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Archive for February, 2008

Cellphones Harm Health, Says New Study

Antennas and satellite dishes

Some time ago I wrote about the health implications of cellphones, Wi-Fi and wine. There are the “only make believe” and wishful thinking studies, which much like in global warming can be funded by those with vested interest. And then there’s reality. After a study from Japan which suggests cellphones are no health hazard there’s this from the news:

Heavy mobile phone use may be linked to an increased risk of cancer of the salivary gland, a study suggests

A lot of people will be unhappy to read this. Personally, I’m glad I stopped carrying a cellphone back in 2003.

2006: The Year That Digg Was a Technology Site

Praising the past rather than criticizing the present

DIGG, at least as a technology site, seems to be dying. It’s ironic because it actually started as a technology site — the very same part which is being sidelined. Very few technology stories make the front page and those which do can sometimes be described as ‘fluff’, not news. This was pointed out by some other people before. The observation made the front page, too.

The days of my Digg raves remain far behind. Here is one such rave. These were the golden days, or “a honeymoon” as my online friend Derek once called it (he was the number 3 Digger at one stage, if I recall correctly). I seem to recall having 4 or 5 (!!) of my stories appearing in the front page of Digg at the very same time back in 2006. These were news items. They were about GNU/Linux mostly.

I have noticed a decline in Digg’s population, based on active participation. In fact, Alexa rank — as silly as it may be — has dropped for Digg. Jumping the shark? I don’t know. I carry on submitting to Digg, but for the first time in almost 2 years I no longer read Digg. Too much noise, too little signal. I have better feeds to read.

Unless Digg changes and stops being (already becoming?) a link farm to bloggers/submitters, then it’s “so long, Digg.” It was a nice ride though.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the stalkers/shills that drove me away. It’s Digg’s inherent problems. It becomes a dumpster of content. In a a way, I’m happy that Digg had itself ruined because it makes my departure Digg’s fault, so to speak.

At the moment, since Digg as a technology site is dying (and to me it’s a fact), I gradually leave it and I asked for advice on finding rare stories (i.e. those that LinuxToday, FSDaily and Lxer tend to miss). I used to be using search feeds, syndicating hundreds of blogs, and a combination thereof. I’m experimenting with new information pipes.

Speaking of Digg, take with a grain of salt whatever you see in Digg. 4+ people there mod down all my comments systematically and post slanderous remarks about me. They do the same thing in USENET and Slashdot where they exist as “anonymous coward”. It’s the same old tricks from OS/2 days and some of the very same people.

Will Digg ever take care of shills in their site? Will they? They never did. Not even a response from them on the particular subject. 4 people systematically mod down all my comment (example from arbitrary few hours alone). If people do this for months and within a few hours, it’s no hobby or obsession. It’s hard to believe these people aren’t paid to do this. Then it become easy to watch them attacking the messenger. Classic!

Digg has become a junkyard for corporations and users should be rightly concerned.

Digg contains and gives room to notorious characters like “flatfish” (a Microsoft shill better known as Gary Stewart). That’s the guy who is part of the group (in Digg and elsewhere) which spreads false rumours about me, including the lie that I’m transsexual, that I have a criminal record, that I molest children and whatever… you name it, they did it. It’s a smear campaign. One just needs to add these shills to the blocklist and tell the Microsoft buddies at Digg (they are business partners now, having signed an advertising deal) to address this problem which they continue to ignore.

Quickies: Miscellaneous Thoughts

NSA

The role of the NSA in computing cannot be denied. Homeland Security finds itself needing to adapt to an era of digitisation.

I once (or twice) read about the NSA putting its code in assembly form inside SELinux. Security gurus inform their readers about algorithms with back doors being deliberately inserted into Windows (and possibly OS X as well, for they too collaborate with the NSA, for ‘security’ reasons,). To some, there’s no doubt here but fact. But it’s a taboo. If you talk about it, they’ll call you a conspirator. Never mind all those reports in the press about Trojan horses being planted. They try to bury and make such stories vanish.

What’s to hide? Given their almost obvious work on back doors in Mac OS X and Windows (since older versions), I wouldn’t personally approach the NSALinux, aka SELinux aka National Security-enhanced Linux, where security means eavesdropping, not privacy. It’s security to the nation, not to the computer user.

Open Source Business

The value of open source companies has more to do with userbase (control) than revenue. The same goes for Web sites, including blogs. Take JBoss for example — a company whose revenue was only about $17 million per annum and yet it was sold for 20 times that amount.

The founder of JBoss claims to have undersold his company to Red Hat. He later left, but then again, he was never too happy at Red Hat for various reasons (other than lack of money/budget allocated to his division). The lesson to be learned here is that selling overpriced software is not necessarily the way to gain status in today’s industry.

Open Source is Not What It Used to Be

I wrote about this in this blog just over a month ago. “Open source” (as a term) died not just because of the OSI’s ‘openness’ (to CPAL, Microsoft, etc.), but also because abuse through jacking of terms. Examples include open source sex, wine and journalism. Where is the source code to these? Where is the code?

NVIDIA Going Open Source?

There appears to be some brilliant news (or unabated rumours) about NVIDIA planning an open source strategy. NVIDIA would have a lot to gain if it went open source. It would receive patches from the users, not to mention goodwill value.

I truly hope the rumours are true. Intel and AMD already do some open source in this one particular area (graphics card). NVIDIA remains the black sheep and the black box — for now. It should truly look for alternative routes at this stage.

KDE4

I wrote about this just before the release of 4.0.0. One should consider running the two versions — the stable and the unstable (3.5 and 4.0, respectively) — in tandem. One can get the best of both worlds. People can trivially install both 3.5.x and 4.0.0. This might prove handy in case of ‘emergencies’. That’s what I do at home and KDE 4 is a masterpiece (with a few tolerable quirks, no cracks).

KDE4 has bugs. It has many bugs. This is true and it’s pretty much the same with Leopard and (arguably) Vista. Fortunately, KDE 3.5 is already a fantastic desktop and it’s possible to run KDE 4.0.0 applications on it until 4.1 arrives later this year, based on at least one estimate.

“4.0.0″ indicates that it’s an early release, but it possibly would have been better had the KDE developers labeled it something like “KDE 4 Preview Release” or “KDE pre4″. That would affect perspective of reviewers. This is just my humble opinion though, not a complaint.

I’ve always found KDE quite elegant and it just worked. Sometimes, especially in the early days, the huge amount of functionality was daunting, but in a very good way which always leaves you curious and opens the door to increased productivity. To make good use of space, it’s worth using KasBar and putting favourite icons in a peripheral (external) panel to make a nifty ‘dock’ (Apple terminology).

Some say that KDE is complicated and heavy. Assuming that simplicity improves usability, this may be a barrier to adaption. But KDE adopts a different approach. That’s the importance of choice and KDE shouldn’t just be warped to be “more like X” (where X can be GNOME, Xfce, Mac OS X, etc.). KDE is possibly better than counterparts provided that the user drives to improve productivity over time, once new features are mastered.

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