Ever think the last mile could end in your bathroom?

A small but determined group of companies say that stringing fiber through city sewers is the answer to high-speed access. [...]

For its part, CityNet claims to use a variety of approaches to getting the cable installed, although it relies mainly on a specialized robot called SAM (short for Sewer Access Module) that's made by Ka-Te System AG, a Zurich-based vendor. SAM puts rings into pipes, then runs conduit and cable via those rings. The advantage of SAM, CityNet says, is that SAM can enter sewers that can't be accessed by humans. Once it's installed the fiber, it can be used to maintain and troubleshoot the cable as well. SAM can be used in a range of irregularly shaped pipes measuring as small as eight inches.

Ca-botics contends its technique, called STAR (Sewer Telecommunication Access by Robot), is faster than ring-based approaches like CityNet's and can work in smaller pipes. STAR works by embedding small hooks or anchors into the pipe, then threading specially designed cable through the pipeline. [...]

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Gulf Wars: Episode II: Clone of the Attack

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more syndication nonsense

A followup to my previous post, since you're all probably like me and don't click on "previous twenty links" very often. (Yo brad, when's that notification system going to actually exist?)
  • URLwatcher: pretty straightforward, but it just emails you a list of changed URLs; I want the new content to show up on my friends list, or perhaps in my inbox.
  • I can't even figure out how to make it do anything useful.
  • I think I figured out how it works, and it's just abyssmally bad.
  • newsmonster: apparently a Mozilla plugin of some sort. *plonk*
  • stapler: this looked promising at first, but apparently it's a plugin to some standalone commerical program called Radio UserLand (which is, incidentally, one of the stupidest names I've ever heard ever.)

So syn_promo is the community that exists because Brad still, for some inexplicable reason, won't add the ability to get a list of all the syndicated feeds? Nice.

I've started writing a scraper, and it's actually going fairly well, since nobody but me actually writes HTML by hand any more, so the sites I want to scrape are pretty easily parsable. It's not done yet, but if you want to play with it, it's here: cheesegrater. This thing will generate .rss files from a list of web sites, and then I suppose I could periodically push them out to and lj-befriend them from there. But, I only have like 1.8 syndication points left, so that leaves me with the options of:

  • Talk Brad into giving me like 30 more points; or
  • Hack up a way to merge all the sites I want to watch into a single RSS feed (which will be tricky, because they don't have, like, timestamps or anything to sort by. Maybe there's a tool that does this already?); or
  • Give up on the idea of using my friends list for this, and use some standalone program or something instead. That would suck. Though I guess I could then scrape my lj friends list into whatever other thing I end up using instead. Hmmmm...
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crazy bathroom products

Rocking Horse Toilet:
"This concept challenges the traditional form of the toilet or "throne" by toying with the nostalgic familiarity of the rocking horse. However, the inclusion of foot pegs provides real health benefits by raising the knees above the waist, which facilitates a thorough expulsion of waste."

Squish Rubber Sink:

"made from a silicone rubber allowing the sides to be flexible. They can be 'rolled' up or down to change the depth of the basin. This sink brings more fun and interactivity into the bathroom. Cleaning is easy as very little sticks to silicone."

(More here, but those are the good ones.)

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Everything You Buy: Tracked

Pentagon to Track American Consumer Purchases

Thursday, November 21, 2002 By Major Garrett

WASHINGTON -- A massive database that the government will use to monitor every purchase made by every American citizen is a necessary tool in the war on terror, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--( 5%) ">

Edward Aldridge, undersecretary of Acquisitions and Technology, told reporters that the Pentagon is developing a prototype database to seek "patterns indicative of terrorist activity." Aldridge said the database would collect and use software to analyze consumer purchases in hopes of catching terrorists before it's too late.

"The bottom line is this is an important research project to determine the feasibility of using certain transactions and events to discover and respond to terrorists before they act," he said.

Aldridge said the database, which he called another "tool" in the war on terror, would look for telltale signs of suspicious consumer behavior.

Examples he cited were: sudden and large cash withdrawals, one-way air or rail travel, rental car transactions and purchases of firearms, chemicals or agents that could be used to produce biological or chemical weapons.

It would also combine consumer information with visa records, passports, arrest records or reports of suspicious activity given to law enforcement or intelligence services.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is home to the Pentagon's brightest thinkers -- the ones who built the Internet. DARPA will be in charge of trying to make the system work technically.

Rear Adm. John Poindexter, former national security adviser to President Reagan, is developing the database under the Total Information Awareness Program. Poindexter was convicted on five counts of misleading Congress and making false statements during the Iran-Contra investigation. Those convictions were later overturned, but critics note that his is a dubious resume for someone entrusted with so sensitive a task.

Aldridge said Poindexter will only "develop the tool, he will not be exercising the tool." He said Poindexter brought the database idea to the Pentagon and persuaded Aldridge and others to pursue it.

"John has a real passion for this project," Aldridge said.

TIAF's office logo is now one eye scanning the globe. The translation of the Latin motto: knowledge is power. Some say, possibly too much power. "What this is talking about is making us a nation of suspects and I am sorry, the United States citizens should not have to live in fear of their own government and that is exactly what this is going to turn out to be," said Chuck Pena, senior defense policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Pena and others say the database is an even greater violation of privacy rights than Attorney General John Ashcroft's nixed proposal to turn postal workers and delivery men into government tipsters. No matter what protections Congress requires, Pena fears a database big enough and nimble enough to track the entire nation's spending habits is ripe for abuse.

"I don't think once you put something like this in place, you can ever create enough checks and balances and oversight," Pena said.

But proponents say big business already has access to most of this data, but don't do anything with it to fight terrorism.

"I find it somewhat counter intuitive that people are not concerned that telemarketers and insurance companies can acquire this data but feel tremendous trepidation if a government ventures into this arena. To me it just smacks of paranoia," said David Rivkin, an attorney for Baker & Hostetler LLP.

The database is not yet ready and Aldridge said it will not be available for several years. Fake consumer data will be used in development of the database, he said.

When it's ready, Aldridge said individual privacy rights will be protected. But he could not explain how the data would be accessed. In some cases, specific warrants would give law enforcement agencies access, he said. But in other cases the database might flag suspicious activity absent a specific request or warrant, and that suspicious activity could well be relayed to law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

"I don't know what the scope of this is going to be," Aldridge said. "We are in a war on terrorism. We are trying to find out if this technology can work."

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DNA Lounge: Wherein a tagger is made to be our bitch.

The Beyond the Pale shows were really great. Pictures will be up eventually, once Angela gets around to scanning the 16 rolls of film she shot. If you were at the show, you may have noticed that the stage was bigger: last week, David built some removable side extensions, so that we can make the stage be about 8' wider overall. Since we had four bands' worth of gear on stage each night, this helped a lot...

Tonight we had a different kind of event: it was sort of a vocal recital for a music school; the graduates each did a short performance. I missed most of it, but one of the bits was a girl doing the Josephine Baker thing, wearing a skirt made of bananas, with accompaniment from a fellow dancing in a gorilla costume. That was great.

Later this evening we were sitting around watching a movie, when Ron spotted someone tagging our door. So Barry and Big Dave followed them down the street and caught up to them before they got in their car, and convinced them that it would be a good idea for them to come back and clean up their mess. "Yo, it's not like it's yo house or sumpin', yo," said the scrawny suburban white boy.

Here are some pictures of the little shit-worm vandal scrubbing his handiwork off our door.

Personally, I was in favor of having his legs broken instead, but that's why I let other people make those decisions.

Barry thinks that the fact that we didn't have them arrested means that they'll be less likely to tag us in the future. I think he's delusional. These little Beavises are all mentally ten years old: instead of carving "fuck" in their school desk, or pulling the legs off spiders, now they're spraypainting their name on other peoples' property. Same shit, different day. I don't think you can reason with someone so developmentally stunted.

Speaking of Big Dave, you should all watch Full Metal Challenge on The Learning Channel on December 1st (10pm and 1am ET/PT). He and the Death Guild crew went to England and built a "Mad Monkey." There are pages for the Death Guild team on the FMC site and the the TLC site.