April 30, 2003

Virginia Makes Spamming a Felony

Although I have in the past advocated (and still do) using the legal system to make spamming unprofitable for spammers, I think that spam will ultimately be solved by new technologocial protecols, not legislative ones.

So, I have mixed emotions when I see that Virginia has passed a new law making spam a felony offense.

Virginia launched a crackdown on unsolicited bulk e-mail yesterday with a new anti-spam statute that enables prosecutors to seize the profits, computers and other assets of high-volume offenders.

While the law might deter some spammers, it won't stop the Russians, the Chinese, or the Nigerians. And I haven't yet seen the text of the new law to determine whether it might infringe on communications protected by the First Amendment. And those two things make me seriously question whether this new law is a good idea.

Posted by wasylik at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2003

Deep Throat Redux

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire reports that a four-year study at the University of Illinois has uncovered the identity of Deep Throat, Bob Woodward's informant during Watergate. Although previous indications pointed toward Patrick Buchanan, the current guess is someone else. Buchanan has already claimed the report is wrong.

In other, barely related news, I've just noticed that my wife's firm has hired former Congressman Steve Largent. Cool, maybe I can grab an authograph at the next Christmas party.

Posted by wasylik at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2003

Heaven... He's in Heaven...

Krempasky finds out for himself that Florida is paradise, at least the closest you can get to it without a ten-hour flight to Maui:

Just arrived in Orlando.
Rental car company - "Would you like a convertible Mustang for an extra $5?"
Me - "Hell yes!"
Hotel, "Sir, I had to upgrade you to a 3 bedroom villa. Same price."
Me - "Hell yes!"


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April 24, 2003

Not a Dollar Short Anymore

Ben and Mena are hitting the big time, getting VC funding, firing up a new hosting service, and best of all, hiring Anil as the new VP Business Development for SixApart.

That kicks SO much ass.

I predict they'll own Teoma within the next 18 months. You heard it here first.

Posted by wasylik at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Electronic Discovery Law

CoreFacts, a Northern Virginia firm specializing in computer forensics and elctronic discovery, has an excellent summary of case law relating to electronic discovery.

If you're in litigation with a tech firm on either side, or any company that uses e-mail, spreadsheets, databases, or documents in any way, get familiar with these cases. They may sink or save your case.

Posted by wasylik at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why Not Boxers, Your Honor?

1:49 a.m. Brief e-mailed to the printers. Mike dispatched to bed.

Posted by wasylik at 01:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2003

Why Do Lawyers Call a Thirty Page Document a "Brief"?

When I was in law school, I had to write a 25-page appellate brief on the issue of employment discrimination. At the time, I thought that was hard.

Fast forward several years. I've got an appellate brief due tomorrow in the Fourth Circuit and the damn thing just keeps on growing.

Now it's hard keeping under the thirty-page limit, and still say all that needs be said.

(Yes, I'm taking a five-minute sanity break. 8:47 p.m., brief due to the printers in thirteen hours. Will I see my bed tonight?)

Posted by wasylik at 08:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2003

A Sign of Progress in Iraq?

Dan Hartung speaks out in the comments section of Command Post: [scroll down]

Some day, the citizens of Baghdad will ride in taxis driven by New Yorkers.

More about globalism than the war, and worth a chuckle.

Posted by wasylik at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2003

FTC Sues to Stop Fraudulent Porn Spam

Press release: FTC Asks Court to Block Deceptive Spam Operation

The Federal Trade Commission has asked a U.S. District court judge to block an allegedly illegal spam operation that uses deceptively bland subject lines, false return addresses, and empty "reply-to" links to expose unsuspecting consumers, including children, to sexually explicit material. The agency alleges that Brian Westby used the spam in an attempt to drive business to an adult Web site, "Married But Lonely." The FTC has asked the court to order a halt to the deceptive spam, pending trial. It will seek a permanent injunction at trial.

Looks like another dirtbag will soon be off the virtual streets.

Posted by wasylik at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2003

Third Circuit: Must Protect Children from Making Choices

What the heck? Howard Bashman reports that the First Circuit has just decided that third graders do not have a First Amendment right to circulate petitions while at school. Howard cites a concurring opinion:

Moreover, an eight- or nine-year old child might not be able to resist the peer pressure to sign a petition and thus might do so even if the petition advocates a position with which he or she does not agree. In any event, a child of such age should not be confronted with having to make the choice to sign or not sign.

In other words, the role of a school is to protect children from having to make choices for themselves, and shelter them from the pernicious effect of petition-passer peer pressure. Because, after all, sheltering them from peer pressure in third grade over non-consequential items like animal-rights petitions will really equip them to deal with peer pressure over drinking, sex. and drugs when they get older.


I guess that's a judge who never had kids.

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April 14, 2003

Jish is Back

Jish is finally back.

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April 11, 2003

Apple to Buy Universal Music?

Rumors abound that Apple may purchase Universal Music from troubled Vivendi. If true, it could be great news for Apple aficionados everywhere.

Imagine iMovie with bundled music, licensed for use in your own videos. Imagine an Apple-run music service allowing users to download Apple-owned music at will - either for fee or not (or perhaps, fee included in the price of an iPod. Imagine rip, mix, burn taken to a whole new level.

Imagine a major player in the music industry that was remotely hip.


MacSlash has more.

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April 09, 2003

Mission Accomplished

Oh, and I just want to say how releived I am that our troops have achieved the critical strategic objective of demolishing a statue of Saddm Hussein. To hear the media spin on it today, you'd think the statue itself was a magical talisman of evil and that its destruction would immediately bring about world peace.

I think we have a few more steps between here and there.

Oh, yes, one more thing: the family that loots together, stays together.

Posted by wasylik at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Blood Gulch Chronicles

In a time of war, we all need to understand exactly what it is we're fighting for. Of course, I'm talking about Halo:

In the time between the Covenant invasion of the outer planets (Halo) and the subsequent alien invasion of Earth (Halo 2), there was a brief period of civil war among the human marines. Places like Sidewinder, Derelict and Chiron TL34 were the sites of fierce battles where red and blue warriors fought for control of mankind's future. The Blood Gulch Chronicles tell the story of the men stationed in a desolate outpost as they fight for control of the universe's most strategic dry creek bed in the middle of a box canyon.

The Blood Gulch Chronicles from Red vs. Blue [mirror sites available]

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Iraqi's Minister of Information today announced that Americans troops in Baghdad had fallen right into the trap Iraqi defense forces had laid for them, that the Amercians were "right where we wanted them," and would soon be slaughtered by the long-threatened "unconventional" tactics of the Ba'athist regime.

The Minister gave his statement outside the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, while U.S. Marines carted him and his podium out of the hotel lobby to a waiting transport.

Meanwhile, American military commanders at this morning's briefing expressed concern that the seige of Baghdad was not going as smoothly as planned.

A spokesman said, "Our first plan was to isolate the city from the surrounding countryside, but the mass exodous of refugees from the city made it impossible for us to compete our ring around the city. Our plan was flexible enough to accommodate that development, however, and we tried our new tactic of sending probing forces into the city to determine the location and strength of enemy troops."

That tactic also met with failure, said the spokesman, beccause enemy troops were so few and far between that the probing forces couldn't find them. Finally, military commandes launched a last-ditch desperation tactic - roll masses of grounds troops, backed up by armored vehicles, into the city in a display of strength. That final backup plan, according to troops on the front, also met with failure.

"We couldn't even get though with tanks," said one Marine. "Iraqis kept trying to come up and kiss us. One corner was full of dancing, cheering people. Thanking President Bush. By name. In English! Another square was blocked by a mob tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein. How are we supposed to fight a war when these people think there's a party going on? It's our worst nightmare."

Posted by wasylik at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2003

Putting A License Header on Your RSS Feed

A few days ago, I got a phone call from a friend who thought someone was including his RSS feed in a premium feed service, even thought the copyright and license information on the site itself clearly indicates that the work is licensed only for non-commercial use, including, of course, the RSS feed.

But if someone never visits your site, only reading the RSS feed, how can you alter them to the terms of the license (and hopefully deter possible non-permitted uses of your feed)? It's easy - simply include an item containing information about the feed, including desired copyright and license info.

I have done something similar for a while now, using Movable Type's automated templates for RSS feeds. The first item in my thread is always the item entitled "About this Weblog" containing a brief description of the weblog. It always appears as the first item in NetNewsWire when I read my own feed, and certainly it would be the first thing a new reader sees the first time reading the feed.

Here's how to do it in Movable Type, and you can pretty much use the same basic idea no matter how you generate your feed.

First, take a look at your feed in raw text form. You'll see that, after the initial headers, each news item is marked by <ITEM> tags. Inside that, you'll see the components: TITLE, LINK, DESCRIPTION, CONTENT, and maybe a couple of other components. You'll want to open up a text editor and create a new "item" based on what you see in your feed. You can see, in the extended entry, what mine look like for both the RSS 1.0 and 2.0 templates.

Next, you'll want to go to you Movable Type setup page, under "Templates." Depending on your setup, you may be generating a feed for RSS 1.0, 2.0, or both. (Check and see whether your front page has a link to the index.xml or the index.rdf file - that will tell you which you need to edit). Select the appropriate template, and find the MTEntries tag. You'll want to take the item you prepared above (again, depending on which spec you use) and paste it into the template BEFORE the MTEntries tag. Save it, rebuild the site (just the index files should do it), and that should be it. Any reader of your RSS feed will now see your license information as that first item.

My item entries look like this:

RSS 2.0

<title>About This Weblog</title>
<description>What's On It For Me? is a Perpetual Beta
<![CDATA[<p>What's On It For Me? is a <a
href="http://perpetualbeta.com/">Perpetual Beta</a>
Production <img src="http://perpetualbeta.com/beta-dot.gif">
</p><p>The site and this RSS feed are Copyright 1999 -
2003 by Michael Alex Wasylik. All Rights are reserved. Please <a
href="http://perpetualbeta.com/contact/">contact the author
</a> for reprint or duplication permission. </p>]]>

RSS 1.0

<item rdf:about="http://perpetualbeta.com/woifm/">
    <title>About This Weblog</title>
    <description>What's On It For Me? is a Perpetual Beta Production.
    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>What's On It For Me? is a 
    <a href="http://perpetualbeta.com/">Perpetual Beta</a>
    Production <img src="http://perpetualbeta.com/beta-dot.gif">
    </p><p>The site and this RSS feed are Copyright 1999-2003 
    by Michael Alex Wasylik.   All Rights are reserved.  Please <a 
    href="http://perpetualbeta.com/contact/">contact the author</a> 
    for reprint or duplication permission. </p>]]>
Posted by wasylik at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack