Fluffy Links – January 9th 2007

Use your DS Lite like an iPod. Lovely touchscreen functionality.

Add more emoticons to GMail chat. Won’t work for me as my Firefox version is too old. I’m in fear of upgrading and having all my settings wiped. This version does me fine anyway.

Wouldn’t it be nice for SiliconValley to virtually extend itself to other places, such as Ireland. Shel Israel mentions that half of Silicon Valley startups were launched by immigrants but with connectivity getting better, do they need to move there now?

This issue is relevant to Global Neighborhoods because technology may make it less necessary for the world’s best and brightest visionary technologists to cluster here in Silicon Valley. In short, the flattening world may mean that the Andy Grove, Vinod Khosla and Sergey Brin, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Carnegie of the future may not have to come here, robbing America of its ability to attract so many of the world’s best and brightest.

As recommended by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman recommends some comic books to read. Great list.

Wow, now that’s an impressive attitude from a McDonald’s employee in Ireland.

Cringely’s latest column. This bit sticks out for me:

I would predict the fall of CEO Howard Stringer again if there were clearly somebody at Sony who wants his job. The business is in such difficulty that Microsoft is discussing internally how to help Sony from going under, since that would create a raft of antitrust problems for Redmond. I am not making this up.

This Irish Times story about Bebo suggesting giving all school kids email addresses for age verification is interesting for a few things. It is a good enough way of identifying ages and schoolkids and could easily be a way of blocking non-schoolkids from accessing profiles of kids. As it states:

Advocates of this system would hope that the special e-mail addresses would mean that older adults would be unable to misrepresent themselves as being of schoolgoing age.

This bit kind of annoys me:

A Department of Education and Science spokesman said access to social networking sites, such as Bebo, is blocked under content filtering services in place in schools.

Didn’t they have the same blinkered attitude to sex education years back? If you don’t talk about it, it might go away. Didn’t help with teenage pregnancies did it? Bebo is here and needs to be recognised as being here. A lot of the parents of kids might not know anything about the Internet or Bebo and wouldn’t have an iota about advising their kids about it. I think schools should have special classes on dealing with interacting with others online and how best to deal with unwanted solicitations. I don’t think denying these issues exist is a credible way of addressing them.

Actually Labour’s Kathleen O’Meara talks a little sense when she says parents should get training too but I would disagree with what she says about kids:

It seems to me that youngsters are themselves quite well clued in as to how to behave safely and responsibly when using services such as Bebo

And now here’s another interesting take about knowing some details for kids online.

Zadi wrote to her friends, begging for help. One of her friends found the boy’s school on his profile and contacted the principal who, in turn, contacted the family and got an ambulance to the boy in time.

The dance scene from Napoleon Dynamite. Reminds me of someone I see around college:

Keith Ellison makes a beeline for Virgil Goode. Goode is the congressman that caused a huge fuss that Ellison was a muslim and wrote unflattering remarks about stopping more muslims from getting into congress. Ellison seems to genuinely want to reach out to the Virginia representative.

7 Responses to “Fluffy Links – January 9th 2007”

  1. kav says:

    Damien, I upgraded to FF2.0 and it kept everything – all my settings, favourites, etc. Was a bit worried about it myself but took the plunge and all is well.

  2. Green Ink says:

    That official line on Bebo there is blood-boiling for a different reason as well. The problem is the ability of adults to access children’s profiles. The govt spokesperson, in response, points out that Bebo is blocked in schools. Which is totally irrelevant to the issue discussed.

    “Sharks eat fish. Fish need protecting from sharks. A Department of Education and Science spokesfish said access to fish networking sites, such as Bebo, is blocked under content filtering services in place in schools.” (Did you see what I did there?)

    This is series of tubes stuff.

  3. Green Ink says:

    BTW I moved to FF2.0 as well without losing anything (don’t like the new tabbing system though).

  4. Mark Dowling says:

    I really like FF2 because of the X on each tab, like Lotus Notes has. That said you should upgrade anyway for security reasons.

  5. tipster says:

    A Department of Education and Science spokesman said access to social networking sites, such as Bebo, is blocked under content filtering services in place in schools.

    What precisely does that mean? In other contexts, the Department is very clear that it is for schools to set and run (most) policies. As part of the WSE process, it does check that the child protection guidelines are reflected in school policies, but of the WSEs that I have read, I have seen no reference to social networking sites.

    There is a set of questions waiting to be asked by an intelligent TD who pursues precisely what the Dept means by this sentence — preferrably at a Committee meeting rather than by way of PQ (where (i) the official who spouted this obfuscation can be challenged rather than hide behind the Minister and (ii) space for probing follow-up questions is more flexible than under the rules giverning PQs).

    The phrase “[Bebo] is blocked under content filtering services in place in schools” is a legalistic ploy. [I leave aside here the question of what constitutes a genuine problem, and I leave aside Damien’s point as to whether blocking is an appropriate way of dealing with the problem.] It gives the impression that students in Irish schools cannot access these sites. That is not what it means, though. All it actually says is that the software, if used, will block access to Bebo. It does not say:
    – that the software is available to all schools,
    – that all schools know how to use the blocking software,
    – that all schools have chosen to use the blocking software, or
    – that all schools are using it correctly.
    (Nor does it consider whether “fixes” to get around blocking software can be used by knowledable studnts.)

    (I am reminded of a more serious case of a public official using words carefully to convey a particular meaning that scrutiny of the wording used shows is not present. From the New York Review of Books*:

    In her statement at Andrews Air Force Base before leaving on her European trip, Secretary Rice said, “The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances.” She added: “The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture.”
    This seemed no more that a legalistic evasion. Renidition is not “for the purpose of interrogation torture”; its purpose is to extract information. …
    Source: Rayond Bonner, ‘The CIA’s Secret Torture’, The New York Review of Books, Volume 54, Number 1; January 11, 2007; pp. 28-31 (at p. 30, column 2).)

    * The article is available online at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=19777, for US$3.00

  6. Green Ink says:

    Mark, I liked having one X at the side. Tipster, that’s exactly the point, it’s a statement that has the appearance of saying something but actually says nothing. The rest is the same:

    “The development of registration systems was a “matter for the service provider involved”.

    “The roll-out of broadband internet connectivity under the Schools Broadband Access Programme is nearing completion,” the spokesman said. “The provision of an e-mail service for schools is one of the services being developed for schools under this programme.”

    No shit. For schools for schools you say? This mode is being employed across ministries (Damien you made a similar point on telecom-related press releases somewhere)- a political leet-speak if you like. And it goes unchallenged and regurgitated in the mainstream press.

    Let’s just aggregate the press releases and everyone can access them in an RSS feed, thus saving on “news”paper.

  7. Conor says:

    I’m using and happy enough with it. Although its continued use to eat ram is quite annoying.

    And haven’t HEAnet been looking to provide email addresses to every school child for the last several years?