Sunday, August 27, 2006

Spying on the net?

The Herald has an article on the Motion Picture Association's apparent deployment of a system which can "track internet searches".

There are a number of ways they could be doing this:

1. Tapping Internet traffic, either on peered networks or at an NZ ISP.

2. Placing spyware on individual computers,

3. Obtaining details of searches from Google and others.

4. Placing spoof sites and possibly paid advertising on search engines and then monitoring where the hits come from.

5. They're bluffing.

1 & 2 are plain illegal - section 216B of the Crimes Act prohibits the interception of private communications (which a search request clearly is).

3 would seem to run counter to Google's privacy policy (at least) and would also possibly contravene the Privacy Act.

4 wouldn't be illegal, but possibly also wouldn't be effective. They'd probably get a lot of hits on "lord of the rings torrent" - but that wouldn't be proof of anything. My guess is that this is the most likely methodology, apart from (5).

It will be interesting to see if any more emerges on this.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

NZ offered "scientific" reactor - yeah right!

According to this article, NZ was offered British aid to build a small nuclear reactor in the mid-1940s for "medical, industrial and scientific purposes".

The real purpose behind this is not hard to fathom. After having been a junior partner in the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bombs, Britain had been cut off from access to nuclear material and knowledge by the McMahon Act . As a result, an independent project was started to build a bomb, the first step in this being the construction of nuclear facilities at Windscale.

Canada was involved in this from an early stage, both in mining uranium and in building reactors, the plutonium from which was sold to both Britain and the US. The whole nuclear weapon program was very difficult for a small and relatively impoverished country like post-war Britain, and any assistance, especially in terms of space for facilities was obviously welcome.

Fortunately, as with later British requests for a test site, NZ declined this "opportunity".

Monday, August 07, 2006

bFM and Havoc - get over it?

Bit of a comment on Damian Christie's Public Address posts on bFM's upcoming replacement of Wallace with Mikey on the breakfast show.
By not totally agreeing with Damian, I think I'm in a minority of one, but here goes:

- bFM obviously have a business issue. More than 50% of Aucklanders prefer to listen to the kind of radio station that doesn't tax you with music that you might not have heard before. The rest mostly favour hip-hop, right-wing drivel, or something in their home language. That leaves maybe 5-10% of people who are open to listening to an "alternative" station, in which I'd include bFM, Kiwi, George and some of the low-power stations. With bFM at around 1.5%, it's hard to see how they can substantially boost those figures (assuming they don't fancy a total change of format / demographic). You can see how tweaking with "name" presenters might appeal.

- They could of course go back to their "student radio" roots, fire most of the paid staff and rely on the endless pool of keen volunteers. Trouble is, I've listened to RadioActive and it isn't pretty...

- Mikey's musical tastes aren't to everyone's liking. The USP of bFM is, however, *meant* to be, as far as I can tell, that they play a wide range of different music. Surely that includes "bangin house tracks"? After all, Havo also plays plenty of noisy rock music, hip-hop and wistful pop. There is a wonderful device on the market that allows you to restrict yourself to music that matches your own taste - it's called a CD player (or iPOD, even).

- Havo has a range of views on politics, some of which I find annoying and some I even agree with. But surely bFM viewers are intelligent enough to filter this? I think it's a sad day if we can't hear opinions beyond "sensible and realistic liberal opinion".

- There do seem to be rather a lot of callers to bFM whose mental functions are in some disrepair, either through natural causes or through overenthusiastic drug use. These people do seem to be attracted to calling Mikey.

- I think it must be a general problem for radio stations to find creative presenters that will reliably turn up at 7am. Look at Chris Evans.

Having said all that, I think Wallace does a good job on breakfast and is steadily getting better. I haven't switched to George for ages (unlike with the previous incumbent). But then, I'm not in the typical demographic - maybe 20 year olds want a bit more craziness at breakfast time?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Uncyclopedia thingy

Paula has discovered this Wikipedia game that involves finding interesting things that happened on your birthday.

Trouble is, nothing significant happened on my birthday. Some alleged muslims allegedly tried to blow up London, but failed, possibly because Play-Doh isn't an explosive. The first Indo-China war was resolved by the Geneva Conference - lasting peace, that one. And some English soccer player I've never heard of was born.

However in Uncyclopedia there are far more exciting happenings, only a few of which I just put there:

Three events
1944: End of the Great Toaster Rebellion

1968: Kitten Huffing banned in the state of North Dakota.

2002: The execution of the Spice Girls by the Vatican Boys Punishment Squad.

Two birthdays
1497: Mona Lisa - Author of the DaVinci code and inventor of the aeroplane

1921: Barney Hitler - Adolf's younger brother.

One holiday or observance
National Fight Day.