inside the man

Monday, August 29, 2005

The death of the bar code?

Slashdot decries the end of the bar code:

"The University of Wisconsin RFID Lab, principally funded by a dozen Wal-mart suppliers including 3M, Kraft Foods, and S.C. Johnson & Son, believes that RFID could spell the end of the ubiquitous bar code. The big draw? Speeding up supply-chain management. Wal-mart's warehouse conveyor belts presently move products at 600 feet per minute... but they want to be faster. And better informed."

I bet that libraries will see bar codes for a little longer than Wal-mart. RFID technology is certainly mature and available for library use, but the price point remains too high for these institutions who have less capital investment funding than Wal-mart. In fact, the last that I read, the RFID price point is still to high for WalMart but getting closer every day.
Once again, coffee is good

Slashdot bring to our attention a health column in the Independent describing a study funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute.

"A study has found that coffee contributes more antioxidants - which have been linked with fighting heart disease and cancer - to the diet than cranberries, apples or tomatoes."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

There has been a lot of discussion recently about defeating CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Appart). I won't reiterate all of the hacks and arguments here - for many links, see here. What I did want to bring attention to is a set of criteria for evaluating CAPTCHA systems posted yesterday to the web security list by Jeremiah Grossman (link to full message).

He calls it the CAPTCHA Effectiveness Test:

  1. The test must be able to be administered where the human and the server are remote to each other over the network.
  2. The test must be easy for humans to pass. Less than 0.01% of humans should fail the test on the first attempt.
  3. The test must be hard for computer to pass - Computers should have less than a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of guessing the correct answer. (Even after a pre-determined amount of analysis time)
  4. The test must be able to be completed by a human in less than a several seconds.
  5. Knowledge a test question, answer, or result (or combination thereof) must not impact the predictability of following tests.
  6. The test should not discriminate against the blind or the deaf. Or provide a solution to address the issue.
  7. The test should not possess a geographic, cultural, or language bias.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Swedish library loans humans to combat intolerance

"A Swedish library, realizing that books are not the only things being judged by their covers, will give visitors a different opportunity this weekend - to borrow a Muslim, a lesbian, or a Dane."

Scandinavian libraries have developed a creative program to combat prejudice. The latest incarnation lets patrons of the Malmo city library book a brief conversation with members of various religions, nationalities, professions, and even sexual orientations. Programs like this recognize that public libraries have a role to play in communities that goes beyond merely providing access to their internal and virtual collections. A natural extension of the public library ethos of intellectual freedom is the promotion of the realities of the new pluralism.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Are CBC's IT staff on strike?

CBC is in the midst of a crippling job action. The Globe and Mail reports today that CBC has had to throw advertisers a bone to make up for plummeting viewership in recent weeks. Under normal circumstances, I enjoy CBC radio and television programming, but who wants to watch their reruns? I notice now that at least the news section of the CBC web site is down. Are the CBC IT staff on strike as well, or are they just dealing with the impact of the Zotob worm like everyone else?

Update (a few minutes later): The CBC web site is working fine now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Jon Boley authored a thought provoking peace encompassing Hiroshima and go in the American Go Association's e-journal.

"REMEMBERING IWAMOTO AND HIROSHIMA: On August 6, 1945, Iwamoto Kaoru and Honinbo Hashimoto Utaro had just resumed their Honinbo championship game when they were interrupted by a blinding flash, a deafening explosion and a terrible wind that blew out the windows and knocked the stones off the board. The game was being played just outside Hiroshima; the police chief, fearing an American bombing raid, had moved the game out of the city. Later that day, survivors of the atomic bombing began to stream past the playing site, where play was continued and the game wa s completed: Iwamoto lost the game but won the match. Iwamoto's grandmother had said that a world full of go players would be a more peaceful place and in response to the events of that day 60 years ago, Iwamoto made a lifelong commitment to sharing his passion for go with the international community, a commitment that led to his founding of go centers around the world, including the Seattle Go Center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Telus, Telus, Telus, sigh...

Need I add any comment at all?

"On July 25, 2005, Canadian Internet Service Provider (ISP) Telus blocked subscribers' access to a Web site set up by an employee labor union intended to publicize the union's views about its dispute with Telus. In addition, the OpenNet Initiative's (ONI) research shows that Telus's decision to block traffic to the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the site caused collateral filtering of at least 766 additional, unrelated Web sites. Telus restored access to the IP address hosting the sites on July 28, 2005, while appearing to maintain an option to block any sites it chooses."

Monday, August 08, 2005

I want to copy my CDs!

One does not normally see Michael Geist advocating the adoption of US copyright policy in Canada, but here is one small case where I could not agree more emphatically that the Americans have it right:

"However, given the opposition to the levy system, the better alternative might be to simply drop it completely. In its place, Canada could adopt a 'fair use' provision that would allow consumers to copy their own CD collection onto another device along with the elimination of statutory damages provisions for such copying cases. The fair use approach would match the U.S. model, where the recording industry has acknowledged that consumers have the right to copy their own CDs without reference to a private copying levy (and which CRIA seemed to acknowledge in its pledge yesterday)."

About Me

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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