertised for new residents has received interest from 150 people.

The National Trust for Scotland announced at the weekend that it was offering two homes for rent on the Hebridean island of Canna.

Currently, the farming and crofting community has just 15 inhabitants.

The trust is hoping that the new families, with the right kind of skills, will be able to secure the long-term survival of Canna.

Alex Lindsay, NTS Director for the Highland & Islands said: ‘We are very keen to hear from families who wish to take up the opportunity to live and work on Canna. Applicants should be keen to play an active role in the development of the island’s community. It is hoped that bringing in new residents will contribute to the safeguarding of the school, community and economy of the island, whilst increasing the skills base and making a valuable contribution to island life.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Kate Moss tells Pete Doherty 'me or the band'

Supermodel Kate Moss has thrown down the gauntlet and issued her junkie lover Pete Doherty a final ultimatum: Me or the band.

The 32-year-old cover girl has told friends she wants to have a baby with Doherty, but only if he gives up his crack head ways, reported the Sunday Mirror.

Doherty, former lead singer of the Libertines and current frontman of Baby-shambles, checked out of London rehab facility The Priory on September 25.

The singer reunited with bandmates and embarked on a UK-wide tour, before Moss issued her ultimatum.

A friend of Moss' told the Sunday Mirror: 'She wants Pete to be clean - she knows she can't have a baby while he's still into crack. That's why she is so determined he should ditch the tour.'

For now it seems Moss is getting her way. On Saturday, the band cancelled the final five concerts of their tour with record label EMI issuing the following statement.

'Babyshambles have made the decision to postpone the remaining five dates of their UK tour. It has become clear that Peter embarked on the arduous and high-profile tour too soon after his discharge and still needs time to recover from his extensive rehab treatment.'

Good idea, Kate; aim high and marry well.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Russia targets Georgian schoolchildren

Russian police have ordered Moscow schools to provide them with lists of pupils with Georgian surnames as a purge against the citizens of its southern neighbour gathers pace.

The demand comes as a Kremlin campaign to arrest and deport Georgian citizens gathered pace with the first plane-load flown to Tbilisi yesterday.

This campaign was triggered by the arrest last week of four Russian army officers by Tbilisi on spying charges.

Under pressure from Moscow, the four were released last Monday, but the Kremlin has since stepped up its campaign against Georgia, blockading road, rail, air and postal links and deploying navy ships off the Georgian coast.

Across Moscow, police have spent the week raiding Georgian restaurants, shops and businesses, including the city's two biggest casinos, both of which are now closed. The owners of many Georgian businesses have fled.

Russia's parliament heard calls for all one million Georgians working in Russia to be deported. The move would be a shattering blow to Georgia, whose fragile economy relies on their remittances to keep going.

Georgia is under siege.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Geekspeak still baffles web users

Britons are increasingly tech-savvy but are still bamboozled by tech jargon.

According to research from Nielsen/NetRatings, people are buying cutting-edge technology but often don't understand the terms that describe what their device actually does.

So while 40% of online Britons receive news feeds, 67% did not know that the official term for this service was Really Simple Syndication.

Terms such as podcasting and wikis are still meaningless to many.

'In the relentless quest for the next big thing when it comes to new forms of digital consumption, there is a significant tendency for the industry to over-estimate consumer's knowledge and understanding of the seemingly limitless new terms and products out there,' said Alex Burmaster, internet analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings.

Acronyms in particular foxed users. 75% of online Britons did not know that VOD stands for video-on-demand, while 68% were unaware that personal video recorders were more commonly referred to as PVRs.

Millions of people keep in touch via instant messaging but some 57% of online Brits said they did not know that the acronym for it was IM.

Common Geekspeek terms on the internet

VOD - video-on-demand
Wikis - Collaborative technology for editing websites
IPTV - internet protocol television
RSS - Really Simple Syndication alias automated news feeds
PVR - personal video recorder
Web 2.0 - user-generated content phase of internet
Triple-play - internet, TV and phone in one subscription
VoIP - voice over internet protocol
IM - instant messaging
Blogging - frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts on the web
Podcasting - internet broadcasting for playback on MP3 players

Now you know. :o)

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Drug caution for George Michael

Singer George Michael has been cautioned for possessing cannabis after being arrested in north London.

The 43-year-old star was arrested on Sunday after motorists called police to report a car causing an obstruction at traffic lights in Cricklewood, London.

Police confirmed the driver was arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive and also drug possession.

He was later cautioned and released on police bail pending further inquiries on his fitness to drive.

Police said an ambulance was called and Mr Michael was taken to a west London hospital as a 'precautionary measure' after he was arrested.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'At approximately 3.22am on Sunday morning officers were informed of a stationary vehicle with a driver inside causing an obstruction at traffic lights in Cricklewood Lane near its junction with Hendon Way.

'Officers arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of being unfit to drive and possession of a controlled substance believed to be cannabis.'

A spokesman for Mr Michael did not comment on the arrest or caution.

In February Mr Michael was cautioned by police for possessing cannabis after being found in his car at Hyde Park Corner, having smashed into three parked cars.

Why is this moron still allowed to continue to drive? Anyone else would have been hammered by the courts the first time around.